I wanted to take a few minutes and jot down my thoughts about going through Hurricane Irma with my family. This hurricane was actually the second one that we have gone through. We were living in Florida last October during Hurricane Matthew. That experience was much different than Irma. We did have a lot of high winds with Matthew, but nothing compared to what Irma brought. This was one massive hurricane that covered the Florida peninsula.
We began preparing for Hurricane Irma on Monday, September 4, 2017. It is very hard for my husband to travel, and we have our two sweet kitties that don’t like traveling. After days of researching the spaghetti maps and listening to all of the information available, my family and I decided to stay and ride out the storm, as our area was not evacuated. For the preparation, we did have some plywood for the windows leftover from Matthew, but we didn’t board up all of the windows for that one. So, we headed to our local Lowe’s Home Improvement to get more. Of course, everyone else was doing the same thing. I think we made about four stops at Lowe’s between Monday and Sunday (day the hurricane hit). Since there was a shortage of big sheets of plywood, my husband read up and found that using 2 x 4s stacked on top of each other would work just as well. We loaded up our van – gotta give some love to our van that has taken a beating with so many building materials over the years – with 50 2 x 4s. I can’t believe they fit in!
Getting water was the main concern early on in the weekdays leading up to the weekend. We lucked out after making about 3 stops at local stores to find that Target had just gotten in a shipment. Also, we knew that everyone was getting as much gas as they could, and there was a shortage of that. We filled up our vehicle, and what we needed for our generator.
Surviving the storm
The one word that keeps coming to my mind about this hurricane is…survival. It was a week-long process of preparing. So many nervous moments and just sitting and waiting for her to come. Then, it hit and the eye of the storm ended up coming right through our area. Wow!! So crazy and intense. We lost power with about 5 minutes left of the worst of the storm hitting us. We had been tuning in to a few news channels while trying to stay calm during the brunt of the super strong winds and rain. We were pounded by the wind gusts up to approximately 100 mph, and it was very frightening! We were able to breathe a sigh of relief after it passed us. We still received strong gusts through the early morning hours making it hard to sleep, especially as it got really warm in the house with no power. We woke up the next morning feeling so blessed that we survived! We were all safe and sound, and that was the most important thing.
Assessing the damage
So, after walking outside and assessing the damage, we were so pleased that we didn’t have any. The new roof that we had put on last year held up beautifully. Looking back, I am so glad that we spent a little more to get the shingles that could withstand 145 mph winds! No windows were broken and everything seemed in good condition. Now, to pursue and hit head on the final part of the survival. Having no power with temperatures in the 90s was pretty tough. We monitored our cats constantly. We focused on staying hydrated and with my husband’s thoughts of ordering a power inverter prior to the storm, we were able to run a fan and power a light at night with the help of a boat motor. There was a curfew on getting out on the roads the next day, and we were not able to use our cell phones. We were so happy that we did have water and could use the bathrooms.
Power back on
On Wednesday, September 13th, we came back from leaving the house for a little bit to see that we had our power back. We had read earlier that it was likely it wouldn’t happen until Sunday. I was moved to tears as the neighbor that lives across from us pulled up to her house at the same time and jumped up and down telling everyone that the power was back on. She was so excited and also ran over to another neighbor to tell them. It was the most wonderful thing to hear! It felt like it was over. It was also really great getting to know our neighbors a little better through this experience. Everyone was helpful and invited us to their homes if we needed to, just as we did them. You really see how a community can pull together. I loved that safe feeling.
Appreciation for everything
It really does make you appreciate the little things in life. We found ways to keep our spirits up by playing board games and just sitting around and visiting with each other. These are the times that I will remember. Being with my two guys and our cats surviving and thriving is just a wonderful memory. Getting back to “normal” means back to watching TV, working on my computer and using our cell phones, being able to bake again and more. This storm will all seem like a distant memory soon, but as we now get back to our regular routines, I am thinking of how this has made our family bond even stronger. I have such an appreciation of the big and little things like a roof over our heads, food and water…and air conditioning!!! We lived on blueberry and strawberry Pop-Tarts and Gatorade for days (so glad we purchased them ahead of time), and having that first cup of coffee after 4 days of not having any, was amazing!
Thinking of all affected
Stay safe out there, everyone! I hope that all affected are getting back to their regular lives. If you are still trying to survive, stay strong and keep focusing on your health and safety!! I know that millions of people were out of power, and I truly feel for you and are thinking of you. Thanks for reading and God Bless YOU!
I wanted to add a little section here with items that I feel were essential to our survival of Hurricane Irma. So happy we had these things! They would be great to have on hand in preparation for any kind of natural disaster or prolonged power outage.
1. Safe-T-Proof Solar Hand-Crank Emergency Radio – this little beauty came in so handy! You can use it as a flashlight, to listen to the radio and more. It was a lifesaver!
2. Flashlights – we used a few battery powered flashlights to get around. With all of the windows boarded up, it was definitely very dark in the house.
3. Stanley Jump Starter – we used this to charge up our phones, and it had a light on it that was so helpful.
4. LifeStraw Water Filters – we didn’t end up needing this, but happy to know that we had it just in case!
5. Mountain House Classic Meal Assortment – thankfully, we didn’t have to open this container up and use any. We will be able to store it for many years to come. They figure it will be good for 30 years!
6. Bathtub Water Bladders
7. Generator – we had a small generator that would power things like lights, phones, fans, etc. Many others around us had bigger generators.
8. Camping Propane Stove
9. Waterproof Matches
10. Manual Can Opener
11. Bottled Water
12. Canned Goods/Packaged Foods – items like beans, fruit, etc. was so convenient to open and eat.
13. First Aid Kit