Hurricane Irma departed, thankfully weakening significantly and shifting so we weren’t dead center in what remained of her eye by the time she moved northward through Central Florida. Since this was my first direct experience with a hurricane, (and as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I process emotions through writing), I’ve made a list of a few takeaways from this experience. For me and mine, at least.
First the lessons learned:
- Prepare early. My husband and I stocked up on a couple of cases of bottled water and a few other essentials a full week before she hit, before the shelves became barren.
- Save containers to create block ice. It worked in the old days, before refrigerators, and in large blocks would take longer to thaw than cubes. But if you have an ice maker, make bags of ice ahead too.
- Turn off the news. Not all the time, get a periodic update to stay aware of what’s going on, but don’t overdose on this tension-filled mix of drama and supposition. I learned that as a blue star mom.
- Find a reliable source for weather information or three. In the Tampa Bay market, we found Denis Phillips of WFTS, the Tampa Bay affiliate of ABC News superb at delivering the updates in a reasoned, calm manner with explanations we could wrap our brains around. I also heard great things about Paul Dellegatto of Fox News 13 in Tampa too.
- Be neighborly. There is nothing more reassuring when you are hunkering down in a 6 x 6 closet than to know your next-door neighbors know you are there in case the unimaginable happens. And to know your neighbor’s safe place in case they need you too!
- Be sensitive about what you post on social media. This one I’m not proud of, but I’ll explain. I have family that live far away who heard Tampa Bay was going to be devastated. Naturally, when Irma was dissipating, I felt it important to let them all know we made it through unscathed and posted a status update about Irma being no match for our great area. Little did I realize my friends and co-workers in the neighboring county were getting hammered as the eye traveled right through that area. It made me feel like shit this morning to read how horrifying it was for them.
Now for the gratitude:
I’m grateful for everything! Especially that none of us were injured, none of my friends, co-workers, neighbors either.
I’m so very grateful for Publix. As in my last post, again this disclaimer. I work for the company, Florida’s largest private employer, and am not only grateful but incredibly proud of my co-workers. Before the storm, they were out there busting their butts to ensure those who needed it were able to buy ice, water, canned goods, deli sandwiches for the whole firehouse, etc. etc. And I see several stores in south Florida were able to get back up and running today. And I have no doubt most of the others will tomorrow too. It makes me so very proud to work for a company that plays such an important role in its communities. I’m willing to bet that in the coming days, there will be a myriad of stories about selfless acts by Publix associates and generous acts by the company as a whole. It’s just in our DNA, and we have founder George Jenkins (AKA Mr. George) to thank for that.
I’m also grateful for the strong leadership of Gov. Rick Scott who performed admirably. Believe me, there is plenty of daylight between his stances on a lot of issues and mine, but I appreciated his behavior during this episode in Florida history and the fact that there was no politicizing anything. It reinforces something I’ve said for a long time: Our country behaves at its best sadly, when there is an existential threat. One could argue Irma looked to be that kind of threat. At least to the state of Florida, its population and infrastructure. No doubt the bickering and politicizing will ramp up again soon enough, but it was nice to see sincere leadership without any power angling going on for a little while.
One final request:
Before Irma made landfall, my Iraq vet son headed down to Key West to help with the preparations and subsequent rebuilding. He had lived there for a year before being lured away last fall and without substantial commitments, felt compelled to help out. I last heard from him Saturday morning at 7:30 before Irma made landfall. I am sure he’s fine — there’s no cell service or power there and there probably won’t be for days. But if you’d care to say a prayer, or send up good thoughts, for him and all the others in the Keys, I’d appreciate it.
Be well and thank you for reading. Feel free to join me on Facebook and Instagram.