You know those people who think about EVERYTHING before bed? That’s me. I tend to think about all the problems of the world, if I have a plan for lunch and dinner tomorrow, that I need to make a doctor’s appointment for that pain or how thankful I am my family and friends are safe and healthy every day and so on.
This blog post is no different, I was lying in bed last night in the heat, most of our freezer and fridge empty, no power for the third day in a row, I wasn’t able to work or blog, or even check much of my social media, so if everyone is wondering where I have gone and why there was no blog post last Monday, well, we were under a hurricane warning and it was scary at times.
I don’t really know when hurricane Irma started to form, but as it got closer and closer to us (South Georgia) the predictions got scarier and scarier. It was said to be the largest storm ever seen in the Atlantic (ocean), reaching the highest category possible for hurricanes (a 5 out of 5) and for reference, Katrina, the hurricane who devastated New Orleans, was a category 3. We slowly watched as the predictions changed and the hurricane moved in to make landfall and hit the Caribbean, we watched the rubble, the flood, the scary videos and the images of evacuees heading north to Atlanta and Tennessee. For days “we knew it was coming” but we had no idea how hard it was going to hit us.
A week before the storm, a lot of people in Valdosta started to really worry about the hurricane and prepare emergency kits, buy supplies and get as much water and gas as they could. I honestly didn’t panic, I have grown used to storms, hurricanes and even the threat of tornadoes. I have been through many of them since moving from Brazil, in 2010, but nothing ever affected me other than losing power (thankfully!).
As Harvey hit Texas and all of our worries, prayers and helping hands went their way, Valdosta started running out of gasoline throughout town, a lot of supermarkets also ran out of water and emergency deliveries were being made to both. As the storm approached, the base (Moody Air Force Base) closed its operations for the following Monday (September 11, 2017) and subsequently Tuesday, when the worst was going to be upon us. My family and friends elsewhere were terrified, they flooded me with calls, messages and questions about the storm and kept asking me if we were going to evacuate. Storm shelters were put in place and mobile homes and RV’s were encouraged to leave, as at one point, the predictions said we could be hit with a category 3 full-blown hurricane, which was scary, and would most likely tear them to the ground.
I heard so much about floods and damaging winds to the point that it could cause major damage to roofs and walls that I ended up moving some of my belongings away from windows, packaged them in waterproof vacuum bags and storing them in a safe closet. We made a “bunker” in our laundry room and packed an emergency bag and cooler with food just in case things got as bad as they were saying. We were the stragglers who bought water the day before the storm, we baked muffins and cookies in case we lost power (so glad we did!) and cranked up the freezer and fridge as high as we could, so the food would last longer.
The interesting thing is the feeling I got while I was packing those things, they were mostly photo albums, books, linens (in case we needed clean linens and couldn’t wash anything), documents and portable electronics. I was packing for the event all of my things were blown away, broken and flooded. I can only imagine how evacuees from South Florida felt, or all the people who left their homes in the Caribbean to wait out the storm in shelters.
It puts certain things in perspective, although I tend to overthink these things on the regular (hello bedtime), it was weird and sad to see all the little pieces that make our house a home dismantled, put into bags and stowed away out of sight. Especially with the thought it could all potentially be gone or damaged in a few days.
At the end, the hurricane went back and forth between categories 2 and 4 on the day preceding landfall in Valdosta but it slowed down and lost force, hitting us as a tropical storm. We read every National Weather Service update and briefing, I also had to update family and friends, our house was a mess and we hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. The rain started early on Sunday and didn’t stop until Tuesday, but we were lucky, nothing got damaged, nothing flooded and nothing broke. We did lose water and power in the middle of the night on Sunday, and we spend a total of 4 days without power, and lost some food from the fridge and freezer.
It has been challenging and we managed to cook some meals on the grill as we tried to save as much food as we could in the fridge and freezer. I know it could have been much worse and I was one of 15.000 as of at the time I wrote this post, who didn't have power from our provider.
Life had stopped, there was no work, no routine, no certainty of when the power would be back on and when things will feel like normal again. Most people are still trying to get home, a lot of them will have no home to go back to and entire communities will have to rebuild. Hurricane season has just begun, but I hope we don’t have to face disasters of this magnitude for a while, I hope everyone has time to rebuild, to recover and to slowly get back to “normal” or to a new normal. My heart goes out for those who lost everything. Count your blessings, tell your loved ones how much they are loved and make the most out of your life, we just don’t know what tomorrow brings.