Journal Entry 09.15.2017 – Irma: The Aftermath
Yes, folks, I survived Irma, one of the biggest, baddest hurricanes in recent history (or ever?). It could have been a lot worst, but we still got hit with Category 1 winds here in Palm Beach County, north of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. We were lucky. Not living on a barrier island, being on the same grid at the power company, having the winds drop from a Category 4 at landfall to a Category 1… all of these factors led to our surviving the onslaught of this behemoth without much damage.
The Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic / Haiti and Cuba… plus the Florida Keys suffered the most damage. Especially the Keys. There are 10,000 people there, those who didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t evacuate… now without water, power, sewer, air conditioning or food. The authorities are doing their best, but it is going to be a slow recovery for those islands. And they were going to be hit no matter which track the hurricane ultimately took.
Fortunately for the east coast, the eye of the storm tracked further west. That does not mean we avoided the storm. It was huge! Huge! And encompassed the entire girth of the Florida peninsula, from one coast to another. The peninsula is only 90 to 150 miles wide after all and Irma was a monster, man-made or natural. The amount of exposure depended on a lot of factors, whether you were situated on a coastal barrier island, near water, surrounded by tall trees, with power / without power.
After the storm passed by, I learned that the little house where I am renting is situated on the same electrical grid as Florida Power and Light (FPL) a company that is taking quite a bit of abuse lately from irritated residents who have now been without power for five or more days. The hard-working linemen, from FPL and many other out-of-state companies are doing their best with a monumental task. They also triage their work, getting main intersections lighted, hospitals, fire stations, etc. Some neighborhoods are not so lucky, others are. Many of the out-lying areas will not have power for quite some time. Delray Beach has had a lot of issues with their aging power grid. The barrier islands were, as of today, still closed to all but emergency personnel and property managers. There’s no access to the beaches here, folks, so if you’re thinking of coming to Florida for a little holiday and look see at the damage, wait a couple of months.
I took my first outing today, venturing out on roads, looking at the damage to trees and shrubs. All in all, things looked better than what I witnessed in Palm Coast last year after Matthew. Brush was already removed from the streets, at least locally; major intersections were lighted; and my local Publix was getting restocked with supplies by happy employees. There were no gas lines, although gasoline was more expensive now post two major hurricanes.
I thought I would go visit my favorite wetlands… or at least see if it was open for business. As I approached, I saw a car pull out of the entrance, so I went in, parked and took a nice long walk on the boardwalk. I was rewarded for my efforts by seeing an alligator, a pair of Roseate Spoonbills, and many other beautiful birds. Some of the trees had been roughed up by the hurricane, losing branches, fronds and the like; the cypress looked a bit wind-burnt and sparse as needles had fallen during the great storm. However, on the whole, the wetlands took the storm pretty well. Nature is resilient. People are, too, or can be, but it does pay to prepare before hand.
Thousands, if not millions of Florida residents fled before the storm, creating unbelievable traffic jams on I-95, the Turnpike and I-75. I didn’t want to be part of that scene. I knew I was safe where I was, so I chose to stay. Other people in our neighborhood did the same; they stayed, and we fared pretty well compared to others. I will say this, all the media hype before the storm landed in Florida didn’t help. Despite my decision to stay, my surety that I would be safe, I was under a great deal of emotional distress the entire time… the build-up to the storm, during and finally some relief coming when the outer bands migrated north of our location. It takes a kind of crazy courage to stay in the path of a hurricane, I guess. And, boy, my housemate and I were relieved when we saw the storm being downgraded as it moved north. A category 1 hurricane is a lot easier to survive than a Cat 3 or 4; just ask the people on St. Martinque Island or at Key West.
Irma was a killer. Over 60 people lost their lives in the storm and searchers will probably find more as they carefully comb the rubble left in its wake. Do not judge these souls for choices made. Many people will be leaving the planet in the coming days as the frequencies heat up, some in a more dramatic way than others. Death is not the end, but for many, a blessed relief. It is us, those left behind, who have the sort out and begin afresh.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered through Harvey, Irma, the great monsoons in India and Pakistan, as well as the typhoon struck coasts of Japan and China. The winds of change are upon us. We must adapt, release and let go of what no longer serves. Rise up to meet the new day. It approaches!
I AM “Sunny” Kumara VaCoupe (aka Eliza Ayres)
© All Rights Reserved, Elizabeth Ayres Escher, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
P.S. Below are some photos I took during my walk today:
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