When I moved to Florida over 5 years ago, I took my fair share of jabs about the state. Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with moving to Florida, but, crikey, the things you do for the love of your life and his admission into med school. As much as we loved Michigan (where we’re originally from), we both knew we didn’t want to live there forever. But, Florida? I mean, c’mon!
Cut to 5 years later and not only did I wave goodbye to my husband when he finished med school and started his ER residency back in Michigan, but I fell in love with my little southeast corner of the state shaped like unexcited male naughty bits.
For me, South Florida became the epicenter of culture, arts, languages, travel, tourism and a politically vital environment. I’ve met so many wonderfully dynamic people here. Not to mention the year-round sunshine, beaches and palm trees that greet me daily.
Unfortunately, Florida is now the epicenter of Hurricane Irma.
I flew back to Florida from visiting my husband in Michigan for the Labor Day weekend. This was on Tuesday, September 5th. When I got back I ran some hurricane errands, and topped off my tank. By Wednesday, there were hour-long lines in the same station I went to just 12 hours before. Not to mention nearly half of the stations I passed on the way to work were out of gas. My husband texted me to tell me there was cheap flight on JetBlue I could snag, but I didn’t think I’d need to leave. I mean, really? We’ve been through these before.
But something was different with Irma. It’s hard to put your finger on. But even residents who had been through Hurricane Andrew were more worried than usual. It was an eerie feeling.
Quickly flights were beginning to sell out and increase dramatically in price. I called Delta, got an overpriced ticket for that night since the rest were sold out for the rest of the week (at that point).
On Wednesday, September 6, in a matter of 3 hours I needed to pack up what I could into 2 suitcases and prep my condo for a Cat 5 hurricane. I thankfully had a dear friend come over and help me tape windows (an exercise in futility, really), move furniture to the center of my condo, and throw items that I deemed “worth saving” into the bathroom and bathtub. I took pictures, a video and sighed as I locked my door for what may be the very last time.
By the time I got to the airport, I knew I would start questioning everything I did. What I chose to bring, what I chose to leave, what I thought would survive…
It’s a gut-wrenching feeling.
Now I’m watching it all happen from 1400 miles away in Michigan and I can’t even begin to describe the stomach churning helplessness I feel.
Helplessness for friends, loved ones, co-workers, family members and the men and women who have to work through this Cat 5 chaos.
Yesterday was one of the most surreal of my life. In a matter of hours, I had to pack up what I could and accept as I locked my home’s door that I may never see it again. Let me be clear – I’m lucky to get out. I could afford a plane ticket. I could actually get a plane ticket! I didn’t have enough gas to get out of Florida and when I left, there was a massive gas shortage. (Still is.) it was utter relief and complete sadness as I took off and looked below at my coastal home city. #hurricaneirma
I always tease my co-workers that I much prefer tornadoes I grew up with in Michigan to hurricanes and they think I’m insane. The funny thing is, if you haven’t been through either one, you think the other is worse. I’ve only been through “minor” hurricanes and I can tell you this beast, this bitch, Irma, is something else. She will span the entire state of Florida. It’s unprecedented.
Save your theories and opinions for another day, while people literally are evacuating or hunkering down for their lives right now. Keep your Florida jokes to yourself for the next 72 hours please. (And for the love of God, ask yourself if Florida is such a silly state, why so many people retire and vacation there? Hmmmm?)
These are my people. This is my state. This will be a life changing event for so many.
If you pray, send good vibes or shake your tail feather – do whatever you need to do right now to keep the people and state of Florida in your heart. I know I will be.