To say it’s been a crazy week in Florida is an understatement. We went from not really worrying about Hurricane Irma with it going to the east coast to a quick shift to it coming up the west coast (where I am in Tampa).
On Tuesday things started to look more grim for the west coast of Florida, but Irma was still a ways out. To be honest, I wasn’t too concerned because it still seemed like the storm would die down and we wouldn’t be affected much. These feelings also came from the fact that I’ve lived in Florida nearly my entire life and while hurricanes have always been a real thing for Floridians to deal with, we never really had anything other than some heavier wind and rain where I lived. But really, nothing different from the normal summer thunderstorms (at least from what I remember).
It wasn’t until happy hour Tuesday night with coworkers where we started chatting a little more about the storm and like rapid fire, we all started to worry a little more until by the end we were all like yep, time to prepare. As I drove home I noticed a gas station much more packed than usual, but just figured I’d fill up the next day during lunch and do a Publix (grocery store) run.
During my lunch break I went to pick up some groceries, including some non-perishables like soup, bread, and water, just in case. Only when I got to Publix the shelves were literally wiped clean. One of the store workers even told me she felt like it was a brand new store they were just starting to stock – that’s how crazy it was! While I knew people would be there stocking up, I had no idea it would be that empty.
Post-grocery store I stopped at the Shell station – no gas. Over to Racetrac – no gas. BP? No gas. FINALLY at Wawa I found one pump with ethanol-free gas (which I don’t know much about other than it’s “cleaner”), but it was the only option I had, so I topped my tank off with it. Every single gas pump was empty around town, with yellow bags over the pumps and caution tape around the station to let people driving by know that nothing was left.
Serious apocalypse vibes all around, and the storm wasn’t even coming near us.
Thursday + Friday
More craziness on the news Thursday + Friday all around town with gas nearly impossible to find, especially as the weather channels started projecting a new path targeting central Florida, which put the Tampa area more in Irma’s path, especially since this hurricane was BIGGER THAN THE ENTIRE STATE OF FLORIDA!
My parents were in a mandatory evacuation zone, so Friday afternoon they packed the car up and came up to my house with my sisters and their dog and got ready to “hunker down” (the phrase of the week).
Saturday + Sunday
We were glued to the news all weekend, which should come as no surprise. Saturday morning when things were starting to look really bad for us, we started going back and forth on whether or not we should evacuate. The only problem was the entire state was trying to get out. We were worried about getting stranded on the highway either in gridlock traffic or without gas. And after going back and forth for so long, we finally just decided to stay.
By Sunday morning the winds were picking up and we anxiously watched as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. Updates from the National Hurricane Center (where the local meteorologists get their info) only really happened every 6 hours, but at that point any prediction models were pretty much out the window. We’d only know what would happen when it happened.
Our area was expected to be affected the most between 8 p.m. Sunday night and 8 a.m. Monday morning, with the worst happening from 1-3 a.m.
Monday + Tuesday (The Aftermath)
We were SO fortunate in this storm. It could’ve been so much worse. I never lost power and didn’t have any damage to my house. But the overall effects of the hurricane left all of us in Florida in kind of a trance state.
I’m exhausted. I finally got a good night’s sleep last night, but for just about a week, I’ve been tossing and turning and really nervous (for the first time in my life) about a hurricane. It’s been especially weird seeing everyone outside of Florida going about life normal – attending concerts and weddings, and even remembering 9/11. It was hard to remember what day it was here!
Vibes around here have been like the twilight zone, with life in Florida on a weird pause for everyone. All I can say is I’m SO thankful that we didn’t get anything worse than we did, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to my normal life routine!
P.S. Government and weather people, maybe next time let us know like the day before instead of a week. That anxiety was killer and I think I speak on behalf of everyone in Florida when I say, we really don’t want to go through that kind of stress again!