Thank you to everyone who has reached out over the past 2 weeks checking in throughout Hurricane Irma. Life is finally getting back to normal and we are feeling very thankful that all of our family and friends across the state of Florida are safe.
The storm was expected to make landfall in Florida as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane on Sunday, September 9th. Both Patrick and I’s offices closed on the Thursday and Friday prior to allow people time to prepare and evacuate. There was widespread panic and anxiety throughout Miami as grocery stores completely ran out of food and water and gas shortages led to lines that were up to an hour long. By Wednesday evening before the storm, our apartment building was issued a mandatory evacuation order and we quickly made plans to leave. There’s something about natural disasters that put life into perspective. We loaded up our car with our most prized possessions in just a couple of suitcases and hoped for the best for everything we had to leave behind. The most important thing was that Patrick, our puppy, and I were together.
Over 6 million people evacuated in Florida, so traffic was our biggest obstacle when it came to leaving. If you know Florida well, then you know there are only 2 major roads going north- I-75 and I-95— neither highway was moving more than 25-30mph. There was also a gas shortage, and lines from the rest stops were spilling out onto the highways causing more backups. We left Miami at 3:30am on Thursday morning and drove 21 hours straight until we reached North Georgia on Friday morning just past midnight. Patrick and I knew evacuating would be a game of patience and perspective. So many people were ordered to leave and so many people had much harder circumstances than we did— evacuating with the elderly, babies, or small children. Despite being in standstill traffic for a good portion of the day, we took deep breathes and reminded ourselves how lucky we were. We were relieved to arrive safely at our cabin in the woods and settled in for the next several days.
We tried to make the best of our weekend away. We explored the eclectic town of Helen (a Bavarian Alps replica town), went wine tasting, hiking, and built big fires outside each night. My parents drove down from Virginia with my childhood dog, Sammy, and spent 2 days with us as well.
On Sunday, we were glued to the news watching as Irma made her way through Florida. I was praying for friends, family and co-workers who had stayed to ride out the storm. We saw news reporters from our street getting pelted with rain and hurricane force winds as the water continued to rise. There was chest deep water and white cap waves going down our street as trees and debris flew through the air. It was a helpless feeling to watch from afar.
On Monday night, Hurricane Irma approached Georgia. It’s hard to believe the storm made it up the entire state of Florida and all the way into the north mountains of Georgia. We had tropical storm force winds and hunkered down in our cabin. We woke up to no power, trees and debris down everywhere, and power lines across the roads. That was our sign to head home, so we packed up the car and hit the road. 15 hours later we made it to Orlando where we stayed at the Loews Universal Resort (yay dog friendly hotels!) for the next 2 days.
Our apartment back in Miami was without power, water and working elevators for almost 6 full days. We returned to Miami on Thursday, September 14th when we got word that power and water was working again after 8 days of being away. We were without cable and internet (which in the grand scheme of things, seemed very minor) until this morning. My office reopened on Monday the 18th and Patrick’s reopened today, so we are finally feeling like things are getting back to normal.
Miami was considered “lucky” during Hurricane Irma. As it rapidly approached South Florida, it continued to move west and weaken so that we were not a direct hit. Instead of hitting Miami as a category 4 or 5 as predicted, we were only hit with category 2 force wind gusts. We arrived home to so many trees down, debris still all over, and even boats in the middle of some of our favorite parks. But overall, we were lucky. All of our family and friends were safe with no major damage to their homes.
As I said, natural disasters really put things into perspective. Hold on tight to your loved ones and continue to pray for the places still suffering from these disasters– Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Caribbean, the FL Keys and Texas.