On Hurricane Irma – and knowing humbly that we’re the lucky ones
I learned yesterday that you should always keep a tube sock in your purse. According to the incredibly friendly wine tasting hostess at the quaint Applewood winery, in the gorgeous Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, you can use a tube sock in countless impromptu ways including:
- a change purse.
- thumbless mittens if it gets cold outside.
- a napkin.
- a tissue.
- a short rope.
- and of course, to keep your feet warm.
I’m not sure how she got on this topic but, my goodness, she was such a sweet southern belle and boy did she have a lot to say. Despite her charm, my mind just wandered while she spoke, somewhere between worrying about my friends back at home, pondering the future of our home and whether that 31 year old roof will hold up, experiencing the guilt of falling behind on my work while stepping out to the local apple winery for breakfast after a 15 hour commute and nearly no sleep, and of course, itching for the belle to take a break from talking, to pour me that taste of wine; I was hoping it could take my mind off of reality.
When I look around me, it looks like we’re on vacation. The scenery is gorgeous. We’re surrounded by dinner theatres, cheesy museums, and the world-famous Dollywood. At night, we can light a campfire or soak in the cabin’s hot tub. We’re with some of our closest “framily.” On paper, it’s all perfect.
But we’re not on vacation. We’re among the hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Irma evacuees, fleeing our homes, not knowing what to expect if or when we’ll be able to return.
While nobody can predict what will unfold over the next couple days, I feel humble knowing we are the lucky ones. We’re the ones who took a gamble and had the means to evacuate early, when there was plenty of gas, low traffic, and accommodations still available in the states north of Florida. To be honest, I felt stupid forcing my family to evacuate. When we made the decision, it looked like things may not be THAT bad, but something inside of me just didn’t want to take the risk.
Three days later, I’m sitting here in the mountains, watching 24-hour news cycles and Facebook posts from my near and dear friends who are now trying to get out, but stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on one of the three highways that lead you out of Florida. They’re also the lucky ones because after spending a full day in the car, they’ll get out and be safe. There are so many unlucky ones… those who were stuck on a Caribbean island.. Those who simply don’t have the means to evacuate but wish they could.
Before we left Tuesday afternoon, we spent the prior 24 hours prepping: Planning our route, finding a place to stay, removing patio furniture so it doesn’t fly through someone’s window, catching up on menial things, like laundry, and organizing the house. And of course, packing. Packing with no understanding of how long we’ll be gone. Packing our valuables, our photo albums, jewelry, old computers and external hard drives. Also allowing the kids to each fill one backpack with their very favorite things.
Just in case.
It’s a pretty surreal feeling to look around your home and make judgement calls about which things actually matter to you. It turns out for me that it’s not much, and it all fits into a minivan. Again, feeling grateful that, compared to other types of disasters and others in this situation, we had the notice and the ability to at least make those decisions.
I’ve had a lot of people reach out via text and on Facebook to let us know they’re praying for us and thinking about us. Thank you. It means the world. But in all seriousness, we are fine. We are the lucky ones shacked up in the mountains getting lessons on MacGyver skills that only use tube socks.
If you pray, please say a quick thank you on behalf of us, but then direct your prayers to those who haven’t been so lucky. Those in the islands who have already experienced significant loss – including loss of life, those without the means to evacuate, and those who are stuck in Florida, either just dying to get out or committed to shackin’ it up and riding the wave.
I’ll post an update in the next couple of days.
Love, hope, prayers, and all of my good energy to everyone affected by Irma.