Hurricane Days Are Not Snow Days
“So, you got to go on vacation? That must be nice!”
Leaving your home, your belongings, your life- and not knowing what will be there when you return is not “getting away.” Staying calm and trying not to completely freak out your kids while being stressed and worried about the unknown is not “just vacation planning.” Hurricane evacuations are not the equivalent of snow days, contrary to how it is suggested by some people who have never been through an evacuation.
Hurricanes are a part of life in Florida. We are taught how to prepare from the time we are little. Water, non-perishable food items, batteries, and flashlights are essentials. Board games, cards, books, crayons, and paper are on the list of things to have handy as well. I’m from North Florida, and we typically don’t get it as bad as other parts of the state such as South Florida and the West Coast of Florida, however, we still have to be prepared.
The problem with a hurricane is that while meteorologists do their absolute best to track it and dig up all the historical storm information they can, there’s always the unknown factor. Prime example- Irma. First, it was supposed to turn, and then it was not going to turn until later. The hurricane was coming in at Miami then it changed again to come in around Naples. Then it was going closer to the east coast of Florida. It’s nobody’s fault, the future can’t be predicted. This just shows the uncertainty that surrounds a hurricane.
There are times when you evacuate and then it wasn’t nearly as bad as they thought. There are other times when you’re glad you did leave. Either way, when you have to prepare to leave the unknown could drive you to a panic attack. What can you fit in the car that you absolutely don’t want to lose and can’t replace? You can’t pack everything. Even with what you do pack, you’ll probably forget something and realize it afterward. Don’t forget your pets. You can’t just leave them at home alone. Have you ever tried to find a last minute hotel that accepts pets? Good luck.
When you get out of town, it’s a lot of times just what is available not necessarily somewhere you’d choose to go. If it is somewhere you’ve chosen to go, it’s likely taken you 2-3 times longer than normal to get there with traffic. Then, you are trying not to spend a lot of money but still do things if only to keep your mind off of your situation temporarily. It’s a tough thing to balance.
Imagine going through all of this, and all of those emotions as well as spending money you don’t really have and then coming home to a few limbs on the ground. Yes, you are grateful and relieved, however, then you get a little irritated and think “ok, next time I’m not going anywhere.” The problem is that the next time, it might be a different story. It’s all a giant gamble and you have to err on the side of safety.
Now imagine after the storm, your power is off and who knows for how long. It’s hot and humid; everybody is cranky and quiet honestly starting to smell a little funny. You’re trying to get the yard cleaned up from debris during the day. At night, there’s not much you can do. It doesn’t cool down at night in Florida; often it’s the same hot muggy feeling that was there during the day. I don’t know about you but it’s a difficult environment to sleep in. Being hot and tired on top of bored and/or overwhelmed just makes the situation worse.
Then, there’s those who not only lose power but lose their valuables, their home, their car. Coming back to that, how do you even begin to pick up the pieces?
I can’t speak for the difficulties faced with snow days. I have friends who have moved down to Florida that have told me about them. I just think that the southeast gets the raw deal on ‘weather’ days. Regardless, a hurricane evacuation is never, ever, a vacation getaway.