It’s Friday and here I sit. I am watching weather reports. I’m trying to make the best decision I can in light of what information is available.
We have been warned of an impending hurricane named Irma. Cute name, huh? We have further been told by the weather wizards and prognosticators that Irma is the largest hurricane in recorded history. This storm is scheduled to hit southern Florida as a Category five hurricane. At that point, and this is where it gets a little iffy, the storm will travel up the center of the state of Florida and hit southern Georgia as a Category one or possibly Category two hurricane.
For those of you who don’t know, I live on St. Simons Island which is approximately ten miles east of Brunswick, Georgia. It is basically a barrier island. This is truly a beautiful place with huge oak trees which are hundreds of years old. This island has seen many, many storms over the years and so have these trees. Today, however, we are in the target area of Irma.
Now it’s Saturday and we have been ordered to evacuate the island today. In fact, our local emergency management people have ordered the evacuation of our entire county which includes Brunswick. Incidentally, there are no available rooms in the entire state or even in surrounding areas. Many Floridians have reservations with hotels in this county but these will be cancelled and those people will have to just find someplace else to hunker down. Our son-in-law’s mother has invited us all to her house on the extreme west side of the state which should give us safety. That will be a four to five hour drive which we will probably undertake tomorrow.
The latest update just came in. The storm is now due to hit Georgia about 150 miles west of my home. Winds are forecast for the island of about 50mph at their strongest. That is barely a tropical storm. Now the dilemma, what to do? This storm could move even further west and miss us entirely, or, it could go the other way and smack us right in the face. What to do?
This is the dichotomy. As I look outside, it is a beautiful day. Our temps are in the low eighties with gentle breezes. It is a postcard day here on the island. No one could know what is bearing down on them without modern weather tracking equipment. In a couple of days, southern Florida could be under water. Much of the state could experience catastrophic damage. People could be killed. But today it is beautiful.
I am going to close this column for now and re-visit it after the storm, which should be in three days. We shall see.
We decided to ride out the storm at my daughter’s house which is about twenty miles from the coast. It hit Sunday night. We were wakened at 3:00 AM by extremely high winds, probably 75 mph or greater, and torrential rains. We also had a power failure. Sadly, because my daughter’s home is served by a well, we also lost water. So here we were. No power, no water, and what turned out to be five inches of rain in twelve hours. We were by a small lake which continued to grow. The road out front flooded. By Monday afternoon, the storm moderated but our situation didn’t.
Both we and our hosts had prepared by buying water so we had plenty. Showers were accomplished by pouring bottled water over ourselves while standing in the shower. Cold sandwiches were the order of the day. On Tuesday we ventured out to see if anybody was open. We found the Waffle House who served hot sandwiches and coffee. It was a Godsend.
Finally, on Thursday we were allowed to return to our home on the island. You can only imagine the trepidation we felt as we drove past huge downed trees to get to our home. And then we were in front of our home. We looked but saw no structural damage. Trees and limbs covered the yard but they all missed the house. I pressed the garage door opener and it opened. Power! We raced inside and the water worked. Hooray! Our freezer food survived. We immediately took real showers and had a hot meal. We were safe. Our home had survived.
So today I sit here and consider how important the little things are. Power, water, hot food. I hope I never again take these things for granted. We are indeed blessed and thankful.