Ever Been Through a Hurricane?
I’ve lived in Florida for about eighteen years now. During that time, I’ve experience many storms, and come close to being in the direct path of a major storm more than once. Hurricane Irma, which ravished Florida September 10th and 11th, 2017, was the first major storm to hit our Tampa Bay area directly since I’ve been here. Living through this experience I’ve learned 7 very important lessons that I think are worth sharing with those who live in and outside of our amazing state.
Florida construction is phenomenal. From the authorities who pass down the building codes that regulate how homes and buildings are built, to the construction companies that build them, praise should be extended. Being in a home with 100 mph wind gusts blowing by was surreal. But as loud the winds pounding our home were, I had the feeling of security. You could just feel that the home was built to withstand it, and it held up well.
Even as I drove through the area the day after the storm, surprisingly I saw no real damage to buildings or homes. There were lots of trees down and fences blown over, and there was debris on the streets. But I didn’t see major damage of any sort to buildings and homes. There were no missing roofs, or shattered windows I could see, only damage to mobile homes and residences right on the coast for the most part. This is all thanks to construction codes down here, and the companies that honor them. Thanks to you all!
Florida officials have their act together. From our Governor, Senators, and meteorologists, to others who run our emergency services, they all deserve applause. They were very open about risks, properly advising everyone of what to do, and handling it all with grace while keeping people calm.
The actions they took, the briefings they gave, and the help they gave was instrumental to our survival and well-being. They worked long hours, you could see it on their faces. And this kept them from their families, while they were focusing on keeping mine safe. I’d like to extend a special thank you to all of them for their commitment.
Be prepared. We had plenty of water, food, and even ice in case the power went out. We had flashlights, candles, and a safe place in the house to be when things got bad. For the most part, we were prepared. But there’s an even deeper level of preparedness we still could’ve had. With major storms, there are three main concerns: wind, flooding, and loss of power. In the future, building a home with a safe room made of steel and concrete makes sense.
Buying hurricane windows or shutters, and building away from flood zones and on a higher elevation also make sense. So does having a generator or two. If we took these steps years ago, we would’ve only had mild concerns as the storm rolled in.
First responders are heroes. The day after the storm, I was on the streets. There weren’t many out. This was because the curfew had just been lifted. But everywhere you looked you could see firefighters, police officers, and other first responders out there taking care of business. They were helping others, cleaning the streets from fallen trees for safe passage, and dealing with downed power lines.
And they were there helping keep people safe, and helping the state recover. First responders put themselves in harm’s way for Florida citizens, while their families were left without them during a truly scary time. Until this storm, I don’t think I truly appreciate the work that these fine people do, and the sacrifices their families make for all of us. Now I do, and I thank them for their service.
Negative storm surge exists, and it’s awesome! One of our biggest fears here in Tampa was storm surge. This is where we have giant waves roll in which cause massive damage and flooding. As big a fear as this was; what really ended up happening was shocking. Instead of high waves and surge rolling in, the winds helped push the water in our bay further out to sea.
The end result was that areas of our bay that were typically covered by water weren’t. People were able to walk out into our bay where water once was, and where water quickly returned the following day. I may never forget the pictures I’ve seen of people walking across our bay, it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve seen from the storm.
I prefer hurricanes versus tornadoes. I grew up in the Midwest, where tornadoes were one of the worst natural disaster threats we faced. Tornadoes are nasty, destroying everything in their path. There’s little warning they’re coming. And they can strike anywhere. A hurricane, in comparison, will strike coastal areas. And there’s typically one week or more notice that they’re coming.
As big as Irma was, covering the entire state of Florida, the major damage was near the eye wall. The rest of the storm just pounded us with minor wind and rain. It wasn’t pleasant being near the eye wall, but still nothing like the upwind destruction I’ve seen tornadoes bring. Both types of storms are destructive. But if given a choice, I’d choose to be in a path of a hurricane over a tornado any day.
Our country is awesome! Through this experience, I saw so many people helping others. I’ve seen people give others generators because they needed it more, people offering supplies and help to neighbors in need, and communities pull together to support each other. People started hashtags offering strangers a place to stay, stars hosted concerts for relief funding, and so many others offered to help Floridians in so many ways. When tragedy hits our country in any way, we pull together. It makes me so honored to live in such an America.
In summary, I LOVE where I live! Every day I wake up and take our dogs for a walk and I reflect of how appreciative I am to live in a state I love as much as Florida. Our weather is beautiful year-round. We have beaches, theme parks, and so many other fun things to do. This is a melting pot of people from all over the world, and it’s amazing to get to meet so many different types of people from so many different cultures.
I live in paradise, and our children have an opportunity to experience so much we’re thankful for. Yes, living here we face risks from storms like Hurricane Irma. But, the trade-off of living in such an amazing place is well worth it!
I’d like to extend a special thanks to all my family, friends, and others who reached out with well wishes and prayers, for myself, my family, and our Credit Suite team. It means more than you’ll ever know.
But before you go…