Lessons From Another Hurricane

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.

Riding The Train

Riding The Train

This is a follow up piece to Melancholy Goodbye.  I wrote this the day I boarded the auto train with my pickup truck loaded with all my music and recording equipment and a few delicate items that I didn’t want to chance shipping in the moving container.

The day I have thought about for over three months is finally here.  It came three days later than expected but it is here.

I haven’t written in over a week due to the closing of the house sale and getting everything packed, moved or tossed prior to the sale.

I was supposed to leave on a Thursday via the auto train but due to a tropical storm/hurricane deciding to move across northern Florida and then up the east coast, my train ride was postponed not once but twice. But finally here I sit in the train station with two hours to kill. Continue reading

Your Last Perspective

Your Last Perspective

A few months before we made our move to Florida I spent a couple of days in our new home cleaning and getting ready for the big move.

One of the things I did while I was in Florida was I got together with my friend who was a band mate and mentor in my younger days.  We were looking to put a band together once my wife and I made the move.

We went to see two other musicians who perform as a duo and sometimes as a trio with my friend.  The four of us were thinking about becoming a band.

My friend had been telling me all about these two performers and how much he liked their musical skills and style.  He told me their age.  One was a year older and one was a year younger than me.

So on the second night of this trip my friend and I drove about forty five minutes to see this duo play. Continue reading

Lessons From A Hurricane

Lessons From A Hurricane

What a week it has been.  It is one that I will never forget, nor should I forget.

At the age of 59 years I experienced something I have never experienced before and hope I never experience again.

I have learned valuable lessons, lessons I must never forget.

Last Tuesday was my birthday and on that day the weather forecast became very dim.  On that day Hurricane Matthew was forecast to strengthen to a category 4 storm and head my way.

My wife and I live on the central east coast of Florida and the consensus was that this powerful storm was going to track right up the coast.

A part of me was attributing these forecasts to the weather hype machine and my assumption was we’d get up the next day and the forecast would finally show the storm drifting harmlessly out to sea.  But the next day was worse. Continue reading

The Weather Hype Machine

The Weather Hype Machine

I’ve written before about how social media and the internet has managed to trivialize words and ideas.

Well this past spring my wife and I purchased a home in warm sunny Florida.

We couldn’t move down there right away.  We had twenty five years worth of stuff in our northern home and it sold quicker then anticipated.  But still we had to wait a couple of months to get everything done and be ready to move.

We bought in March and moved in September which meant I was stuck up north while it was hurricane season down south.

I’m a worrier so you can only imagine my concern with the weather and a house I can’t see.

Of course I checked the weather websites every day to see what’s going on. Continue reading

Out Of My Comfort Zone

Out Of My Comfort Zone

I’ve been kind of stifled on what to write.  I’ve missed a couple of days and I want to make sure I don’t lose my writing habit.  So today’s piece may never become a post but at least I did some writing.

I am moving to Florida.

Moving south to warmer climates has always been a dream of my wife and myself for a number of years and now we own a home within walking distance of the beach in a location where the water never freezes and the snow never flies.

We own a home that is less than two blocks from one of my best friends.  I am very excited about being able to work with him after being apart for over twenty five years. Continue reading

Best Of Both Worlds

Best Of Both Worlds

Not sure where this post is going to go but this is something I wanted to write about.

My wife and I took yet another large step towards making a huge change in our lives.

After living in our house for the last twenty five years, raising two kids, having two family dogs and watching our grandson grow from a newborn to a tween, we signed an agreement to sell the house.

Two months prior we closed on a home in Florida and our intentions were to move there as soon as possible.  It’s tough enough keeping one house much less two.

At the time I thought our house would take months to sell and was even concern it could run into a year or longer.

Well I guess we are out of the 2008 housing market recession because we had the home sold or at least under agreement before it even hit the market. Continue reading