Not once did I think that I’d go from writing a blog about the devastation of a hurricane hitting Texas straight to a blog post about the devastation of a hurricane hitting Florida. If you’ve read my blog, you already know that I’m a Texas girl who now lives in Southwest Florida so both of these storms have affected me in some capacity.
If you haven’t read my blog post on hurricane Harvey, you can find that here: When You Pass Through the Waters
It’s now been 10 days since hurricane Irma made landfall in Marco Island, Fl and made it’s way north into my city of Naples, Fl. Most of my city sat in the eye wall of Irma the entire span of time that it was in our area and we certainly have the damage to prove it.
That said, the storm wasn’t nearly as catastrophic as initial forecasts predicted and I am incredibly thankful that God spared us as much as He was willing.
Initial predictions suggested that we’d be hit with a category 4 storm, at high tide, with storm surge up to 15+ feet. Just before landfall, Irma was downgraded to a category 3 and began to weaken on the back half of the storm. For those of you who are unfamiliar with hurricanes, the back half of the storm is what determines storm surge risks because it’s the area that starts pushing the water inland. After the weakening, storm surge in most areas was half or less what was originally expected. We also didn’t see massive flooding from rainfall totals because this storm wasn’t a rainmaker like some tropical systems tend to be. Contrary to predictions, area damage was mostly caused solely by the wind that Irma produced…and it produced a lot!
I’m not saying that our area didn’t suffer devastating issues. There are areas of the county that have significant damage. People have lost their homes, people have died. I am deeply saddened by what some have gone through. In some cases, I am angry that there are people who went through unnecessary struggles due to a lack of preparation and acknowledgment from their own county government. I will pray for them and I will pray for our elected officials who have neglected their citizens in their time of need.
But, as saddened as I am, I can still be grateful that the impact wasn’t what we all feared it would be. God was, and still is, with us. He protected us and He saw us through the storm.
Health risks abound, especially in harder hit areas, and we were ill-prepared to deal with some of what has happened post-hurricane. There are large populations of people who are still without power. This is especially hard because it’s September, in Florida, with highs in the 90’s and humidity levels nearly the same on some days. The first few days after the storm, it was nothing to see “feels like” temps in the 100-105 range. It’s been miserable! Good or bad, many people have lost weight because of their involuntary participation in the “hurricane diet”. I’ve lost 5lbs since the storm due to an increase in manual labor, drinking more water, and being without AC for 4 days. I certainly had the 5lbs to lose, I’ve now met my goal weight, but plenty of people weren’t in positions to lose weight and still be in a healthy range. In this instance, the area elderly were hit hard and it’s caused the hospitalization of dozens. I pray they are okay, are enjoying some decent food and AC, and that no one else suffers the same as they wait for their electricity to be restored.
To add to that, the excess rain we’d gotten on top of our unusually wet summer has caused issues with our sewer system. Multiple neighborhoods across our area have reported sewage backups into their streets. This issue has resulted in a countywide water conservation order and water shut-offs to try to lessen the amount of water entering the drainage system until it’s lowered. Sewage backups obviously present a wide-range of health issues for people, and for pets, so we’re having to take appropriate steps to deal with that. Of course, flooding also means an increase in mosquitoes and the potential illnesses related to bites too. Thankfully, mosquito control planes have finally been able to get in the air and treatment has resumed. That’ll be one less issue to worry about soon enough!
In the middle of all of the chaos though, good Samaritans emerged who helped make things just a little bit easier for those who were struggling. Just as they had after hurricane Harvey in Texas, people jumped on opportunities to help. They helped their neighbors and complete strangers. They jumped into facebook groups and twitter to give vital information to people who were desperate for answers to important pre-hurricane and post-hurricane issues that they were facing. They jumped in their cars and traveled across state lines to be here for us. Utility workers, emergency responders, and various other workers have come from across the country to help out our local workers so that things can get up and running quicker. It’s been amazing to witness the kindness and selflessness that people have shown and it’s certainly overshadowed the few bad apples who emerged in the middle of the chaos too!