When one lives in Florida, a hurricane seems to consume everything.
My mind cannot seem to keep track of anything except The Weather Channel, Facebook, and preparing for the worst. Its the uncertainty that weighs on you. I've been waking up thinking about what we need to do. Anxiety does not help one prepare.
So here we are preparing for another hurricane, but this one is a doozy. And we are already preparing, though the hurricane is over 500 miles south of us. Though that is a long way off, believe it or not this afternoon, we were beginning to get our first winds. This storm is massive.
We drove down to our little coast house yesterday afternoon and began preparing it for the worst. Irma seems to be waffling down in the Florida Straits, skirting Cuba, and wobbling around from forecast to forecast, always seemingly tracking west. That is a bad thing for us up here who live around the Gulf of Mexico. So we finally got serious . I had already spent Thursday sitting in lines for gas and thinking through what we had to do to get ready. Wednesday instead of shopping for water, I bought a bottle of gin and some tonic water. We already had the water, which was bought at the beginning of Hurricane season.
Yesterday afternoon, we pulled everything from outside into the coast house. All the lawn furniture, outdoor art, gardening tools, a kayak, a paddle board, and even the lawnmower are now sitting in our living room. All of this becomes flotsam in these storms, plus this storm has wind so they could become projectiles, too. Inside everything is pulled from the tables, counter tops and walls and placed on the floor. When a storm hits, these little houses can get to rocking and rolling. Anything left on a table will walk right off the side. After Hurricane Dennis, it was so bad that everything in the medicine cabinets fell on the counter tops and in the sinks. Some even busted.
This morning we found 20 pieces of half inch plywood at a lumber yard not too far from our home. Then this afternoon, Chuck, our son Jeff and son-in-law Patrick screwed the plywood over our windows with wood screws. It took them all afternoon. While they were securing the coast house, I was at home in Tallahassee bringing in all the outdoor furniture, potted plants, bird feeders and anything else that may get damaged or become a projectile. It’s times like this when I question why I have so much stuff.
Facebook keeps us sane. It is soothing to know that your friends, neighbors, and family are all doing the same thing. I have several cousins who evacuated–one inland, another north, and one all the way to South Carolina. We keep up with each other on Facebook. There are gas reports, generator reports, and just about anything needed that is in short supply. But the hurricane humor is what keeps us truly sane.
Like, you know its time to run like hell when Disney World closes. Or you know it’s Irmageddon when they cancel the state’s college football games.
Someone just posted that, now Georgia residents know what Florida’s traffic is like. But then again my husband calls Atlanta’s traffic a hell hole so I think they already knew. People in Orlando posted a picture of a high rise on I-4 that they must believe is an eyesore because it said, “Ok Irma, we’re counting on you!”
One friend asked everyone to spend today taking a good bath, washing their hair, and shaving anywhere that needs it, because tomorrow some reporter will stick a mike in your face trying to find the worst dressed, worst sweat drenched person they can find in the state for an interview. Another suggested that everyone who owns pythons, tarantulas or lions please make sure they are secure during the hurricane so we all don’t have to go out and try to round them up when it is over. This was a reference to the pythons that got loose when Andrew hit south Florida. That’s why we have pythons living in the Everglades now. I guess there weren’t too many volunteers for that job back then.
And every hurricane, someone will post to please let them know where Jim Cantore is so we know where not to go. Then there’s everyone’s favorite evacuation plan–1. Grab Beer 2. Run Like Hell.
Today, I noticed so many men picking up the junk around their houses. One guy had a wagon load of scrap wood that I know had been in a pile near their home for quite some time. I’m thinking that a good hurricane is probably a good old boy’s wife’s best friend. She’s probably been trying to get him to haul that junk off for years.
And who needs to go to the gym? Today, I put 5,000 steps on my Blaze before 9 a.m. It takes a lot of steps to put all that stuff from your yard away. Did I mention that I have too much stuff? The foyer, dining room, and den looks like we are having a garage sale. Maybe we should!
But I cannot expect to lose any weight. Stress eating is a part of the anxiety. I broke down at lunch today and bought a slice of coconut cake–to go! I wonder how it will taste with my gin and tonic?
We brought back the free standing cooker from the coast. Even though we have a generator, it cannot run the air conditioner, too; and it will be too hot to cook in the house. But then again who can eat anyway when you’re that hot. That is where the coconut cake comes into play because no matter how bad I feel I cannot turn down my favorite food group–comfort foods.
And we Floridians should know a thing or two about camping. It is required living after hurricanes. No power means no air, and it is cooler to sleep outdoors, cook outdoors, and live outdoors. Why do you think our ancestors slept on sleeping porches anyway? Our back porch makes a great campsite, something discovered after Hurricane Kate.
And if you get really desperate, every bathtub in the house is full of water. That cool dip won’t be a problem since old bath water flushes just as well as fresh water. Hopefully, no one has tried to drink from it; though I’ve caught Abby our cat checking it out.
So How Much Done is Enough
Usually, we don’t bother to board up for a Category 1 hurricane, but this one is different. It bears paying extra attention.
Last year we survived Hurricane Hermine, a puny category 1 which came ashore east of the coast house. The coast house did well, but our dock did not. You can read about it here. At home in Tallahassee we lost three very large pine trees, but no damage to the house.
Irma, though, is majorly different. They’ve forecasted it as at least a Cat 2 when it gets here. Hurricane Kate, our Thanksgiving hurricane back in the late 80’s, came through here as a Cat 2, except when they saw the destruction in its aftermath, they upgraded it to a Cat 3. Our home in Tallahassee was without power for over two weeks. Irma worries us, and the thing keeps tracking west.
Yesterday, though, I posted on Facebook that they could thank the Littlejohn’s because we just finished boarding up the Coasthouse. Every time we board up, the storm goes somewhere else.
If it gets west of our coast house and Tallahassee, you can bet it will get much worse. The east side of these storms is where the winds are their most destructive. That is why they had the southeast coast on alert, even though Irma will most likely come up the west coast. Florida is just not that wide, and the storm is huge. Its effects will be felt coast to coast.
Then there are the tornadoes. They almost always accompany these storms, and they are usually embedded in the bands and strike inland. Years ago Hurricane Opal came ashore near Pensacola and moved on off up through Alabama. My daughter was at Troy State University, which was about 130 miles north of the Gulf. We thought she was safe there, but not really though, because Opal spawned tornadoes, several of which hit Troy. They tore up that little college town, especially the campus.
So we are staying where we are here in Tallahassee; but still, will keep a close eye on this storm. We are now under hurricane warning; and today, our county’s authorities gave a voluntary evacuation order.
All the while Irma continues to move sporadically when ever and where ever she pleases. It is so big that you can see her pulse as she re-forms new eyewalls. It is an amazing phenomenon, and if she intensifies, we may just bug out with our other 6.2 million fellow Floridians.
Can the last person who crosses over into Georgia or Alabama, please bring the flag?