For me, and many others, this weekend will mark two separate anniversaries.
I had been through many hurricanes in my life. But Hurricane Irma on September 10, 2017 would be the first one that I would go through with a direct hit. The path of the coming storm remained uncertain until just days before it hit, making evacuation impossible with no idea where to travel to, at least by car, and airports were not an option.
The preparations were made as far as securing shutters, buying supplies. As a state of emergency had been declared, there was an ominous feeling driving through the area, pretty much a “ghost town.” The panic lines for gas and water were gone. Most businesses were all boarded up.
As I said, I had been through hurricanes before, and seen the aftermath of flooding and wind damage. Nothing compared to my experience with Irma. After surviving the eye passing right over me, that is when the learning from the experience would begin.
It was the day after, and the next several days, that I would discover good and bad in people, those willing to help one another, and those just flat out selfish, even in a time of crisis, only out for themselves. I can completely empathize with those who have just dealt with Ida in both the south and northeast. Long gas lines, perhaps waiting as long as ten hours for their turn, idling out what little they had left in their tank, only to be turned away as the station ran out. Staples such as bread, water, and ice in short supply, gone as soon as the shelves restocked. Frustrating to say the least. But having dealt with other major crisis, I have always looked ahead, that things will get better.
But other people do not share the outlook on life that I do. And it did not take long to see this behavior. With Ida, it was no different. It takes time to recover from things, but you need to follow the recommendations and orders being given. Too many were just too impatient, and it showed.
Fortunately, damage here was minimal, infrastructure was back up for the most part within a week. Clean up and repairs took much longer. Heck, grocery stores took forever to get shelves restocked, again, because as soon as inventory came in, it was gone.
Those who did evacuate, were recommended not to return for several weeks. There was nothing to return to. Sure, their homes were likely safe, but supply was at a minimum. And with our tourist season approaching, “snowbirds,” that really was the last thing we needed, more people. For those that did not listen, especially the snowbirds, I found my patience tested, hearing the complaints that the area had not been cleaned up and restored yet, just a few short weeks following the storm.
We were lucky during and after that storm. At least I recognize that.