1. Adrenaline is no f*cking joke.
In the 3ish hours I had to pack up what I could into 2 pieces of luggage, storm prep my place and decide which things needed saving by throwing them in my insulated bathroom – I made decisions like a champ. There wasn’t any second guessing; there wasn’t time to think really. By the time I got to the airport at 4pm, I realized I hadn’t eaten since 7am. Normally, that would induce pure, unadulterated hangry pangs. With the adrenaline running through my veins, I didn’t even notice. I must say, though, that glass of Sauvignon Blanc in the Delta Sky Lounge was utter bliss.
2. Organization in everyday life is key.
There’s a place for everything in our home. Ask the hubster, if I can’t find something quickly, I get annoyed. In a time of emergency, I knew exactly where to go to grab our important files:
- Marriage license
- Birth certificates
- Property lease
So, make fun of me all you want, non-organized people, but I saved myself some precious time and, more importantly, my sanity when furiously grabbing important docs as I evacuated.
3. Getting out is relief and total sadness.
As those plane wheels kissed the last bit of Fort Lauderdale’s runway, and I looked down below at the serene setting of my coastal community, I felt sick. It’s hard to explain, really. I was finally on my way to safety as a (then) Cat 5 hurricane barreled towards my state. I didn’t know when I’d see my home again, and if I did, what sort of fractured state it would be in once I got back. More importantly, I knew so many people were trying to get out as I sat in my seat to safety in row 16. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling. It’s something I never, ever want to feel again. Guilt and utter sadness, wrapped in a blanket of relief.
4. You inherintely know what’s important in life.
In the fast and furious pace of tossing things into luggage or well-insulated bathrooms, my mind and body inherently knew what needed saving, and what didn’t. Most “things” are people and memories anyway, and those aren’t easily wrapped up safely and put in your bathroom. (Unless that’s your jam, and in that case, please stay far away from me.) If you listen to your intuition, it will gently guide you towards items of sentimental value or those that logistically need safe keeping. And yes, I grabbed my childhood blanket and stuffed animal (affectionately named, Bum) and tossed them into my carry-on. You know, in case my checked luggage got lost.
Judgement-free zone, friends!
5. You know who thinks you’re important in their life.
At one point during evacuating, I actually had to respond to many concerned texts by saying, “Please understand, I’ll text when I can.” Calls, direct messages, texts, emails and even a sweet mention from a friend’s kid concerned that I wouldn’t get out – they all meant the world to me during such chaos and quickly reminded me of who thought about me and who didn’t. Two friends traveling separately in Greece and the Czech Republic reached out asking me what was going on, wasting what I thought, were precious international texting fees. ;)
Some touching moments include: my 3-year-old niece sending me a video asking me if I was at the airport (airport = safety), my mother-in-law taking me for a pedicure when I felt less-than-human the day before Hurricane Irma hit and a long-time friend giving me a stuffed bear when I met her for dinner. Isn’t that how all bear hugs are given?!
Right now, from what we know, some water got into our place, but not much. We have older windows, that rattle anytime the wind picks up, so I’m sure as 100 mph winds blew through, they brought some rain in as well. We didn’t have power for 60+ hours, so all the hurricane goods I bought (that needed someone there to pull out of the fridge and into a cooler if we lost power), are goners. I’m literally on a flight back down to Fort Lauderdale now, with my sleeping ER doc hubster next to me. This guy worked until 7am, and is flying down to help me clean up. All-star.
I still fared so much better than so many other people. The Keys were decimated, and so many Caribbean islands may never, ever be the same again. I liken it to third-world conditions; where the need for food, clean water and vaccinations are high and the supplies are frighteningly low.
Thank you for all the concerned messages, I will be fine. Please keep others who were not so fortunate at the top of your mind if and when you donate to organizations. As a reminder, local organizations are best. They very often provide direct relief.