IRMA, PREPARING FOR A HURRICANE, A PERSONAL ACCOUNT BY AUTHOR MARGARET LAKE
You may have heard of her. Her name is Irma, and she has just caused major destruction across the Caribbean and nearly destroyed one island: Barbuda. Gaston Browne, prime minister of Barbuda, said the island is rubble.
The mayor of the city of Fort Liberty on Haiti’s northern coast, Louis Jacques Etienne, called Irma a “nuclear hurricane.”
“Crops are destroyed, cattle is dead, and my cities are broken.
An Unwelcome Visitor
So, how does one prepare for a storm of this magnitude? I’m in Florida about halfway between Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando. We can expect some weakening of this Category 5 monster, but it may not be soon enough. Hurricane winds extend 70 miles out from the center and tropical storm winds extend 185 miles out from the center.
I’m sort of the expert in my neighborhood since I went through Hurricane Andrew, another Category 5. The big difference is that Andrew was only 90 miles across and moved very quickly. That didn’t stop South Miami from being destroyed, but it definitely could have been much worse.
I’ve lived in Florida since 1958 and have been through several major hurricanes, so I’m calling on all the lessons I’ve learned since then. But I’m not one of those geezerettes (a much nicer term than old codger) who isn’t leaving her home out of stubbornness. I’ve mentally listed the pros and cons and decided to stay.
Why? The biggest reason is it’s less dangerous to stay. I remember Andrew, how many people tried to flee and got stuck on the road with no gas. They had to ride out the storm in their cars. Somehow I think being in my concrete block house is preferable to sitting in a car being battered by 150 mph winds and hoping the storm surge doesn’t sweep me away.
Some of my friends and relatives left two days ago, and they are making very slow progress out of the state. It took my cousin six hours to drive 100 miles.
So, having made that decision, consulting with my 19 year-old grandson who lives me, it was time to plan. And to plan properly, I needed to talk to my neighbors. We had to pull together; trading information, sharing supplies, looking out for each other.
I just sold my house to a newlywed couple and moved next door. They’ve never been through this before. I took the wife shopping because her husband had taken the car to work. I even gave them pee-pads for their dog. Mine won’t use them. I’ll be cleaning up a lot.
Two neighbors put up most of my storm shutters which was quite a job since they didn’t fit. My son-in-law finished the job and brought me a can of gas for my generator.
My neighbor across the street tracked down generators for us and his brother. He picked them up and his brother set them up for us.
Shutters – check
Plastic containers filled with water and put in the freezer – check
Anything outside that could turn into a deadly missile brought inside (everything) – check
Flashlights – check
Batteries – check
Candles and matches – not checked. I packed them when I moved and haven’t found them yet.
Meds up to date – check
Tubs filled with water – not checked yet
Generator filled with gas and an extra can full - check.
There’s probably a lot more on the list, but I’ve been going full tilt since Tuesday and I’m wiped out.
Am I scared? You bet. I’d be dumb not to be. But I’m hopeful at the same time.
I’ll be keeping in touch on Facebook as Margaret Lake. Fingers crossed, candles lit, and prayers for all of those who lost their homes and more and for all of those who are still facing the horror that is the beast named Irma.
You may enjoy reading: Waiting for a Hurricane.
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