From this post’s title and the fact that I’ve already written about my colonoscopy you may be thinking I’m going there again. But this time I’m referring to the evacuation of Floridians due to Hurricane Irma. Having been victimized by New York area traffic jams since I first took the wheel in high school, the media coverage showing miles of traffic trying to move north, while the southbound lanes remain completely empty makes me wince.
My concern over Irma making landfall in Florida is more than simply as a compassionate observer. As sure as migrating birds flee from gray, snowy winters, my sister and her husband retired to the warm and sunny Gulf Coast a couple of years ago. Long before there was any specific weather-related threat, they fortified their new ‘nest’ with hurricane shutters and removed any tall trees that were within striking distance of the roof. As news of Irma in the Caribbean began to disseminate, they planned to “hunker down” (in quotes due to its nauseating overuse in storm coverage.)
Making plans during a hurricane is like trying hit a moving target. Plan A included ordering a camp stove from Amazon (with overnight delivery) and stocking up on Dinty Moore Hearty Meals. My sister and I both tend to be rule-followers, so when the recommendation to evacuate was given, the idea of riding it out was changed to Plan B, an impromptu trip to Atlanta. As my sister went online to book accommodations, options for hotel rooms were disappearing by the minute. But, being the resourceful one, she reserved a room for a somewhat reasonable rate.
While all-day news coverage of Irma is creating panic over the intensity of the storm and destruction in the Caribbean, the station’s weather reporter stands in a street in Puerto Rico with torrents of rain soaking his waterproof suit and bracing against the wind to keep from being blown away. Scenes like this instill enough fear to develop Plan C: LEAVE NOW! A hotel room at a halfway point is hastily booked and car packed. It’s time to batten down the hatches (AKA hurricane shutters) and go.
What should have been an eight-hour trip, becomes a fifteen-hour ordeal. They arrive safely in Atlanta only to learn that Irma will be following them there in a few days’ time. Having never been to Atlanta, my optimistic sister considered taking in the sights, but worrying about the storm, stoked by media attention, put a damper on having fun. After several days, Irma, now a tropical storm, has passed and they are eager to return home. Wait, not so fast! You must endure the same torturous fifteen-hour traffic-congested road trip because the same million people that evacuated are now trying to get home too!
Tiny yet insidious germs lurk among the hundreds of hotel guests, trying to make you “it” in their game of tag. They sneak up on you, starting with an occasional cough and soreness in the throat. Before you know it, the nose faucet is running full blast accompanied by sneezing, aching, and general malaise. My poor sis brings home colds and infections the way some folks bring home souvenirs. In the throes of head cold misery, she swears that next time, if there is one, they will stay put. In her words, “I’d rather risk death than go through another evacuation.”