Written yesterday, after the storm had passed.
Storms concern me more than they do most people because most people have never seen the aftermath of a major hurricane. It’s like telling people what it’s like to be in a house fire, because once you’ve been through one you’re pretty much done with wanting to do it ever again, and you didn’t want to do it the first time. The same can be said for snakebite, which I haven’t done and don’t want to because I have seen it, and divorce, which I have done before and I’m looking never to do that again. Both divorce and snakebite are avoidable as long as you don’t put yourself in a position to get bitten by a snake, or married.
We are still without power, but due to the magic of a laptop and a hotspot, I can still write and keep up with the tail end of Irma, who is fleeing to the north even as I write these words. It’s over. The worst has come and the worst is gone, and there is nothing damaged that money cannot replace. I haven’t made it home yet but nothing that could have happened there scares me, but losing the big Oak Tree.
I haven’t had a shower since yesterday, at lunch or so, maybe later, and I feel more than a little grimy, but I really don’t care. If I have to wait to hit the YMCA tomorrow morning to take a shower, I’m totally down with that. It’s not what’s still bad that matters, no, what matters is that it no longer is going to get worse. We spend most of yesterday waiting for things to get worse and they very slowly did. It was like watching a giant turtle crawl towards your home knowing that it would crush you when it got there.
There’s been enough bad weather that I have a feeling for a forecast, and by that I mean if it’s going to be as bad as they say or if it isn’t going to be as bad as they say. When Irma went down to a CAT Two in Fort Myers I knew damn well she wasn’t going to be a CAT One here, or even a strong tropical storm. She was booking, galloping northward, over the middle of Florida, and shedding strength like a dog losing hair in the bathtub. Katrina hit moving at six miles an hour. Irma was throwing down at seventeen miles an hour. A storm moving that fast isn’t going to get a chance to pound anyone if it’s just a tropical storm. The forecast at four this morning was for us to get seventy-five mile an hour winds at two in the afternoon. It didn’t feel like it to me. As fast as it was fading and as fast as it was moving, I just couldn’t see it happening.
There’s no wisdom in betting against any forecast, but the people who are calling the shots for storms know damn well they have to give people the worst possible scenario. That sells more commercials, surely, but at the same time the people who do weather cannot tell people like me it’s over when there’s a chance, however slight, that Irma might come to South Georgia and throw down at seventy-five miles an hour. That’s serious when you live in the woods. That’s scary.
The people who know how to get ready, mentally, for the kind of disaster Katrina was, looked at this as something that might have been worse. Thousands of people fled before this storm and I-75 was clogged going northwards for three days. There were many, many, people who learned a lesson from watching those poor souls trapped in New Orleans. It was not so much an evacuation as an Exodus. Those who asked me all received the same advice, “Get out.”
But the appointed and anointed hour came and it went. The wind picked up, the rain fell hard, but it never did seem to reach the point we were afraid. A tree came crashing down, but that wasn’t a big deal. We heard sirens in the distance one, but so what? The power went off and stayed off, but again, not exactly the end of the world, until, of course, my phone dies and then I’m calling FEMA.
The power has been off for about twelve hours now. I do not give a damn what I lose in my freezer. It’s just stuff. It’s a shame to lose food, certainly, but there will be more. It’s like the stuff I lost in the house fire. It’s like the stuff I lost in the divorce. It’s like the time you lose recovering from being bitten by a venomous snake; so what? You are still alive.
I’m pretty sure by this time tomorrow I’m going to be annoyed beyond reckoning if I still have no electrical power in my home. But it’s not going to bother me like it will some people because I saw Katrina’s wrath and I saw people homeless with nothing left and I saw people whose lives were forever changed by one storm. I’ve walked away from another one, and if in the beginning, if some magic entity would have said, “You have to live without power for a week, but you and all your loved ones will be spared” I would have jumped at that. Well, now I have it.
I’m happy and I am grateful. I’ll stay this way if I can.
There are people under the same roof as I right now that do not have a home to go back to now. They have to find a place to life. They’ve lost everything, they assume, but they got out of the way, they got out in time, and they went somewhere it never got any worse than what I’ve related to you.
If you’ve walked away from this event and all you have is some food gone bad then you’ve won the lottery in a big way.
I recommend celebration and quiet reflection.