More Post Irma Thoughts: To Evacuate or not Evacuate.

This is the script (loose term) for my segment in this week’s Gun Blogger VarietyCast. I figured that it would save me at least one extra blog post.

Hello heathens and welcome to the shaken and bandied about Mental Flea Market.

Before anything else, I want to deeply thanks those of you who offered best wishes and prayers for Florida. I do believe they were heard and that a lot of people are here because of that.

So I was asked by Sean to explain why I decided to stay down in Miami rather than get the hell out when Hurricane Irma had South Florida in its crosshairs and I am gonna do so even if it means to share personal stuff that I am usually very reluctant to do.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: It was not brutal self-confidence that kept me here. I am not living in a hurricane-proof bunker nor am I a suicidal idiot. It was a long and painful analyzed set of circumstances that simply led me to select which of the shit sandwiches I was supposed to eat.

Now, let’s review some basic things: Irma was a hurricane with a predicted South to North path and was about to hit a state which its only evacuation way are highways running along the same path. I am in Miami Dade County which is almost all the way down south. The Hurricane was as wide as the state is long and it measured 185 mph for a food part of its trip to out latitude. I always considered evacuation in Florida a very foolish proposition since short of a heavy armored vehicle, no car/van/truck etc. is a good shelter for a hurricane. I know my house can withstand a Category 3 hurricane (It survived Wilma with an old roof) and I have all my gear in one convenient place. So, sort of a monster hurricane there was no win on hitting the road.

Of course, Irma had to show up to challenge my beliefs.

Now the personal part. Two weeks ago I was at the hospital with my 85-year-old mother. She had been suffering from an ungodly high blood pressure which made her primary physician send her to the ER. She was given all kinds of tests and found out she had suffered a small stroke. Fortunately, she did not seem to have suffered any detectable consequences, but she was given medication and told not to stress herself.

Now mom is a very excitable person. I should know, right? I known her since I was born. So I am doing my best to keep her calm even when the meds are affecting her vision and making her loopy which she hates. Now I have a bitch called Irma barreling my way and I am supposed to come up with a decision that affects life or death.

If we were wealthy and not having to work for somebody, we would have jumped in out Tactical SUV and drive all the way to see the family in Tennessee. But we ain’t and that meant short of quitting, we have to wait for the employers to say “OK, everybody get out” or be fired or quit. You are an adult and have responsibilities (Medical bills to pay for an uninsured elderly for example) that cannot just be shed away and if you think they don’t mind in your decision-making, you are fooling yourself.

I did look into evacuating and incredibly by Wednesday morning it was becoming evident many people thought the same. The math was 439 miles (6.5 hours) to Valdosta, Georgia which is the first major city near the border between states and then another 7 hours 500 miles to Nashville, Tennessee. Or basically 13 hours and 917 miles to get to family which always beats some cold hotel and strangers.

But by Thursday morning, people were commenting in Social media about taking 7 hours to go from Miami to Orlando (it takes about 3.5 normally) and 16 hours to get to the Georgia border.  Traffic jams were bad and bound to become brutal (as they did) How am I supposed to spend that much time on the road with a sick 85-year-old who just got out of the hospital? My fear was that from all the tension, she my mother would have another stroke, this time a big one and we are stuck in the middle of NoEffingWhere County Florida without access to a medical facility of hope of rapid rescue. Ladies and Gents, the idea of having a stroked out mother or worse, a corpse in my car in the middle of an evacuation was not something I wanted to experience.

So the missus and I decided the less crappy option was to stay home and brave Irma. I am not gonna paint you an image of bravery. I was scared for a long while. It was not till I started to see a shift in the path that I began to think we had a chance. When finally moved to the West coast, I was elated and sick at the same time since I have so many friends over there. The predictions were downgraded to Tropical Storm to Category 1 winds on the East coast… easy peasy… and they became a reality that beat the crap out of us for some 16-18 hours. I really hate the dirty side of a hurricane!

The result, by pure luck and possibly the power of prayer was that we had no damage and we are still alive. Mom is doing well, improving slowly from her ailment and we are trying to get back to normal life.

But make no mistake. It was not a good decision just because it ended well. It was a crapshoot and the dice just happened to roll right this time.

Life gets in the way, Murphy gets in the way and God laughs at your plans.

You will never have the perfect plan for prepping. At best, you hope to do survive your decision.

One Reply to “More Post Irma Thoughts: To Evacuate or not Evacuate.”

  1. Chances are we all have similar stories. You’re faced with a few bad choices, so it’s a matter of picking the least awful choice.

    It’s an accident of the geography of the state and the path of this storm. If Irma was going east to west, like an Andrew or a Frances or Jeanne for us, evacuation is much easier. You could have evacuated to Orlando or maybe even Ft. Pierce and it would have been quite a bit easier. If Irma was coming at us, west to east, we could evacuate to Naples and I’d bet no one thought of that.

    After the first bad storm in ’04, Jeb Bush said one of the lessons was that if you’re not on the beach or not in a mobile home or other mandatory evacuation zone, then don’t evacuate. Hunker down. Shelter in place. You have to balance that with the fact that if a Cat 5 hurricane comes ashore, nothing in our county is going to survive except the old blockhouses on Cape Canaveral – and they’d flood. I heard a few people saying they stayed off I-95 and 75, and took back roads. Going 45 on back roads instead of 35 on the interstates worked for them. Most of those roads are 55 zones, once you’re out of town.

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