My sister Marilee and her family have lived in Orlando more than 30 years now. Here she is with an eyewitness account of preparations for Hurricane Irma — they anticipate they’ll experience the first signs of the storm tomorrow night.
by Marilee Amodt
Hurricanes — we’ve seen a few. Andrew, Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Matthew. Like a blind date, you never know what might happen. Irma has been all over the map, so we aren’t quite sure what to think about her. Will she remain strong, or will she weaken at the sight of us?
We are prepared for our date. We have batteries, lanterns, water, gas in the car and all of the right snacks. How long will she stay? The date might fizzle out quickly. That would be okay with us.
This hurricane season is a bit different in our household. My husband, Rick, had surgery on his leg ten days ago. He is still recovering. Normally he is the one shopping for food and supplies, draining the pool, and cooking enough food to last a week. Not this time.
We have had plenty of notice about the upcoming storm. Since Rick was recovering, we were home for Labor Day. I spent that day shopping. I filled the car with gas, too, and didn’t wait in a line at all. Rick is the cook in our family, but I’ve done more cooking this week than I have in decades. I learned how to drain the pool, and our daughter Jennifer and our three-year-old granddaughter helped us move things around in the pool area to prevent them from flying away in the storm.
When I’m out and about I see long lines at gas stations. I stand in long lines myself at grocery stores and big box stores. Pre-storm activity. People have been friendly for the most part. “Are you ready for Irma?” is a typical conversation starter.
On our neighborhood’s page on social media, new Florida residents are looking for advice from Hurricane survivors of previous years. Plywood has been a hot topic. Where is it available? Should we board all the windows? Why aren’t you covering your windows? The questions go on. Should I cut that tree down? When do you drain the pool? Do you have a generator? Which gas station has gas? Where can I find bottled water? When do you make the decision to leave?
If you are asking that one, it is too late.
Our son Robbie and his family live in South Florida. They’ve made the difficult decision to move to a shelter, and we are relieved to know they’ll be in a safe place. Robbie works for the city of Boca Raton and needs to stay in the area: he’s part of the city recovery team.
On social media, our daughter’s good friend Amy asked her Facebook friends to imagine someone telling you that a huge, scary monster is going to come along in a couple days that might destroy everything you own. “They don’t know if that will really happen or when, but they keep talking about it and warning you,” she says. “You buy Pop Tarts, and you wait and wait and wait. Yep, hurricanes suck” And then yesterday our daughter Jen added this:
We have heard of Irma for weeks. We have agonized over her all week. We have cleared shelves of water, canned goods, and bread. And now on this beautiful sunny day, where schools have been closed in preparation, we wait. We sift through memories of past hurricanes. Will we be without power (ever important AC in Florida) for a day, two weeks? Will our roof survive? Should a major gust hit our huge beautiful oak trees, will they crush our car or house? Only time can tell us. So in these final days as we sit in anticipation we prepare our house as best we can (patio furniture indoors, boards on windows, sandbags at the doors), batting down the hatches and ensure our kiddos everything will be okay. When ultimately none of us have any idea what lies ahead! Please be kind Irma.
So as we prepare for another date with destiny, we feel confident and yet wary about what might come of this meeting. We will let you know how it goes. In this case, we are hoping that the date is a flop!