Lessons From Another Hurricane

Less than one year ago I posted a piece titled “Lessons From A Hurricane”.  That post was written right after Hurricane Matthew passed by my area in Florida.

Now today 50 weeks later I am writing another piece about lessons I’ve learned from another hurricane, Hurricane Irma.

After being told numerous times by numerous residents that my location will rarely take a direct hit from a hurricane, here I was again looking at the possibility of staring down the eye of a major storm.

This time we were much better prepared. The previous hurricane, Matthew in 2016, arrived less than a month after moving into our new home in Florida.  But for Irma we had plans in place and were ready to go well before the storm was projected to hit.  This storm had the whole state in its possible path so we had to really search for a hotel room for evacuation.  After two days of searching and calling we found one ten hours away in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

We decided to leave two days prior to the storm.  We got up at 2:00 AM to be packed and out the door by 3:00 AM.  Once again we left our house not knowing what we would return to.  At the time of our departure the eye was still being forecast to come up the east coast of Florida, right over our house, again.  We departed at 3:00 AM on what was supposed to be a ten hour trip under normal circumstance.

About one hour into our trip we realized it was going to take a lot longer than the normal ten hours to reach our destination.  The major route out of Florida was bumper to bumper at 4:00 AM with an average speed of 20 miles per hour.

Ten hours turned into sixteen hours, but we were prepared.  The car had a full tank of gas and we packed a cooler full of water and sandwiches.  We brought along plenty of snacks.

As we sat in the car stopped or inching along I learned my first lesson from this hurricane.

In the event of a nuclear attack on Florida, I might as well just go to the beach and hang out with my wife.  I’d much rather go that way then be stuck in a car surrounded by a bunch of impatient fools risking their life and mine in order to get one car length ahead, cutting off cars as they weave in and out of lanes.  Some of them were even driving up the shoulder and the median strip and what certainly wasn’t a safe rate of speed.  And they were doing all this with fifteen gallons of gasoline strapped to the roof of their vehicle.

The interstate highways can barely handle the normal day to day volume of traffic.  They certainly can’t handle a partial evacuation of the population, so a mass evacuation would be pure chaos and mayhem.

If they ever give the warning that a warhead is on the way, I’m going to sit back with the one I love and prepare to meet my maker, because trying to escape in that mess would be hell before you even get there.

The next lesson, or maybe it’s more of an observation, happened as we spent our evacuation time in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

The first full day we were there, my wife and I decided to check out the town.  Shelbyville is a small town with a total population of around 21,000.

The night before, when we arrived in the town after our sixteen hour journey, we were too tired to do much more than find a place close to the hotel to get a hot meal and then go to bed.  On our short trip to the restaurant we saw a couple of thrift stores and consignment shops.  We decided to get up the next day and check them out and visit the historic downtown area of town with its shops and cafes.

On our way to the thrift shops we saw signs for yard sales, so we checked them out.

In the beach community where we live they have yard sales just like anywhere else, but ninety nine percent of the time the household is comprised of someone who lived in the area for a while and now they are moving elsewhere or it is an estate sale of someone who retired to the area and has passed on.

In Shelbyville, the yard sale household had mom, dad, the kids, grandma or grandpa or uncles or cousins, etc., participating or helping out.  They weren’t passing on or moving they were just making room for more stuff.

What I realized is how different the roots where in Shelbyville when compared to the where we live.

The roots ran big and deep in Shelbyville, much like and big oak tree.  There are many runners branching off but the tree has some big, thick, deep roots.OakTreeRoots

In a beach community like ours, the roots are like a palm tree.  There are a large number of root branches, but they are all thin and spread out.rootspalm

You don’t come across many multi-generational households where we live.  Most households are one generation coming here to retire.  The kids and the rest of the family, the big thick deep roots are somewhere else.

I’m not saying if that is good or bad, it’s just how it is.  Going to a small town in Tennessee put it right in front of my face.

Well I hope these are some of the last lessons I learn from a hurricane, at least for a couple of years.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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