What a difference a week makes. Especially if you counted on a category five hurricane to swipe your hometown and self in pieces.
Last September 10, Hurricane Irma churned the state of Florida making its catastrophic land in the Keys and spreading calamity on through Florida’s southwestern coast, mercifully brushing Miami as a category three hurricane due to land interaction.
Irma was the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005, the strongest Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005, and the most threatening in size and strength observed in the Atlantic since Dean in 2007.
Everything about Irma had intensity about it – first, historic, unprecedented, and catastrophic. Ask the damage done to parts of the northeastern Caribbean and Florida during a week of relentless activity.
A day before its expected landfall in Miami, I took cover in the hotel right across my high-rise building in Brickell Avenue for fear of being slammed by a flying crane crashing thru my balcony on a 34th floor. Seeking shelter across my street seemed stupid for some, but being displaced from my original evacuation plan right before a mandatory evacuation, alarming warnings, no gas on tank or open station on sight, and the city airport closed explains my across-the-street diaspora.
What propelled me to make a hotel reservation next door? I did not want to die alone and have my family and friends suffer from my lack of preparation.
As Irma breached our coast unflinchingly, I bunkered at my hotel ballroom located in its fifth floor with no windows around us. Here, the husband of a dear friend, my dog and I bonded with 350 guests during eight hours of uninterrupted angst, electricity, and Wi-Fi, allowing most of us to call, text, and go online to watch images of rising floodwaters rushing thru businesses and residences downstairs; read about cranes crashing down; and hear about window panes turning into projectile glass blades one block from our hotel flying straight into my building.
Irma left Miami mid-afternoon, leaving thousands without power and covering Brickell in one murky and turbid body of restless water. After all the devastation she left in the Caribbean and the Keys, Irma baptized our financial district with a forgiving bath.
Grateful does not even begin to describe it.
A week later, I am lucky to be home with minor damage to my building, power and water restored, a full fridge, and a not-so-distant past stuck in my memory like a wet trunk. Many in my community are still without power, others in Florida and the Caribbean have lost it all, included loved ones. My hope is that with time, life and faith blossoms in all of them with blessings in disguise.
Fallen trees, shattered glass, twisted metals, and huge muddy ponds.
I walked counting blessings – my rock-solid family and lifetime friends who called relentlessly to ensure resources were available and my safety was not compromised. And then, kind souls who I mistakenly referred to as acquaintances kept me in their prayers like close friends do – the very strong connections made during a power-outage.
Hot, humid, and stormy Irma slipstreams gifted me with trails of truth.