Hurricane Advice from the Gulf Coast

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I don’t care what Jimmy Buffett said. You just can’t reason with hurricane season. And I am worrying and praying for all my Yankee buddies who don’t have any idea what they are in for. Maybe, maybe, there will be a change in the winds and Irene the B!tch will decide to go out to sea. Don’t count on it though. Hurricanes are known for their predilection for worst case scenarios.

I’m a fifth-generation Florida native, so I know some stuff about hurricanes. And the main thing I know is, GET OUT! One time, several years ago, I let DH talk me into staying when our home was predicted to take a direct hit. He thought we should stay and protect our stuff from the post-storm looters. Some relatives came to our place, because we are at least on one of Florida’s only hills, and not in a flood zone.

The drawbacks to this plan became all too clear when, about 230 am, the pine tree in our back yard suddenly became the pine tree in our den. We had put the kids down to sleep on the floor of the den, and without warning, the tree crashed down right over them. Our 12-year-old niece was only three feet away from having her skull broken by the trunk.

And at that moment, I realized that we were all on our own. You don’t call 911 during a hurricane. I mean, I guess you can call, if the phones are working, but the emergency services in our town were not going out into it. No ambulance, no cops, no fire department til after the storm.

Once the storm passed, we were without power for 6 weeks. Think about that. SIX WEEKS. You may not realize what that means. A month and a half of cooking on a camp stove. 42 days of darkness between 6 pm and 6 am. Trying to bathe with baby wipes. The last straw was when the sewer system crashed and people were using holes in the back yard.

See, public utilities and government services are really what keep us out of the middle ages. And after Ivan, Pensacola went back to the fourteenth century for a while.

In my day job, I’m a fairly well-respected professional. I work in both the court system and the public schools. I am nice, normal, and middle-class. But a hurricane turned me into one of those third-world women you see on the news, foraging for whatever they can find in the wreckage.

The aforementioned tree left a massive hole in our roof, through which rain, bugs and rodents poured. The DH said that he had some tar in the garage, but he needed a fairly large piece of wood or metal to put over the hole. I volunteered to go up the street to the remains of a convenience store. There were bits of it lying all over the place, and I thought part of the aluminum awning would work for our purposes.

So there I am, no bath for 3 days, hot, hungry, and tired, rooting through the wreckage for an appropriate scrap. Then, out of the blue, someone yelled, “Freeze! Put your hands up!”

I looked around and saw a kid that couldn’t have been long out of high school, dressed in a National Guard uniform and pointing an incredibly big gun AT ME! He told me there was no looting. So I did what any Southern girl would do — I burst into tears and told him I wasn’t looting, I just wanted a scrap of aluminum to fix my roof.

Once he realized I wasn’t there to find the abandoned beer, he was really sweet and he helped me drag a huge piece of metal down the block to my house.

But the thing is, I went from well-respected citizen to refugee in no time at all. I’d never had a gun pointed at me in my life!

Do not underestimate what a hurricane can do. If you are trying to decide whether you should evacuate or not, you should. Especially if you have kids. I will never again take that kind of chance with my babies. I can always buy more stuff if I get looted, but I’ll get my family out of harm’s way!

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One response to “Hurricane Advice from the Gulf Coast

  1. Brings back memories, Arabella. We only lost a roof from Ivan. The next year, however, we were hip deep in debris from Mobile Bay. What a mess. Fortunately, could hunker down at home-no power but no snakes. I hope folks heed your warning. Rita Bay

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