We have had a whirlwind of excitement (and stress!) in our home over the last week or so!
Let me start by saying we are so very fortunate that we did not lose power (at all!) and our home escaped damage. We had to do some minor raking in the yard but that was it! I know many in Irma’s path were not so fortunate. We are praying for those who were affected as well as the first responders, lineman, national guard, and so many others that came to the aid of Florida.
Hurricane Irma Comes to Florida
Until Tuesday, September 5th, Irma was just the name of someone’s sweet Grandma! By the afternoon of the 5th water was flying off the shelves at every grocery store, and people were starting to line up for gas. It was anxiety producing to say the least.
We live in Florida. Even though a hurricane hasn’t hit Tampa in about 100 years, we were prepared. We didn’t need to run to the store to get water, we had it. We also had a good amount of emergency supplies. Hats off to my husband as this is something he has been very diligent about having prepped. It paid off. I have a blog post about Hurricane preparation and I have beefed it up a bit as now I can better add our own personal experience.
Wednesday and Thursday were fairly normal around here, except we were prepping our home for some sort of bad weather. It still looked like SE Florida was going to get the brunt and that the storm would lessen considerably by the time it reached Tampa. It was going to be going up more of the east side of Florida. Bad for the east side but better for us. It wasn’t until late Friday night that the storm had moved west and it looked as if we were going to get a direct hit of a Category 3 or 4. We were getting calls and texts from worried friends and family in Michigan. I still do believe that The Weather Channel was really hyping the storm!
Evacuating Hurricane Irma
Up until that point we were pretty adamant we were going to hunker down and ride out the storm. However, when we woke up early on Saturday morning and saw that the storm hadn’t moved east again as expected, we decided the prudent action to take was to head north and get out of the path of the storm. We found hotel rooms in Columbia, SC, packed up the six kids, two cats, photo albums and hopped on the expressway. My big concern about evacuating was that we would get stuck on the expressway in tons of traffic, run out of gas, with six kids. Ugh. Again, my husband had planned ahead and he had extra gas for the car. We finished off some perishables for breakfast, packed some items in a cooler and headed out. Thankfully we had no issues getting to South Carolina on Saturday evening.
See that blue pin above?? That’s our home. At this point the meteorologists were still predicting a Category 4 would go through Tampa.
I know people watching from other areas think “why don’t you just leave!!”. It’s not necessarily concern for material possessions, yes we know they can be replaced. It is hard to leave your HOME, the place that people feel the most safe. The unknown of evacuation is very scary.
It was beyond eery to see closed gas stations on our way out of Florida.
Meanwhile my parents were making their was slowly back to Florida after the summer in Michigan. They, with their friends, ended up meeting us in South Carolina. That was a comfort for the kids, especially the younger ones to say “we are going to see Grandma!” versus “we are fleeing a hurricane”. It was a sense of relief for my parents too as they were eager for us to leave Florida and get out of the path of the storm. They spent Saturday night and Sunday night in the hotel with us.
It was a nerve-wrecking couple of days. We sat glued to the television and our phones to get the latest information. It felt like we had been waiting for Irma, a rather unwelcome guest, to arrive for weeks instead of a few days. It was hard to watch the devastation unfold on the television. Sunday was a restless day without much to do. We went to mass and we were not the only Floridians. Our hotel was also full of Floridians!
Returning to Florida After Irma
On Monday morning we received word early that our house never lost power and had no visible damage. We were anxious to get on the road and get back home. Let me tell you, the drive through SC was terrible.¬†We drove through the tail end of Irma in South Carolina and part of Georgia. I would not want to drive through those conditions ever again. Not only did the weather stink, there was not much gas available (we had extra), no food (it’s very weird to see fast food restaurants closed!!), and no bathrooms.
Once we got through Jacksonville, again no gas, no bathrooms, many intersections with no power, but very limited flooding, we hit I-75. The weather was fine but the traffic was definitely more congested. Exits were full with cars that were waiting for gas. Again, very creepy! Even though the weather was awful on Monday I’m so glad we drove home when we did. Traffic and gas conditions were worse on Tuesday and Wednesday. An understandable situation as gas trucks and supplies were headed to south Florida where they were needed first!
The picture above shows a clogged exit as people are waiting for gas and that rain was minor compared to what we drove through it SC!
The photo below is a packed Florida exit as again people were trying to get gas, food, or bathroom access.
All in all a temporary gas and food shortage is no big deal. We had safe travels and the ability to evacuate. We never lost power and our home was not damaged. Many people are facing much bigger challenges!
Needless to say our homeschool plans went out the window for several days leading up to Irma and for a couple of days upon return. I tried to maintain as much normalcy as possible but it was just a huge distraction. Activities were cancelled left and right, our oldest still has not returned to school. Slowly but surely we are getting back on track.
You can check out my Instagram and see some of our preparations
Thanks to all of you who expressed concern for us, we felt your prayers!