Sep06

Irma Talk About Hurricanes Now …

{Wearing: One-piece: Gooseberry Seaside So Chic Long Island. Sunnies: Shopblush.com. Photographed by Jorge Camaraza}

That’s me, riding alongside the black walls of  storms running me out of Bimini exactly 24 hours after I arrived. Those are the same storms created by Harvey. As in the Harvey that pillaged Texas. Back then it was just a tropical storm. A tropical storm that died and somehow came back to life … with a vengeance. A White Walker storm, if you will. Now here I am just weeks later looking at this thing called Irma headed straight for Florida.

And here’s what I have to say about that …

Well, we’ve pissed off Mother Nature. Oh, climate change isn’t real, they said. Global warming doesn’t exist, they said. And then they duct taped the mouths of organizations that monitor such things.

As they say, hell hath no fury like a mother scorned. So, here we are, watching her teach those who think she doesn’t exist a lesson. Like a tired, fed-up mom losing it on a rebellious teen who’s spent years pushing her buttons, Mother Nature has unleashed the kind of fury you’d best duck and cover to avoid. Imagine a maddened mom flailing her wild mom arm toward the back seat of the car to smack some sense into your obnoxious teenage ‘tude. Now imagine that as a category 5 hurricane. And that’s where we are at, people.

Sure, I’m from the Midwest, but having spent some formative years in the Florida Panhandle, I’m no stranger to hurricanes. That place is a lot like God’s bowling alley. Everyone has their hurricane story, it was there I acquired mine.

In 1995, Opal, the strongest storm to hit the Gulf Coast, wiped away Destin, Fort Walton Beach and a lot of other stuff near it with its category 4 winds. I almost didn’t graduate from high school because it wiped the roads away and we couldn’t get to school. Not great.

Under the leadership of my Midwestern mama, we waited until way too late to evacuate. In her defense, we didn’t know any better. We’re tornado people. Once on the road, it took us hours to go miles and in the end, we had to turn around and only made it to a shelter just as tornados were setting in. (The lesson there: leave sooner than too late.) The next day, as we resurfaced from the high school-turned-shelter, I saw devastation like I’d never seen. I lived with no water, no electricity and no plumbing for longer than I care to remember. The town had a curfew for a significant portion of time. Boats crashed into houses. Houses crashes into other houses. People were homeless. It was horrible.

So when I see those pics coming out of Texas, with flooding washing away people’s homes, well, it hits a little place inside of me that remembers. And when I see a storm the size of the entire state of Texas aimed right at the state I live in it freaks me the hell out. Fight or flight kicks in and I’m ready to run.

Does anyone remember last month when it rained too hard in Miami Beach and those pumps we’ve heard too much about and yet never seen work didn’t work again? Entire parking garages were under water. So anyone who thinks its best to stay here and ride this out, think again. Unless you’re into being air-lifted.

Maybe your home won’t get blown away. Maybe it will. Consider being trapped on your upper floor because there’s a moat surrounding your house. Consider a construction crane smacking your windows and knocking them out (because there’s plenty of those lying around and no one cleaning them up before this storm hits). Consider you won’t have power or ac while being trapped inside a building with boarded-up windows. Consider not having flushing toilets in the aftermath.

I assure you there will be enough hurricane parties on this mass exodus course to Orlando and then Atlanta most of us have planned to make it feel like you never left Miami.

So go.

Go.

Go.

Please take your dog.

Please take your cat.

Your turtle.

Bring your photo albums.

And stay safe.

And, oh yeah, water also comes out of the taps in your house. So fill stuff up and leave it in case you need it when you return.

Here’s a few other tips I’ve come across along the way:

1.) Go to the ATM now. They don’t work when there is no power and hurricanes tend to be a cash-only business.

2.) Stick a cup of frozen water with a quarter on top in your freezer. Here’s why.

3.) Put the things you love and can’t take with you in your dishwasher and lock it. It’s sealed so water won’t come in.

4.) Stock up on paper plates, plastic utensils and Solo cups. There may not be clean water to wash dishes upon your return.

5.) Do you laundry now, while you still can.

6.) Shower and wash your hair before the storm hits. You never know when you may get to take another hot shower — or shower in general. 

7.) And for the love of God, please don’t do ANY of these things.

8.) Oh and download Zello from the app store. It turns your phone into a walkie talkie and could help get you rescued should you find yourself stuck.

Now get out of here.