If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know this is not like any of my other posts and you also probably know I live in South Florida, even more accurately, Marathon in the Florida Keys. Recently, we were devastated by Hurricane Irma and I wanted to share with y'all just a few of the things (some less serious than others) I've learned over the past few weeks.
- Professionally speaking I should be a meteorologist or at least a news broadcaster: When you are refreshing the Weather Underground on your phone every 10 minutes for a week straight waiting on the next update, you get really good at anticipating what’s happening in the atmosphere, which predictions are the most on point and which ones will just never happen. Basically, I’m as close to being a real meteorologist as I am a doctor after looking up my symptoms on WebMD. With my weather based knowledge, I could never be a meteorologist, but I feel like one and that’s what counts, right?
- How to prioritize your life in a hurry: When you have to make decisions with limited time and space, it is not easy. Imagine for a few seconds looking at everything you own and deciding what to take and what to leave behind. Where do you even start? You don't want to pack all of your underwear in one bag cause what if that’s the one bag that gets left behind. You need to keep a level head and pack smart - or just throw everything in sight into multiple bags, take a shot of rum, and hope for the best.
- It is possible to go to Target and not buy anything: I never thought that was true until two days after Irma hit the Keys I found myself at Target looking at sloth shaped paperclips thinking “Who in the world needs this stuff?” Normally I’d say "ME, duh, they are sloth shaped paperclips!" Who goes to Target and doesn't buy anything? I guess after loosing anything you couldn't fit in your car from a hurricane, you don't really want pointless junk anymore. *Update: Almost three weeks out and I still don't want pointless junk. Just waiting for the day I can go to Target again, grab a Starbucks and spend $50 on things I don't need. At least I’m saving money.
- Meal planning with no electricity (stove, microwave, refrigeration): One of the fun ones giving me the distinct feeling of being in college mixed with camping. From tuna sandwiches made with mayo packs you took from a fast food chain to breakfast burritos complete with a can of black beans, velvetta, and hardboiled eggs. Sometimes you have to get creative. *To clarify: even though I evacuated for the storm, this was to go back into the Florida Keys for a few days and try to salvage, clean up, etc. when you are planning for no running water, no electricity, no sewage, limited communication, a curfew, oh and no house. Gratefully though, we were able to stay with friends who did have electricity and water by the time we got to the keys.
- The best plan is no plan: Discuss all you want folks and come up with every possible scenario, everything will be different 20 minutes from now and you will go from plan Z back to plan A. The storm could be going East and then it goes West. The power comes on and it goes back off. You have to go with the flow and do what is best overall for you in that moment (says my inner yoga teacher; Namaste).
- Don’t underestimate mother nature. She can be a biotch: My house was destroyed along with many others affected by Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria. I’m not talking a few holes in my roof, 3 inches of water in the house destroyed, I mean G-O-N-E goneeee (if you don't believe me, see photos above because yes, that is, or I guess was, my home). This is not a situation I would wish upon anyone and I am fortunate to have friends and family with whom I can stay. Coming home to a house with no roof or walls is not a fun experience and I am so happy I evacuated. Better safe than sorry.
- Sometimes you have to accept help: Some people, including me, have a difficult time accepting things from people in general (think coffee), let alone accepting when you need help. As Christy Wright points out in her book, Business Boutique, accepting things from other people puts you in a vulnerable position which is often why people don't. At some point in your life, you need to learn to accept these things from other people. Whether that is for a gallon of fresh water or a helping hand moving debris, Irma has forced me to not only accept help from others, but to ask for it. When a crew of friends, old colleagues, and volunteers came to help, they may not know it, but they brought me to tears.
- You find out who your friends are: This is a cliche, but it could not be more true. The only ones who can relate to you are the ones who have gone through this from previous experiences or are going through it with you now. Those who didn't go through this, but were there for me I am extremely grateful to have you in my life. I know my communication has been short or nonexistent lately. This was an extremely emotional time and having to retell happenings again and again is even more emotionally draining, but everyones thoughts and words were comforting nonetheless.
- Luke Combs has never been hit by a hurricane: I listen to all types of music including country and “Hurricane” took on a whole new meaning. I’m sorry Luke, I still love you, but I don't even want to listen to your song anymore because running into your ex at a bar is not remotely similar to getting hit by a hurricane. Trust me, I know. *Note to Luke Combs: If you were actually hit by a hurricane, disregard the above.
- People can be ruthless: I’m shocked by the lowlife looters who took advantage of this natural disaster. When you're searching through piles of houses stacked up to find a diamond in the rough you might make $10 off of, how can you not consider the people who lived there and have lost everything? The fact that people take the few pieces that are left of someones life is disgusting. There are no other words for it. Individuals shouldn't have to guard their neighborhoods to protect them from looters and yet here people are, guns in hands and warning signs all around.
- The Keys community is amazing: Aside from the few who belong in the category above, I have never been so in awe at the strength and unity of the Florida Keys. Particularly in Marathon, from people giving their cars to strangers in need of transportation for evacuation to the individuals working day and night to rebuild, I love being apart of it.
There are so many other things I've learned, but this is all I can manage to share right now. The past month has been draining; emotionally, physically, mentally. I keep reminding myself there are worse things that could have happened and I am beyond grateful for the support of my family and friends. I can't wait to get back to my Keys community to continue rebuilding stronger than ever before. My heart goes out to everyone affected by Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Stay strong.
Here is a link to some photos of the destruction that are way better than mine.
Please considering donating to help efforts of these recent disasters. If you are interested in making a difference specifically in the Florida Keys, here is a list of reputable organizations working to make a difference.