Preparing For Hurricane Irma – The Down-Side of Living in Florida

While we love living in Florida, we admit that summer brings a lot of uncertainty along with the heat and humidity. That is the down-side of living in paradise for nine months of the year. While we have not had a serious hurricane since 2004, when both Frances and Jean hit our coast, we have had a few close calls. Last year we prepared for Matthew, which was to make a direct impact on our coast, but mercifully skirted up the Atlantic Ocean without making landfall in Florida. Nevertheless, we took every precaution to be ready. That is simply what we do when a threat arises. Preparations can take hours or even days, depending on the type and location of a home.

Our home is sturdy and built to a code that was adopted in our state after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida twenty-five years ago. It is fitted for metal storm shutters that have been applied to the house on at least five occasions in the past fifteen years. Covering windows is the most time consuming part of our hurricane preparations.

We live in a two story home, and while we are capable of installing the downstairs shutters, we have to hire help for the upstairs windows. It is costly, but not nearly as costly as installing Accordion Shutters (which are permanent) or some of the newer applications which are lighter in weight. We started preparations for Irma a week ago and for the past three days, the windows of our home have been shuttered, creating a virtual bunker in which to ride out the storm.

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We have stockpiled water, filled propane tanks for our gas grill, added additional clorine to the pool, topped off the gas in our cars, filled the bathtub with water, (for flushing toilets) located lanterns and flashlights, checked batteries, secured precious items into plastic bags and located insurance policies, health insurance cards, etc.; trees have been trimmed and debris removed, patio furniture has been moved to the garage, (along with everything else that might move during high winds), while still leaving space for our cars. The freezer is stocked with ice bags to prolong defrosting and we have enough meals prepared to last for several days. The past week has been physically stressful, but the mental stress is what really takes a toll.

Irma

The digital age has taken hurricane reporting to a whole new level, and it is easy to be engulfed by information and propelled into overload. In my opinion, there are too many models for forecasting the track of a storm, especially given that none of them seem to be reliable and each one sends your emotions racing in different directions. I also think there is a fine line between responsible reporting and sensationalism. I am completely in favor of a centralized information bureau when it comes to disseminating hurricane information!

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a virtual spaghetti bowl of storm projections

Unless a storm is clearly forecast to go out to sea, we will endure the physical exertion and the emotional roller-coaster ride every time to keep our property and family safe. To avoid overload, we limit our television viewing to scheduled updates from the National Weather Service and our local government. I also use a weather app for updates on my phone.

Irma has gone from catastrophic to barely there for our coast, in just a matter of days. We are eternally grateful that the latest track shows that we are no longer in the path of destruction, but we remain diligent until the storm has passed. Our hearts go out to everyone on the west coast of Florida and to those left in her wake.

Even with the latest track, we still expect to loose electricity, and so the fun begins. Our city curfew is for 3:00 p.m. today, which means we will be sheltered in place at that time. We have games to play, books to read and movies to watch for as long as we have power.

The aftermath is unpredictable for us, but we will do what we need to do to clean up and secure our property within the next several days. Staying in our home for a prolonged period with no electricity in 90+ degree heat will not be an option, but we will cross that bridge if it comes.

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Current track showing the exact opposite of two days ago. Looks like a West Coast storm. Be Safe!

Last week Malcolm and I had planned to be in St. Augustine (The First Coast) and Cocoa Beach (The Space Coast) instead of preparing for a hurricane. We will get back on track with our summer Blogging goals within the next few weeks, but sadly, we expect the Cultural Coast and the Nature Coast to be altered for some time and will likely postpone visits to those areas until a more appropriate time.

We wish everyone in the path of Irma safety and will leave you with a photo I took yesterday at our favorite East Coast beach. Good luck Florida.

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This sight alone makes it all worthwhile.

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11 Responses to Preparing For Hurricane Irma – The Down-Side of Living in Florida

  1. chuckbessey says:

    As of Sat pm, looks like she is turning westerly – perhaps our risks have been minimized.

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  2. It looks like you are well-protected but hopefully those shutters won’t be tested as Irma continues to track to the west. What craziness!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gilda Baxter says:

    Suzanne I have been thinking of you and I am glad to hear the catastrophic forecast has now been downgraded…relief. Very interesting to hear about all the preparations and I am surprised that you would stay put? Although your house looks like Fort Knox with all those shutters, I wonder why you would not evacuate like many others have? Just curious. Natural disasters are unpredictable and can happen anywhere in the world, Florida certanly gets more than it’s fair share, but it is paradise for most of the time😄 Definitely worth living in such a beautiful place. I hope soon you can resume your travels. Keep safe.

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    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Gilda, thank you for your concern. Generally folks that have evacuated live in low lying areas that are subject to flooding (coastal areas,the Keys ,homes on canals, rivers, etc. also mobile homes and homes not built to current code.) Our home withstood a category 3 storm in 2004 so we feel very safe here. The storm surge would have to reach 13 feet to affect us and winds would have to be in excess of 140mph. The upside of a hurricane, if there is one, is that there is time to prepare and as you can see, we have. We fully expected impact until 48 hours ago when it tracked to the West Coast. If it had stayed on the East Coast track we might have made a different decision. Some folks are just stubborn, and stay out of ignorance with no preparations and will end up in lots of trouble. You are right in that anything can happen, but our experience has been that the coming home to a disaster area is so much worse than evacuating. We prefer to stick around, access damage, clean up, help where ever we can and then find a cool place to stay for the duration of a power outage. In the end, it is a somewhat calculated, but reasonably educated decision. Sorry for turning my answer into another POST, but glad you asked the question. Can’t wait for the next 12 hours to pass. We are getting weather bands and wind gusts, but the power is still on. Irma is hitting the Keys now and will make landfall around Sarasota later today. Hopeful…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kemkem says:

    I was just thinking the same as Gilda..as far as the house looking like Fort Knox. It’s nerve wrecking waiting and preparing for a hurricane. We experienced our first one when we moved to Houston and Ike struck. Despite the many earthquakes experienced in L.A, none of them compared to that. We had some damage but less than others. Glad you guys were able to escape this one. So much happening in the world right now 😦

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  5. Judith says:

    You make preparing for a hurricane sound very cool headed but the uncertainty must be exhausting, even when the storm passes you by. Your post helps explain why and how people choose to stay in the possible path of a storm. Leaving isn’t an easy option either.

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  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    I hope you weathered Irma with little to no damage. Your home does look like a fortress and that it could withstand a lot of abuse.

    My sister, and one of my closest friends, both have homes on the west coast near Sarasota. I still have not heard how they fared through the storm and it is most concerning.

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    • Suzanne says:

      Joanne, I am sorry to hear of your sister and friend. I hope you hear from them soon. Cell phone and internet service has been spotty at best these past few days in most areas of Florida. Best wishes and thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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