September 20, 2017

What I Learned from Irmageddon

It's been over a week of recovery since the horrendous Hurricane Irma. The Hen got the true brunt of her wraith as her eye passed over the coop around 1 a.m. Now that I have power, Internet, and one less palm tree, I've been reflective of her visit. Death and destruction aside, I think I maybe learned a thing or two from her unwelcome trip.

When a hurricane is coming, people lose their god damn minds over bottled water. Yes, PLEASE be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. But one full week before the storm, every store in Florida was out of water. All I overheard out in public for days was people talking about water, and how there was none. In their panic, 99% of these people forgot about that old-timey treat called "tap water." They also forgot that stores still sold a variety of containers that could hold such tap water. Instead, much of the public complained driving from store to store, bought cases on the black market for $75, or just hoarded every last bottle they found (if they were lucky). A for effort in preparedness; F for critical thinking. Our plumbing was also unaffected without electricity, and I enjoyed some lovely tap water during the apocalyptic winds.

Land doesn't immediately kill a hurricane. As the projected path of destruction changed every 3 hours, I had to rationalize how each doom's day prognosis would actually be okay. Many projections had Irma coming straight up over all or most of our state. Even know these projected paths went directly over my house, I thought it would be fine since the sliver of land called Florida would break up Irma before she got to me. It turns out it takes more time and land to weaken a monster like Irma than I thought, so she was a mere category 2 storm of destruction over my roof. South Florida could use some mountains or something.

We got this.
Florida is stronger than I thought. As Irma leveled Caribbean islands, I mentally pictured much of Florida being leveled. I had visions of every tree snapped in half and all of our windows shattered, leaving a wet, messy shell of a home, if cement could also withstand wind. It turns out that cement buildings can handle wind just fine, and so do windows in newish Florida homes. It also turns out that much of nature grows in ways to tolerate and survive natural elements, unlike me, who laid crying on the sofa in my cement home. So many trees are still standing, because they've dealt with storms before.

Canned foods have never sold better. People cleared the canned food shelves like they were moving into a bunker for the apocolypse. Suddenly, people wanted food that would never parish in case the recovery took a year. Items that normally collect dust on the shelves were now a hot commodity. Spam: gone. Picked pig's feet: gone. I would eat tree leaves or dirt before eating a canned pig's foot.

The Zello app was all the rage for 2 seconds. As the storm approached, my Facebook newsfeed filled with posts of people sharing their user name for Zello, and encouraging others to download it as a way to keep in touch through the storm. I wondered what was so special about this magic app and how it could communicate any better than other platforms in a crisis. Could it communicate without cell service or wifi? No. Could it operate without power? No. Was it any different than the walkie talkie app I already had? ZellNo. I'm still confused.

I've changed since 2004. When I moved to Florida in 2004, the state welcomed me with a mandatory evacuation. College move-in day was postponed, and my parents and I went to the other side of the state, out of the path, and enjoyed an impromptu vacation in Ft. Lauderdale. Over the next year, I had 3 more evacuations that really felt more like a break from school and time extra with friends. I wasn't stressed; I just got out of the way and figured my college campus at sea level would be fine. This time, over 10 years later, I had a week of stress on the sunny days leading up to Irma. I prayed I'd survive with my life, and my same group of college friends and I texted each other stress updates. I don't know if the storm was that much bigger or we got that much older, but hurricanes are now serious and scary.

Why did I move here again? Or could I at least go back to college?

Kesha's back!
My Spanish Rom Com

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