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Historic and harrowing: Chronicling Hurricane Irma's destructive path

By Lisa Gartner
This photo provided by Caribbean Buzz shows boats clustered together after Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean. The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas. [Caribbean Buzz via AP]

We sawed through plywood and boarded up windows, hoarded water and bought stores out of batteries. We took down flags and porch swings and filled up with gas, hit the road or hunkered down.

In short, we all made plans.

But the impossibly large Irma, like every hurricane before and all that will come after, did not care about how well-prepared we were. The storm left us powerless before moving on to devastate areas outside its path, that didn't see what was coming.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Read more about Hurricane Irma

It first found the Caribbean islands, some losing 90 percent of their buildings, the wind ripping a 2-year-old child from a relative's arms. He was found dead the next morning. In Jacksonville, the river rushed over the sea wall, the flooding so bad, a cafe owner said, that it looked like the beach had been dumped on the floor. Streets in Charleston, S.C., were underwater, fire hydrants drowned, dumpsters drifting in waves.

Technology tells us a hurricane is on its way. But no matter how many times we check the track on our screens, anything can happen.

READ MORE: Special report: Historic and harrowing