As I sit and breathe the smoke-filled air from all the wildfires out here in the West, my heart is actually in Florida. Hurricane Irma is churning toward my home state, and it is worrying me to no end.
With hurricanes, you get some warning, and that can be both a blessing and curse. A blessing because you have some time to prepare, to get supplies, to gas up your car, to evacuate. A curse because the storms’ paths are not 100% predictable and oftentimes, people agonize about staying and “riding it out” or evacuating.
I am watching friends and family do this very thing. Many of them are leaving. Many are staying put. All of them have prepared the best they can. My elderly parents, as of this afternoon, are planning on boarding up their windows tomorrow and riding it out at home. To be clear, as of right this second, they are not in this monster storm’s direct path, but the fact that they’re choosing to do this scares me to death. My brother is there to help them, thankfully. I wish all of them had left a few days ago. I understand that they’re loath to get in a car with a few belongings and set off down the highway with the rest of the state, but I still wish they had.
This is the most helpless feeling.
While I do not want to be in the storm’s path, and I am most grateful that my children and I sit safely at home 3,000 miles away, I do wish I were there to help my extended family prepare and ensure their safety in person.
Hurricanes are a fact of life when you’re a Floridian, and we make a lot of jokes about them, and throw hurricane parties, and try to laugh them off. But every now and then, we get a big one like Irma that freaks everyone the hell out.
Florida (and coastal Georgia) friends, I see you struggling with these decisions. I also see people who don’t have to make these decisions judging them. I am so sorry you’re in this predicament, and I know that the choices you make for yourselves and your loved ones will bring you safely to the other side of this ordeal. Please know there are so many watching things unfold who will be here for you on the other side as well.
We’ve got your back.