Getting Stalked by a Turtle

I just read someone’s Facebook Post: 

“In true Floridian fashion, today is the day we acknowledge this hurricane is actually happening.” 

Yup. Big sigh.    

There have been five major hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jean, Irma, and Ian) that have directly impacted where we live in Florida in the last 20 years.  All of these have been BAD, but thankfully the worst that has ever happened to us is that we lost power.  And losing power (aka AC) in the middle of hot, humid Florida is NOT fun.  For the first three we were without power for almost 2 weeks.  

I have made a list of some basic hurricane observations: 

  • The most anxiety-inducing element about hurricanes is that you know it’s coming, there is nothing you can do to change it and you just sit there and watch and hope it changes tracks.
  • It is common Florida knowledge that you only really start to worry when you are dealing with a level 3 or higher.  Levels 1 or 2 are excuses to cancel school and enjoy some time off.  
  • Sure, having water and non-perishable food items is important, but any Floridian will tell you that the most important thing is to have plenty of alcohol.  There is as much of a run on beer and liquor as there is on gas and plywood.    
  • My students and their families all primarily live in Arizona.  I emailed them yesterday letting them know I will probably be out of commission for the rest of this week.  They were very sweet and supportive, but it struck me that if you have never lived through a hurricane, you have nothing to compare it to.  One of the parents, very sweetly, said that they hoped it would dissipate and wouldn’t affect us. Gently, I explained that is not a thing, unfortunately hurricanes don’t work that way.  

Tracking this current hurricane, Ian, has given me more anxiety than ever before.  I’m not exactly sure why–Amanda and I were talking last night about it and maybe because it has been five years since the last one?  That is just enough time to forget how bad the previous hurricane was.  Our house was built over 100 years ago (and has survived many hurricanes), as the winds blew, we could feel the pressure build and release in the house.  It was almost as if the house was breathing.  I remember feeling nervous, but for whatever reason, I’m feeling more anxious than nervous about this storm.  And eventually, I will just be resigned.  

Waiting for a hurricane really is like watching a murder-turtle choose which way it will go, waiting as it slowly make its way, and then suddenly change its mind.  We have been tracking Ian since last week–watching it very closely since Sunday.  It has changed tracks multiple times–and the latest track has it coming ashore further south than anticipated and then moving up and across the state.  You frantically check the National Hurricane Centers updates at 5 am, 11 am, 5pm and 11pm.  You go back and forth between the NHC model to the Euro model to the GFS model and attempt to divine where it is going to actually make landfall.  You stalk Denis Phillips, the only meteorologist worth following, and keep repeating his mantra “Rule #7” (Don’t freak out unless I tell you to freak out).  You clean up your yard and make sure you have food that doesn’t require refrigeration or heating up (ie junk food and snacks).  You obsessively watch the Weather Channel and hope that Jim Cantore does show up anywhere near you (he is currently in Tampa).  You try to somehow do something with the giant ball of nervous energy building up in you.  

And then it hits and there is nothing you can do.  

Except drink.  

It is 10am in the morning–I’m thinking about breaking into our alcohol stash early.  

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