Tuesday, September 12, 2017

my hurricane irma experience.


When we first caught wind of catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma sweeping across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean, and making her way up to Florida. My externship was unexpectedly cancelled for the day, so I decided to trek into Publix for regular groceries + "just in case" nonperishables. It was hardly 10 a.m., and all regular water bottles & jugs of water were gone. Drove to Costco next (big mistake - should have made this trip first). A line of 30+ cars were backed up over just to get into the parking lot, 10+ cars per gas line, etc. Solution? I parked across the street, managed to find an abandoned cart, picked up some wine & more nonperishable items...then proceeded to stand in a line to get into the real line for 45 minutes.

...and that was when it was projected to go up the east coast of Florida (I'm in Tampa, on the state's west coast). We weren't even in the predetermined path, and it felt like we were preparing for the apocalypse.

Wednesday & Thursday

Hoopla all around. A solid 50/50 combination of, "Are you evacuating? Are you evacuating? What flood zone are you in? I'm leaving first thing tomorrow, I'm boarding up my windows, I'm freaking out" and "How long have you lived in Florida? We know how to survive a hurricane. We'll be fine. Quit worrying."

Ryan did another nonperishable food run, and brought home 10 different kinds of soups.

Me: "babe, if we're without power, how are we going to eat soup?"
Ryan: "Sam, this isn't Bougie-R-Us. If we're without power long enough, we'll be eating cold soup."
Me: "..."


I worked lunch, which is normally crazy busy. Instead, the restaurant was a ghost town. We stood around for most of the day - conversations still a jumble of "I'm evacuating tonight!" and "C'MON, it's only going to be a Category 2 by the time it gets here, we're having a hurricane party!" 

...until later in the afternoon, when we caught wind (ha...puns) that the storm track changed, and she was heading straight up the west coast, beginning with Key West as a projected Category 5, with plans to plummet through Tampa Bay as a Category 3 or 4. Suddenly, the mood took a real turn. Everyone was hypersensitive, people were calling out of work left and right to make last minute evacuations. I had a pit in my stomach for the rest of the evening as we were met with a sobering feeling that this storm could change everything about the city we love.


Ryan and I spent the morning cleaning the entire apartment. We figured that if we were stranded without power for days on end, we may as well have dusted shelves and an organized pantry. My good friend, Lauren, who was in flood zone A (aka a mandatory evacuation area) took refuge in our apartment for the weekend, and showed up with Oreos, bagels, and even more wine.

We made one last trip "out," and it was a ghost town. By 3 p.m., all the Targets in the area closed, so you can imagine my panic was starting to set in real quick. Everything was closed. Most weekends, I like to stay in, watch movies at home, and avoid spending money. But I always have the option to go out, to pick up a shift at work, to have an impromptu date night. Never have I ever wanted to go out and do something more than when I didn't have that option.

Cue endless games of Joking Hazard, getting Lauren hooked on The Mick, and Ryan heating up three frozen pizzas while we guzzled back wine and called it a night before "the big day," aka when Irma was scheduled to hit.


Irma moves swiftly through Key West, devastating everything in her path. Downtown Miami suffered from horrendous flooding. We stayed glued to our Snapchat maps for video updates, kept the news on, and waited. Ryan has family in both Naples & Fort Myers, so we kept in contact with them while they still had power.

We made the best of the waiting game and made egg scrambles & drank mimosas. Pro-Hurricane tip: buy more than one bottle of champagne. Tip #2: always add peach schnapps to your mimosa because it makes it so much better.

Ryan took it upon himself to set the apartment to 68 degrees in case we lost power, so the apartment would stay cooler longer. It was quite the sight to see the three of us bundled up in long pants, fuzzy socks, and sweaters when it was still 80 degrees outside. Two mimosas later, Lauren and I fell asleep on the couch for two hours because #lightweights.

We started getting wind gusts around 7 p.m. with sideways rain. I'll cut to the chase here - we were very fortunate, and did not take a direct hit the way we anticipated. Due to her prolonged amount of time on land, Irma had weakened to a Category 2 storm by the time she reached us, and moved a bit to the east toward the center of the state. We only lost power for about three seconds, and haven't lost it again since. We stayed up until around 2 a.m. watching movies (Get A Job & American Beauty), drinking even more wine, and watching the trees thrash around in the wind.

The extent of the damage to our complex and area in general was minimal. The gusts brought down a few trees in our complex and overflowed the lake across the grass and into the pool (talk about "lagoon-like"). My parents and many of my friends have not been so lucky - as of 9 p.m. last night, my parents are still without power. It was a bad storm, but it could have been so much worse for us all.

In conclusion:

To say we've all been in some kind of suspended state of living is an understatement. This week feels like a blur. My university is closed until Thursday, so my Monday & Tuesday classes were cancelled. I have no idea when I'll start my externship back up. Even our apartment complex gym is closed until further notice. Despite the fact that I've had the last week off from virtually every responsibility, I haven't been relaxed. I didn't get much homework done, I didn't make a dent in my new library book, I certainly didn't eat very well. I haven't even worn makeup in three days (okay, that's been kind of great).

Needless to say, I am so ready to get back into a regular life and routine. I'm ready to get ahead on schoolwork, to get back in the gym, to make plans with friends and have date nights, to put this entire hurricane fiasco behind us. Again, we are so fortunate to have experienced as little damage as we did. My heart is with those in my state who were not as lucky. This storm was not one to mess around with, and I am so thankful that she finally passed us. 

Note to the government: maybe let me know about a potential direct Hurricane hit, like, two days beforehand. This whole week of waiting + anxiety? Yeah, never want to do that again.


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