Our days of watching and waiting and hoping and cursing and praying are coming to a close. Hurricane Irma arrives at some point in the next 24 hours. When I look at the radar, it seems we'll feel some bands later today or tonight. I think (and desperately hope) that we'll have a storm that arrives in daylight.
My spouse did much of the hurricane prep on Thursday, but some of it must be done at the last minute. Yesterday, I made some raspberry streusel bars, in part to use up the frozen raspberries, in part because they make good breakfast food. My spouse and I plotted out the day.
I made a quick run to the bank to deposit my spouse's paycheck while he started working on installing the last hurricane panels. I got back and helped, but I'm really not much help. For every wingnut I installed, he installed 4.
We had made several lists of what we'd take with us, but it was surprisingly hard to finish the work. When we were preparing, the projected track was right up the middle of the state. Should we protect our possessions that we left behind against the wind or against the floods? Probably both.
I knew that I'd be leaving some stuff in the dryer--it's off the ground and well protected. We put some framed family pictures in the dryer, but decided to leave the photo albums on the shelf. Once I have to go back to work, I want to have those clothes, so I added them to the collection, along with my work sandals that are in better shape.
I still had room. I put all of my poetry rough draft legal pads in there, my sketchbooks and expensive markers, and then I called it done.
I put the handwritten journals that are most important to me into the dishwasher. It's never been connected, so I didn't worry about water backing up into it. I was surprised by how much writing is left. I hope I don't lose it all, but if I do, I've protected the important stuff that's not already digitalized.
Then it was on to the food decisions. Since we would be evacuating to our friends' house, I didn't want to arrive with no food, but I wanted to be mindful that they wouldn't have room for all of our perishables. I had some salmon in the freezer; it stayed because my friends don't eat fish much, and I didn't want to cook fish there and put up with the stinky fish wrappers through the storm. All of our non-perishables with any nutritive value fit into several bags, so they came with us, along with a cooler of food for the freezer and the fridge.
We loaded the cars, which was a sobering moment. I looked at everything that was left behind? Should I try to cram all the CDs into every nook and cranny of the car? I was tempted, but I didn't. I moved some of our items up off the floor, and we unplugged everything. Then we put shutters over the last door and drove away.
We were worried about the traffic on major highways, so we took Highway 1 north. I was flooded by memories: there's the furniture store where we bought our sleigh bed which may or may not be there when we return. There's the Riverfront Hotel, where we stayed the very first time we visited Ft. Lauderdale. There's the Hustler Store that used to be the last Peaches Records in the U.S. I remembered meeting friends at various restaurants along the way. I felt somewhat desolate, but I didn't cry.
We are lucky to have friends who were sincere when they offered us shelter. We unloaded the cars, relaxed, and played cards all afternoon, just waiting for the 5 p.m. advisory.
The 5 p.m. advisory was good for us, but terrifying for the Keys. The track has shifted west again. We will stay put, because we're still on the outer edge of the cone, and it's a huge storm. We're still looking at hurricane force winds, but they'll be a category 1 or 2, not the category 4 that the Keys will feel.
By the end of the day, with all the physical labor and the worry, I was exhausted, but I found it hard to fall asleep. I was worried about the people who are under much more severe threat than they were this morning. I worried about the homeless people that we had seen along the way. I worried about the ability of all of us to weather two major hurricanes in a month. Eventually, I drifted off.
We are as prepared as we can be. When we emerge on the other side, we'll see where everyone stands, and we'll recover. I'm ready for this storm to be over.
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