Living in Central Florida we sometimes have a visitor who barges in on short notice.
Like any visitor, this one requires preparation. But instead of tidying the house and making coffee, those of us who live here find ourselves filling the gas tank ( just in case) withdrawing money from the bank, stockpiling batteries and gallons of water and foods that can be eaten directly from the package. We also fill the bathtub and have several buckets handy, brimming over with water (to flush the toilet.)
Because this visitor is not a guest, and is not welcome. If he or she decides not to stop by, we all feel relieved.
By now you realize that I’m describing preparing for a hurricane.
Until I moved to Florida in the late 90’s, I had never been through a hurricane. Then we had a trio of them visit us in rapid succession in 2004. And I got to experience firsthand the sheer enormity and terror of these storms. Fortunately, our house sustained almost no damage the year of Charley, Frances and Jeanne. (Weirdly, hurricanes are named, as if they are desirable visitors to an area.)
Last week, we had another hurricane stalking us along the east coast of Florida—Matthew—a ferocious storm, described as a category 4 or 5. For days, we listened to the weather forecast, trying to decide how much preparation was needed. As the hurricane came closer, it appeared that we were in for it—a full blown major hurricane that was capable of seriously altering our lives. After spending what seemed like a fortune, I felt ready to face the onslaught from Mathew. Luckily, my dog and I were able to go to my friend’s home to ride the storm out together.
One of the bonuses of living in Central Florida means that I reside where people evacuate to. And our homes are built to post Hurricane Andrew standards, so they are secure enough to weather most storms. But, I didn’t relish the idea of facing the hurricane alone.
Even though there was almost no hope of avoiding the wrath of Matthew,at the last moment he “wobbled” to the east just enough to spare us! (That’s another strange part of hurricane culture—meteorologists use words like wobble to describe its motion.) Of course, other areas were not as lucky, and they received a full blast from this enormous storm and sustained a lot of damage.
I think I’d prefer a good old snow storm. I understand snowstorms, and now that I’m retired, I don’t have to drive to work every day. The aftermath of a snowstorm can be a beautiful blanket of fresh, clean snow and ice that glazes the trees and makes the world seem mystical.
Unlike a hurricane which leaves downed trees, damaged roofs and homes, ruined beaches, destroyed roads, and sometimes lost lives in its wake. (Of course, I have experienced killer blizzards that have held a city in its frigid grip for weeks at a time and resulted in deaths.)
Hurricane season is starting to wind down—although I learned a few years ago that hurricanes can form at any time of year. Summer and Fall are just the most likely times for them to do so. Needless to say, I hope I never have to go through the anxiety of preparing for a hurricane again—although I think there is little hope of that.
Image from Pixababy