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Hurricane Irma's Wrath

We had been through so many hurricanes before - we didn’t think it was a big deal. In our circle of family and friends, a hurricane was just a reason to have a “hurricane party”. Stock up on beer and snacks and set up on the lanai to watch nature take control. Once it’s done, do a little clean up and get on with our lives.

By the time we realized this one was VERY different, it was too late. Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel came to our county in Florida. This was a BIG RED FLAG…. You know when Jim Cantore comes for a visit, it is going to be BAD. 

There was no gas to be found within 200 miles, the water was sold out in every grocery store and the evacuation orders came in and then... stopped. It was too late to leave, so if we hadn’t gone yet, we were told to “Hunker Down”.  That phrase - to this day - gives me chills. Hunker Down. Think *Dorothy* in the Wizard of Oz. That’s what I think of when I hear “Hunker Down” now. So, Hunker Down is exactly what we did. Irma covered the entire state of Florida and came in hot at a Cat 4. The biggest worry for me was the storm surge. Even if you survive the Cat 4 winds, the storm surge can be deadly - it will sweep up anything in its way. That is where the real damage lies.

The howling winds began around 8am that day. At first, just a normal hurricane (if such a thing exists). Windy, rainy, noisy. “Normal” hurricanes last a surprisingly short time - 30 minutes, maybe an hour or two at the most. They fly by, wreaking whatever havoc they can in that short period of time. Irma was a gigantic, slow moving hurricane. A huge beast of a hurricane. A super scary hurricane. 

The eye of the hurricane went over our house that night - and it was so eerie to be ‘in the eye’. The winds forced the palm trees almost completely horizontal. In the ‘eye’, they stood up straight like there was nothing abnormal about the day - and then in a flash, they went horizontal in the exact opposite direction. It was really incredibly amazing and incredibly terrifying at the same time. 

Once the nightmare was over, more than 12 hours later, we took stock of the house and our neighbors to see if everyone was ok - which they were, thank goodness. We lost a huge, old tree in our front yard, lost some of our fence and had a very big mess to clean up, but thankfully we didn’t have any storm surge or major damage. After cleaning up our area, we took a drive around the neighborhood to help clear out the roads to allow emergency vehicles to pass. Chainsaw in hand, we cut up huge trees, limbs and even in one case an entire tree that was blocking a main road. 

The next almost two weeks were spent living ‘off the grid’ with no internet and power only when we absolutely needed it, to conserve gas for our generator. We worked tirelessly to finish the clean up in our yard and those of our neighbors and friends, we spent more time together as a family and we learned a lot about the real power of Mother Nature. 

Irma changed me. It made me realize what is REALLY important in life. People, not things. Taking care of those around us - people we know and those we’ve never met - has become so much more important to me. Making sure everyone is educated and understands what it takes to be prepared for an event like Irma is now a passion of mine. 

Here’s a link to the Hurricane Preparedness Page. https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness

Take a look, and get yourself ready. It’s critical, even if you don’t live in a hurricane zone. Texas learned this the hard way when their power grid went down earlier this year. It takes a small amount of time to prepare for what can inevitably be a very difficult time for you and your family. And if you see Jim Cantore - HUNKER DOWN.