The emergency notification alarm screamed out from each of our cell phones. Tornadoes were nearby, get to your safe room. For me, that was the laundry room in my cousin’s house. A small but cozy inner room with no windows or outside walls. I set it up with a chair, Ripley’s blanket, water, my battery operated weather radio and lantern. throughout the 6 hours of relentless winds, tornado warnings kept sounding one after another. Local channels were pin pointing each radar blip throughout Palm Beach County, so it was easy to know when to emerge from or take shelter in the safe rooms.
My room was fairly quiet except for the whining of the wind creeping under the garage door and finding its way under the crack beneath the door separating the laundry room from the garage. Sometimes it sounded like a train whistle, which was confusing when listening for a tornado making it all the more scary.
Ripley was a trooper in his Emotional Support Vest. He was a Zen master, calm and comforting. I’d shuffle him in and out of our safe room as needed and he followed eagerly to be with me.
As soon as we lost power, I was hardly able to get text messages in or out. Throughout the whole event my dear friend, Johnette Downing, (a veteran hurricane survivor used to frequent New Orleans weather events, including Katrina), kept me updated with Irma’s directional shifts, wind speeds and gusts near my area. Her constant flow of information helped relieve the anxiety. Thanks Johnette.
The build up to Irma’s arrival in Palm Beach County, FL took a week and a half. The fickle path Irma would take left many making wrong choices of where and when to go. By the time slightly more concrete directional info was available, for many, it was already too late to get on the road, with traffic jams and gas shortages making it even more dangerous to leave. And so we stayed, knowing we were not in an evacuation zone.
Our little corner of the FL peninsular did pretty well. Lots of trees down, branches fallen on houses, electric power out and traffic lights not working. Intersection crossings were, let us say, challenging. But for the most part we were extremely lucky. I am so grateful.
Those along the path that were not so fortunate are dealing with loss of everything. The Islands, the Keys and even parts of northern FL on up through GA and the Carolina’s all were hit much harder.
Please find a reputable donation source and give whatever you can to help. Do whatever is possible to lend a hand. Recovery for some will take months if not years.
Thanks to all who sent emails and Facebook supportive posts.
If you were in Irma’s or Harvey’s path, I wish you speedy recovery back to your life as you knew it. You are in my heart and prayers.
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