After Hurricane Irma, life changed greatly – for the better – when we found a generator on day 5 of 6 without electricity. I began to re-enter the normal world. We could plug in fans, charge up phones and use computers.
This is not my first hurricane. I moved to Florida in 1979 but never really felt the disaster of a direct hit until 2004 when the eye of Charley crossed my path. We were without power for a week, and it was August.
One thing you will realize when you are in the destruction zone is that for you, life stops, and survival begins. The rest of the world gets bored with hurricane photos after about a day and moves on to the next big story. You continue to search high and low for ice – the one thing you can’t stock up on, and the thing that everyone needs in this climate.
My Irma nightmare is over and we are in recovery mode. I have air conditioning, I have a refrigerator that works, although it contains little food. No more searching for ice, and no more digging through coolers to find something to eat and drink. I can turn on a fan, and I sleep at night without soaking in my own sweat. My home is not damaged. I am more lucky than many.
If you have never visited Florida, you can’t fathom the tropical heat we deal with here in the summer months. In all my years of living in New England I never felt heat like this. On their most humid days, it does not come close to the weather here. 85 degrees in New Hampshire can be beautiful, but 85 in Florida can be down right uncomfortable. And it does not cool down much at night. The horrible humidity never goes away this time of year. Being sweaty is a way of life.
Local news stations are still reporting about people with damaged homes who can’t get insurance adjusters to come take a look. People with holes in their roofs. Homes in water. People still surviving in this ungodly heat. Hurricane Irma is not in the past for them. (Months later many boat docks in the area are still demolished. Some are in the midst of being re-built.)
Where I live, much of the neighborhood got the power back after a couple of days. For some reason there was a small section of our neighborhood without power for 6 days and I live in that tiny section. None of my neighbors offered help of any kind to us. They never even asked how we were doing. At night our electricity-lacking homes were dark. The lucky ones had generators running which could easily be heard, but we didn’t have one.
We are new to this neighborhood, having moved in less than a year ago, but I like to think that if the situation were reversed I would have offered ice or food or something to my neighbors. Maybe they have never suffered for days without a generator so they don’t understand how tough it is to eat from coolers, and cook on the grill in 95 degree heat. To try and sleep without even fans running. Living 24 hours a day with no place to go to get cool is a nightmare.
I have to believe they don’t understand or they would have offered. In Charley, my neighborhood got together and helped each other. We shared food and helped with cleanup. This time we were alone. Florida is always changing and never for the better. Sorry, but I’ve seen it decline over the years. 38 years ago – even 13 years ago – it was a different place.