DOG ISLAND, Florida — Bradlee Shanks sat on the porch of his Dog Island home Wednesday morning reading “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving while the winds from Hurricane Michael knocked at his doorstep.
Shanks, who boasted about designing his home to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, said he decided to ignore the county’s mandatory evacuation orders to witness the strength of his house firsthand.
“I built everything myself,” Shanks said. “I’ve always wanted to come out here and see what it’s like to go through a storm. I wasn’t thinking it was going to be such a strong storm, though. If I knew it was going to be a Cat 4 I probably wouldn’t have stayed.”
A barrier island located 3 miles off the Carrabelle coast, Dog Island is accessible only by boat. Shanks, one of two individuals who stayed behind on Dog Island Wednesday, have no escape route if conditions become severe.
Terri Cannon, another longtime resident of Dog Island, left with her husband Randy for Tallahassee Tuesday.
Cannon said before evacuating by boat, Dog Island residents spent Monday and Tuesday moving vehicles and equipment to the higher ground areas of the island. The Cannons also made sure their boats were secure.
Hurricane Dennis, according to Cannon, dumped a lot of water on the island in 2005. Some portions of the island, an unincorporated part of Franklin County that lacks emergency services, were spared.
“The storm surge was pretty big in Dennis, but it was not the whole island,” Cannon said.
Shanks said although he was he was a bit nervous alone on the island, he was choosing to remain calm despite Hurricane Michael’s imminent arrival.
“I’m not worried about my safety,” Shanks said. “The house is vibrating a bit, but not like other houses here. My house is already proving to be pretty strong.”
Shanks said as far as passing time as the storm passes Wednesday, he has a few ideas in mind.
“If you want to know the truth, I made a big batch of spaghetti,” Shanks said laughing. “I still have power and I have a generator. I’m just going to read and watch the news.”
“I’m kind of an adventurer and, what would you call me, a bit of a thrill seeker,” he continued. “I’m also very cautious and know what I’m dealing with, having built the house myself. I wouldn’t recommend it for those who don’t know anything about their homes.”