Ahh you probably thought I was talking about a training plan. But nope I’m talking about the hurricane plan.
I have lived in Miami for over 20 years. I moved here in 1996 which was a few years after Hurricane Andrew. Planning for hurricanes is a part of living in Miami. I always have water, batteries and non-perishable food. My plan has always been Category 3 and above leave town.
It’s worth noting that this is the first time in over 20 years that I’ve ever needed to implement this plan. I waffled a bit – oh it will probably drift off to sea. But my husband lived in Miami during Andrew. He was actually on vacation during the actual storm. Still he didn’t waffle at all. He got up at 4:00 am and we prepped the house packed up the kids and one guinea pig and headed inland and North. Plans only work if you follow them. There is always the possibility that the plan is not a good plan but it’s hard to know that until afterwards.
Running is a luxury
Again maybe you thought I was talking about exercise. And it’s true there too. I’m actually talking about running from the storm. In order to be able to get out in front of a storm a lot of things have to be possible. First you need to be able to afford to leave. You may need to be able to work remotely. You need to have enough time and resources.
So, I am very lucky. I can afford to leave. I can work remotely and so can my husband.
It’s also worth noting that most people won’t evacuate for a lot of reasons.
First, it’s impossible. It is literally impossible for all the residents to leave by plane or car. Also some people cannot leave. They may have jobs that require them to stay, they may have animals that prevent them from leaving (livestock or several pets that prevent travel). They may need to stay to take care of a relative who is unable to travel.
Next, it’s a choice. Evacuating even during a mandatory evacuation order is a choice. Some people will choose to stay. They may prefer the option to be present during and immediately after the storm to secure their home. It was harder than I thought to leave the house. I took photos of the outside and all the inside rooms. I bagged up my photo albums in ziplock bags with a quick prayer that they will be salvageable when I return. I understand why people stay to try and be present in their home. It’s home. Also evacuating has been stressful. It’s hard to explain but there are many rumors flying around about there being no gas left. And the idea of being stuck in my car away from home with no gas is anxiety inducing.
Last night we drove up and the whole way up there were rumors that there was no gas to be purchased in Orlando either. We drove by one gas station taped off which means they are out of fuel. We then drove by several that seemed empty maybe a car or two. My husband said, I think they are parked their for when they open tomorrow. We were so firmly in the mindset that the gas was all gone we didn’t even consider otherwise. We kept driving. My husband asks me does it look like they are pumping gas? I answer, I can’t tell. The next one had no tape and a few cars at the pumps. We pull in. The lights are on. There are no bags on the handles. He puts in his credit card and starts the pump and he says, it’s working. Then we laughed at ourselves.
But here’s another interesting thing. I know several people who lived in Miami during Hurricane Andrew. And evacuating before Andrew wasn’t an option because the storm was not forecasted to hit Miami. The people who I know who were in Miami during Andrew have almost all evacuated. In fact they were the first to get out of town. Those who are staying have reasons and they know what they are in for.
The waiting is the hardest part
I think that’s a line from a rock song by Heart maybe? There is a ton of uncertainty in this process. As I sit here 200 miles from my home the storm is still days off the coast of Miami. The forecast is updated every 3 hours roughly but the storm only moves 17 miles an hour so each update brings very little news.
The biggest storm I’ve personally been through was Wilma. It was a category 2 and barely a 2. It ripped off enough of my roof that I needed to have it replaced and knocked down my fence. It took 18 months to repair that. But the biggest inconvenience was being without power. After that storm I was without power for 15 days. I stayed after that storm for I think 3-4 days until I ran out of food and water. It was about 90 degrees and miserable. My batteries went dead and I almost set my house on fire using a lantern. So the reason to leave for me is primarily quality of life. That may sound spoiled and that’s fine. I said at the top it’s a luxury to be able to leave and I totally mean that. If you don’t need to stay and you can get out, then why not go?
The second reason is more psychological. The people who I know who lived through Andrew were legitimately emotionally traumatized by the experience. These people all lost almost everything. Entire homes. I’m not trying to be dramatic it was terrifying for them. I’ve heard their survivor stories so many times that I could tell them myself. If I can avoid that and avoid having my children go through that I will be happy. That’s why I left. Again, I understand that it’s a luxury to be able to do so.
This storm is still hundreds of miles away churning in the Atlantic Ocean. It very well may drift into the deep Atlantic and I will head home with no storm ever touching shore. I will be very okay with that.
The last thing I’ll say is this. There is no city in the country more ready for a Hurricane than Miami. I left for the reasons I gave above. But I believe that those who have stayed will be fine. Perhaps massively inconvenienced but they will be okay. This is an event that the planners in Miami-Dade and Broward have planned for decades. Now all that’s left to do is follow the plan.