Hurricane Irma passed over Clearwater, Florida as a Category 2. We were lucky. Ironically, during the hurricane, I had no idea how lucky I personally was.
I entered my safe-room bathroom around 10pm, knowing Irma would only be a Category 3 or 2 when it hit. Not afraid for my life, I feared broken windows and the destruction of my possessions. I calmly reposed on the swimming pool air mattress, listening to an audio book on the Kindle. The winds began to roar around 11pm. I sent a text to my best friend who lives a few miles away. No response. A little worried, I told myself cell towers must be down.
My apartment is sheltered in a corner of the building, and located next to a stair well. The stair well has a metal rung ladder that opens to the roof two stories above me. I could envision the roaring wind sweeping over the roof, rattling that ladder. I felt the bathroom wall for vibrations. Nothing. Solid structure.
I had left the air conditioner on, hoping to keep my apartment cool for as long as possible. By 11:30pm we still had power, and I was getting chilled lying on the cool bathroom floor. I turned on the flashlight to find my sweater, as I could not easily reach the light switch from my prone position.
Fifteen minutes before Midnight, two dogs from a neighboring apartment began barking sharply. Almost immediately they quieted. Was that good, or bad? The eye of the storm was upon us. I lay there, wondering if anything would crash into my big, beautiful picture windows.
How long would it take for the hurricane to pass? At 1:00am, my cell phone chirped. At last, my friend was texting me back — they were OK! According to her text, they’d been cooking, eating, and stepping outside to smoke cigarettes and watch the storm.
Next Time May Not Be So Lucky
We may not be so lucky when the next hurricane hits.
Certainly, people are utterly devastated by natural disasters all over the world. The climate scientists have been telling us that extreme weather events are occurring more often. After the last several weeks, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia, an 8.1 earthquake off Mexico, and raging wildfires in Montana, it’s as though we are passing into a new epoch — the age of North American disasters.
Meanwhile, I’m packing up my hurricane supplies to keep them handy… and may invest in a weather radio.
Irma’s Destruction Aftermath: from the Caribbean to Florida
Aware & Fair