Florida is a weird, weird place. I was born and raised here, and have spent 34 of the last 37 hurricane seasons here. I still have the capacity for astonishment about my home state – each year we seem to find new ways to delight and/or horrify.
Hurricanes are a weird, weird weather phenomenon. Every time I’ve experienced one, I think about how unexpected and awful they must have been for our pre-radar ancestors. The day before a hurricane is almost always beautiful. And then it begins to rain. And it just gets worse and worse and windier and windier. There’s no thunder, no lightning, just the noise of the wind as it screams around the house and through the trees.
It makes a strange sort of sense that hurricanes and Florida go hand-in-hand.
Yesterday was gorgeous. We sat on our porch in the cool evening and watched the kids play soccer in the front yard.
Around lunchtime today, the outer bands of Hurricane Irma began to make their way across the panhandle, even though the hurricane hadn’t made landfall yet. Florida is a huge state, but this is a huge storm. It will get worse and worse, and windier and windier, and then it will be over.
And we will pick up the pieces. We always do.
After Katrina, the city of New Orleans lost over 400,000 residents. By contrast, Miami-Dade County only lost a net of 36,000 residents in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew steamrolled it. We get knocked down again and again, but we just can’t quit our state. Whether this is foolish or fearless, I can’t say.
Floridians seem to share a grim fatalism about our situation. We gather our supplies, make darkly funny jokes with our neighbors, churn out meme after meme, and have hurricane parties. We know how this works.
We’re not morons. (Well, most of us.) We know that these storms are dangerous, and we prepare as best we can. But part of us knows that there’s only so much you can do.
You can’t actually be ready for anything.
Irma is taking a leisurely stroll up the west coast of Florida, so we won’t see the whites of her eye until tomorrow. In 24 hours, the worst should be over.
See you on the flip side.