The storm would turn, they said. Head out to sea, they said. But, Hurricane Irma had its own agenda and a mind of its own. It was going to strike the Florida Keys and southwest Florida, but from that point on, the weather was becoming more and more uncertain. Everyone in Florida was in a panic, myself included. Preparing before the storm was easy. Buy water and canned goods, make more ice, stock-up on candles, verify the propane grill and generator were ready to go, fill cars with gas. We were ready. Then the track moved a bit … coming north towards Tampa. My office is in an evacuation zone as it’s surrounded by bay waters on three sides. With a 8-10 foot storm surge possible, we decided to head a bit east. Friends of ours opened up their spay/neuter vet clinic to me, my husband, my sister, brother-in-law, two big dogs and two cats. Very comfortable, plenty of room, wi-fi, phones, television, water, power, etc. Our own private shelter. Until about midnight when it all changed. Although we were in a very sturdy building and winds were less than anticipated, Mother Nature was still able to take down power lines, cell towers, water pumps, etc.
Monday morning we realized things were different. We had no power, no water, no cell phone, no wi-fi. Technology was down and no one was quite sure what to do. Where did the storm hit? How much damage did it do? Were there any casualties? And where was the storm now? It’s amazing how we all depend on technology these days. With no wi-fi or cell service we were “in the dark” as to what had happened and/or was still happening.
Heading back home, we wondered what we’d encounter. No power? No water? Trees down? Roof gone? Neighborhood flooded? It was such a relief to drive around a corner and see our house with absolutely no damage! Of course, branches, etc. littered everyone’s yards and driveways, but that was about it. AND … we had power and water; no flooding! We even had cell service and wi-fi!!! We were definitely the lucky ones and tried our best to reach out to others who weren’t.
Preparing for the storm was easy. It was the after-storm that we weren’t prepared for. Many had to depend on others for information, for food, for shelter. Many were without power for several days; others for almost a week; some for even more. Red Cross, FEMA and power trucks were everywhere. Strangers helped each other clear debris; restaurants opened as quickly as possible to feed first responders; grocery stores gave away ice and water. Things slowly got back to normal.
Technology was taken away from us for a short time. With no wi-fi or cell phone, very little communication was possible. It was difficult not knowing what was happening out there. But it also helped me realize that communication isn’t always texts, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s talking to real people on the street and getting to know strangers in your neighborhood. Technology comes and goes; people are always there.
Also published on Medium.