They only brought more danger for her and her three-year-old daughter.
As she took shelter there “the wind sounded absolutely terrible, like the kind of monster’s roar you hear in a horror movie,” said Beltran, 38.
Then came the wait in the brief still of the storm’s eye, as it passed over Florida’s northern Panhandle region Wednesday.
“Here comes the second part,” she thought.
“First a tree fell, and then almost an hour went by. We heard another huge noise, and the wind sent the tree crashing through the window into a bedroom.”
Thankfully she and her family were in another room.
“I had just come running out of that room about five minutes before,” she said.
Beltran and her boyfriend tried to place towels and other objects to block the incoming rain, but it was futile.
When the eye of the storm reached Mexico Beach, 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of the larger Panama City, it poured so hard that at some points rain was moving horizontally, Beltran recalled.
Many brick buildings were partly collapsed.
More trees were toppled than standing.
Metal containers, pieces of roofing, satellite antennas and stoplights all were strewn on the ground.
As Beltran and her boyfriend tried to stop the deluge, there was a new worry: Whether the storm surge of rising waters would be as bad as forecasters feared.