15 family members
6 adults, 9 kids
5 of those kids 3 and under
2 sets of twins
1 snoring bulldog …
all trapped under one roof for 3 days.
These are my people. My small tribe of fellow hurricane warriors who spent the tense hours before, during, and after Hurricane Irma in our home. Amazingly, we all emerged from the storm with smiles on our faces. We had dark circles under our eyes, and we have had better hair days, but we were still smiling.
Evacuating for a hurricane is a tricky thing. Going to a hotel can be costly. You are trapped in close quarters without the comforts of home and you can’t return easily after the storm passes. Evacuating for Irma was even trickier since most of the state of Florida was threatened by the storm.
My husband and I decided to “shelter in place” for a variety of reasons. We live in a new home, built to stringent hurricane codes, with a new roof. We have shutters to cover our windows and underground power lines. We felt safe here. Once we had made that decision, we invited some of my family who live on a nearby barrier island (an evacuation zone) to hunker down along side us.
Our guests arrived on Saturday evening. They came hauling their storm supplies – their bottled water and ice, flashlights and chargers, comfort food and snacks. The storm wasn’t supposed to hit our area until Sunday night, but the wind and rain were going to pick up on Sunday morning. We spent as much time outside as we could that night. We swam, grilled burgers, and ate on the patio. After we put the little ones to bed, I taught everyone how to play “Shut the Box,” the official game of Hurricane Irma. We went to bed and tried to get a good night sleep in the literal calm before the storm.
Sunday we watched the forecast tracks, hopeful the storm would turn and spare our state from the worst. The big kids entertained the little ones. We played games, ate brownies, hunted for fossils, ate brownies, swam in between rain bands, and ate more brownies. We mocked the electronic voice that came over the television and told us to be careful of falling “DAY-bree” over and over again. The guys donned bike helmets, for laughs and protection, before boarding up our last sliding door. We also made sure the dog was safe.
All 15 of us went to bed with anxious hearts. How would Irma attack our homes, our community, our state? After a restless night we awoke to mostly good news here in our hometown. Irma knocked over trees and power lines, fences and pool enclosures, but for the most part our area dodged a bullet. As I am writing this, the effects on the rest of the state are still uncertain, but it is clear that things could have been much, much worse.
Hurricanes are scary. The uncertainty, the frenzy to stock up on supplies, the hanging of shutters and finally hunkering down through the storm are stressful and draining. But we managed to take a hard situation and turn it into what my son called “a really big sleepover party.” We got to spend some extra time together and make a few memories.
And that is the real silver lining after the storm.
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