Irma reminded me to keep perspective




Irma and Harvey both affected us

Irma and Harvey are two hurricanes that most of the world won’t forget.  Harvey wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast (Eastern part) of Texas, and Irma soon followed.

Hurricane Irma's track
Hurricane Irma’s track kept changing before it turned North up the West Coast of Florida – Picture used from Google Images Labeled For Reuse

Irma’s path

Irma’s path – however – kept changing.  One minute it grew into the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 5 with 185 m.p.h. winds.  The next,  it was a Category 4 heading toward the East Coast.

But, of course, we all know it moved West. Then, it moved North up the Gulf Coast (Western part) of Florida.  It then terrorized Naples, Tampa and several cities on the West Coast of Florida.

Florida’s building codes helped

Thankfully, the state’s strict building codes kept many houses intact even though the Florida Keys tell a different story.  Still, when compared to Hurricane Andrew’s devastation in 1992, this storm’s damage was not as bad.

South Carolina’s response

When word got out that Irma headed North, residents of South Carolina panicked.  While Matthew became a Category 5 hurricane, neither storm affected the Upstate as much as the Low Country.

In addition, Irma was much bigger.  So, people in the Upstate got nervous.  In fact, this writer heard of a resident who bought two generators in Anderson.

But, here’s the difference…

Image of Hurricane Andrew to Florida
Hurricane Andrew terrorized Florida in 1992 – Picture used from Google Images Labeled For Reuse

Florida dealt with this before

People in Florida have dealt with several hurricanes in the past, so they knew what to do.  In fact, they never worry unless the storm reaches Category 3 status with winds of 111 m.p.h. sustained winds.  So, they were prepared because they learned their lesson from Andrew 25 years ago.  But, as CNN tells us, Gov. Rick Scott urged everyone to leave.

South Carolina’s Upstate hardly had the experience

However, the Upstate of South Carolina hardly dealt with that before.  Residents worried right away even though Irma only brought 40 m.p.h. sustained winds and 60 m.p.h. gusts.  To locals, that sounds high.

I knew what to expect

However, after living in Florida for several years – specifically Miami and Fort Lauderdale – I knew what to expect from Irma.  I predicted trees falling and power outage.

But, I also knew that Florida’s power would be out much longer.  Indeed, after hearing and seeing reports, I now know that some Florida cities won’t have power for at least one week – maybe even 10 days.

Since the storm wasn’t as bad in the Upstate, I knew that the power loss wouldn’t be as long.  As of now, some still don’t have power in the Upstate.  In fact, some parts of Anderson won’t have it for three days.

Time makes all the difference

There’s the difference.  Ten days is much longer than three – especially when you don’t have power.

So, in the grand scheme of things, my previous experience with hurricanes prepared me for the worst.  I talked with several Floridian friends, and they are safe.

But, as Irma headed north, I knew that the Upstate of South Carolina would suffer less damage.  Of course, the state suffered.  Irma flooded roads and knocked down trees.  But, that – ladies and gentleman – was the main issue.  Upstate’s weather was better than Florida’s.

Irma affected every place

Allow me to speak on the death count.  To date, there are over 40 reported deaths including four in South Carolina (for various reasons).  That should never be discounted.

To be sure, Irma damaged several areas of the United States.  But, let’s not forget the damage it left behind in Cuba and The Caribbean Islands.  It also leveled Barbuda destroying 95 percent of it.

The Lesson: Be prepared!

But, the lesson I hope many people learned is something that my friends in Florida already knew.  Be prepared – but stay calm.

Not only is it important to know what supplies to get.  As a good friend reminded me – and as I reminded others – “don’t panic!”  This storm was going to do what it wanted no matter what we said or did.  So, the only thing we could do was get the necessary supplies, “hunker down”, and watch the updates.

I don’t know who watched the updates and who didn’t.  But, just from looking at social media posts, I have an idea of who knew what was coming, and who didn’t.

Hurricanes Harvey Irma, Irma and Jose have all been a threat
Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas and Irma hit the East Coast. Will Jose hit us too? – Picture used from Google Images Labeled For Reuse

Let’s face it.  The Hurricane Season can be a royal pain in the neck.  But, knowing is half the battle.  If we fnow what’s coming, we know how to prepare for it.  All we have to do is stay calm and stay informed.

After all, we may deal with Hurricane Jose.  While it’s track may push it out to the Atlantic Ocean, we should prepare.

Let what we learned from Irma be a lesson for all of us.  Will we prepare calmly or panic and fall apart?  The choice is ours.

(Feature Image used from Google Images Labeled For Reuse)



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