What I learned from Hurricane Irma… and tips for the next one

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My family survived our first Florida hurricane since moving here in 2011. It was much more intense than what I planned for and anticipated, but we were SO fortunate not to have any major loss, unlike so many others who were in Irma’s path. I must say I was surprised with how well Governor Scott communicated important messages of safety, preparation, and expectations throughout the hurricane. Even those without cable (us lol) received important messages and communications as we prepared.

As I reflect on the past week and a half of hurricane madness, and have some time to write all this down, here is what I’ve learned and tips for the next hurricane:

  1. Get water… before hurricane week. We never did find bottled water, water by the gallon, etc. So we filled up cups and water bottles in our home. Luckily, we only needed a day supply (but we were prepared for 3).
  2. There was some price gouging for water. $30 for a case of water. No, I’m not kidding.
  3. Be prepared to gain 5-10 pounds on “non-perishables”. Chips, bread, beef jerky, canned food, cookies… Basically all the stuff they tell you not to buy for your health but should be bought during a hurricane. And let’s face it- it’s too tempting not to bust into those snacks before the hurricane even starts up.
  4. The community really comes together… except for on the interstates. I’ve never before heard such awful stories about rude drivers as our communities evacuated. Maybe it had something to do with…
  5. Gas station lines being OUT of gas, yet having miles long lines. Have a kid that has to use the bathroom? Good luck.
  6. Speaking of evacuation, if they tell you to get out, just get out. First responders have better things to do after the storm passes than come rescue your suborn behind who was told to evacuate, able to evacuate, and offered a ride to evacuate- yet still did not evacuate.
  7. If you can afford the luxury of flying out of town, you may want to get on that ASAP. Flights will be cancelled, delayed, and moved, and eventually, the airport will shut down.
  8. You’ll need Xanax because… schools may close for over a week. I’m not kidding (at least 7 school days here, so far). Stuck inside with kids, no school, and trying to “work from home” post hurricane can require meditation and/or medication.
  9. So be sure to get your Xanax (and everything else) before the stores close. Because they will. Every. Last. one.
  10. Once “hurricane winds” start, you’ll get curfewed. Yes, it’s for your own safety. After living through my first hurricane I 100% appreciate the curfew, even if medication is necessary.
  11. Hurricanes bring tornados… which can actually be worse than the hurricane itself. If the hurricane winds don’t bring down the trees, power lines, cars, roofs, etc., the tornados will.
  12. Hurricanes and tornados lead to being powerless… some for days. Some for weeks. Some still don’t have an estimate of power restoration.
  13. Losing power is terrible because its hot. So hot. 100 degrees Florida humidity hot. Not to mention everything in your fridge melts, leaks, and ruins.
  14. Or worse- the storm leaves you internet-less. #thehorror
  15. Generators can help… but make SURE they’re used appropriately (outside the house).
  16. Electricity comes back on, but it’s strategic. Living near a hospital, police station, or park/tour center, will get you back up first (hey we deal with tourist traffic daily, we can benefit once a disaster).
  17. While Hurricanes don’t select or discriminate between who they impact and demolish on their path, the path to hurricane recovery is certainly not equal, which we have seen recently in Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and now Irma. Low income individuals are the last to recover from devastation. Some of these people will never return home and can never rebuild what they lost. We must remember these individuals as our communities rebuild and recover.

Stay safe everyone. Who knows what disaster is coming at us next. Now excuse me while I go buy some bottled water. Lol.

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