Bracing for Irma: Tales From the Florida Stormfront

We will be fine. We are well prepared. The only thing I wish I could get fixed is my chainsaw, which won’t start.

I just may have to get another one. I am pretty sure there will be branches to cut away.

Here is my hurricane tale through the years.

Andrew, Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Dennis, Wilma and Matthew. A list of friends?

Nah.

Those are the major hurricanes that have affected me since I made Orlando my home in 1992.

Each one was treated differently as far as preparation.

With each yearly storm season (June 1 to Nov. 30) I gained more experience in getting properly prepared.

I had just moved to Orlando when Andrew came calling. I was an apartment dweller at the time, fresh from the Bronx and totally unprepared.

Fortunately for me, Andrew only brought Orlando a lot of rain but brought its destructiveness to South Florida.

After that I became a homeowner.

I survived a couple of hurricane seasons without incident until a dude named Floyd came calling.

A very powerful Category 4 was targeting the middle of the state and go through the center, and through my home area as a very strong Category 3 storm.

As part of my preparations, I bought plywood and boarded up every window.

The inside of our home was eerily dark. And Floyd was (thankfully) a no-show. I stored up the plywood and a few quiet years went by until 2004.

That year we were treated to an evil trifecta of Charley, Frances and Jeanne.

I again boarded up for Charley.

Good thing I did. Small, tight, fast and powerful, Charley did a lot of damage straight through the center, entering south of Tampa and followed the Interstate 4 from west to east.

A double combination punch of Frances and Jeanne followed closely behind Charley turning Central Florida residents into a punch drunk group of citizens.

When Ivan was announced to be coming our way, a communal groan went up from us all.

Ivan spared Central Florida but instead gave the Florida panhandle a large dose of wet destruction.

Then things went very quiet, relatively, for almost a decade.

Last year Hurricane Matthew reignited my sense of hurricane preparations as it took aim at us here. But there was something very familiar to that track and the high winds. Very Floyd-like from 1999.

It ended up following a very similar path as it turned right before the state, gave the East Coast some surge and rain, but left Central Florida untouched.

It was a beautiful, bright sunny day.

But that miss only reinforced the naysayers who always contradict a careful person’s plans. They are always around at work, at school events or outside church.

Nah, it’ll turn, they say. They always do when they originate in the Atlantic.

There was some wisdom to that. And we can take some satisfaction in that they are mostly correct. But every now and then, a storm does something weird.

So now we have Irma.

Already a deadly and the strongest Category 5 in history in the Atlantic Basin. The track again is westward across the Atlantic but here is a twist.

The storm is huge, really huge, and it is not expected to make its right turn until it is just south of Miami, just before the Keys. And then it is tracked to go up the entire peninsula.

Even if turns a little bit east of projection, the entire peninsula will be treated to immense storm surges, biblical proportions of rain and wind gusts that can blow blue rain jacket-wearing weather personalities clear across roads and parking lots.

So once again I go into full preparation mode.

Water and food to last five days.

Full resupply of first aid items, batteries, fuel for generators and gas grills, lanterns, meds and games to pass the powerless hours away as we listen to the wind strike up against the boarded windows and hear the roof strain to keep its shape.

I avoided the long lines and water riots by taking advantage of the Labor Day weekend to get my supplies.

And although we had a decade of quiet, it was clear the storms would come calling again at some point.

We have plenty of supplies, and sufficient moxie.

We’ll get through it. Again.

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