Because my mother was an old-fashioned, gentle lady, the “f” word was forbidden at our house. And even though Mom has been gone for four years now, Dad still creatively uses “fracking” and “forking.”
To be completely transparent, not so I.
While we feel extremely grateful that Hurricane Irma wasn’t any worse for us in Brevard County, and our hearts break for those who experienced her devastation – especially those in the Caribbean Islands and the Keys – we’re weary from the pounding physical and emotional stress the frapping hurricanes hitting Florida have caused in the last year.
The physical stress here lay squarely and completely on the broad shoulders of my husband. I made lists of what to take during evacuation, and did laundry. For days before they made us leave our little slice of paradise a mile from the beach, Robert was out at dawn lifting, moving, sealing, protecting, tying down, roping up, wrapping up, bolting, hammering and drilling. When Happy Hour arrived each day I’d take a break from list-making and prove my usefulness by delivering him an ice cold beer.
The toughest part was the not knowing. Give us the bottom line so we can make a wise plan! Many are blaming the media for hyping it all up – what, to sell advertising? I say hurricanes are like wild animals. You can predict based on all kinds of data, but in the end that hurricane – like that alligator napping in the sun – is going to do what it dang well decides, shocking us all as we sit directly in its path. The path that the media said would be the safest place to shelter.
We were able to change our plan as Irma’s predicted path changed. I’m not saying we weren’t frantic, we weren’t panicking. We cancelled our hotel in central Florida a few hours north (our original plan) but all the hotels closer by on the mainland were now booked. And we have the added, beloved baggage of two dogs and a squirrel. Multiple tabs were open on our phones as we searched for hotels, any hotel, even that one in Titusville with the really stinky reviews on TripAdvisor. (No availability.) We researched pet-friendly shelters in our area. Wonderful friends, despite knowing we’d need to bring our 3 ring circus, offered to have us stay with them.
Amazingly, finally, we finally got the golden, sparkling, lottery-winning words from the last AirBnB available: “UR booked!” It didn’t matter at all that the guy’s place was soon to become a long-term rental, and so he’d already removed nightstands, lamps, light fixtures, and end tables. Who cared that the dining set must have previously lived on the balcony and was covered with a light dusting of outdoor grime. The place was otherwise clean, the host was kind, and a very cool tiki statue stood watch over us as we sat around waiting, worrying, and eating too much.
Optimists that we are we didn’t think we’d lose power on the mainland, but we did. No electricity, no water, and also no getting back to our island after the storm was gone, as they needed to make sure the bridges were safe. That galled, mostly because the officer turning us away was rude. But hey, tempers and emotions were running as high as those huge waves we immediately went to look at after making sure our house still had a roof, when we were finally allowed back home.
I’m not going to blithely say we are blessed that our roof stayed put and though the yard was an unholy mess, we made it through Irma pretty much fine. Doesn’t it seem outrageous, disrespectful, just purely beastly to say we’re “blessed” when so many people weren’t? But what do you say? I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. How can I? I just believe that life is intrinsically messy, and shit happens (sorry, Mom. At least it’s not the “f” word.)
And now I’m finished my rant. And, because I always tell people who sit in the comfort of their homes and rail about politics, while doing absolutely nothing, “Go out and DO something! Volunteer for the homeless! Get trained to become a Suicide Hotline volunteer! Plant a community garden!” I’m going to publish this and go open some tabs on my phone to see how we can help those whose homes didn’t make it through the freaking hurricane.
Some photos from after Irma: