hurricane irma alligator melbourne florida
Gator looking for cover (image via Melbourne Fire Dept.)


With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, it wasn’t just humans in search of higher ground. Local wildlife had the same idea. And, regardless of who or what you are, sometimes those spots don’t work out and relocating becomes necessary. That was possibly the case yesterday, September 10, 2017, when a large alligator was spotted scurrying into the historic district of downtown Melbourne, Florida, as Irma was beginning to ramp it up. 

Melbourne Historic District

The laid-back town that still offers a relatively small-town feel is located on the Atlantic side of the state along Florida’s Space Coast, known chiefly for Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center. The downtown historic district has undergone a transformation of sorts over the last 20 years. The houses, predominantly ranging from Victorian era and Cracker-style wood-frame homes to the sturdy little concrete and stucco bungalows of the ‘30s and ‘40s, are cute as can be. The main street(s) that run between those homes is now a vibrant thoroughfare of shops, restaurants and services.

Melbourne Fire Dept. Sta. 74

Sunday night there were few about, except the local fire department and a wayward alligator apparently looking to change cover. Cutting down the deserted streets, one of the MFD's own saw the huge creature and managed to capture video footage of its passage as it scurried up over a curb and made a hasty retreat into an open retention pond at the mouth of the district’s arched entrance. The street it had to cross to get there is called Strawbridge along that stretch, but in reality it is US-192, a major artery running east and west through central Florida.


hurricane irma melbourne historic district florida alligator
Gator crossing the rain swept streets in Melbourne during Irma (image via G. Costello)

Tropical Hurricanes

In all likelihood, the alligator is the same reptile that can be seen sunning itself from time to time within the confines of a large fenced in retention pond across five lanes of traffic. Around 7 p.m. ET Sunday the weather conditions from Irma started to accelerate. By 7:30, quarter to 8:00, the wind had really kicked up. That’s about the time this displaced gator made its appearance. Fortunately, there were at least a handful of people to witness it. At this stage in the recovery process it’s far too early to say whether there will be an active search for the animal. It may even have gone home by now.

Florida Wildlife & Natural Disasters

When it comes to wildlife, within 48 hours of a hurricane you’ll begin to notice a difference. You’ll get up in the morning and sense something is off and you can’t quite put your finger on it until it hits you: why is it so quiet? The birds! Where are they? They’re not all gone, of course, but most seem to have taken a hidden cue that they and other critters can sense far in advance. Whether it’s the barometric pressure dropping or what, they know and hightail it out of there. If you live in an area prone to these storms for any time at all, you’ll eventually observe it for yourself.

Hurricanes Irma & Harvey

Hundreds of pets, possibly thousands, have been lost, abandoned or displaced by both Harvey and Irma. If you’re in a position to, animal shelters and rescues desperately need volunteers to help out right now while we face the devastating after effects of two colossal storms. You can contact the Humane Society or groups like for more information.