The people along the east-southeast coastline of Texas are still in shock. Unable to begun their recovery from Category 4 Hurricane Harvey’s direct hit less than two weeks ago. Unable to calculate their devastating losses.
Floridians, on the other hand, just went into their shock-mode on Monday, September 11. (Yes, exactly sixteen years after that September 11.) Hurricane Irma had hit Florida.
One week earlier – Tuesday, September 5, everyone in all 73-76 counties had been put on high alert by Governor Rick Scott. The National Hurricane Center in Miami had rated Hurricane Irma a Category 4-5. It would arrive in Florida some time between September 8 and 10.
It did not matter which coast the hurricane hit. The state is narrow enough, and Irma’s diameter and circumference were massive enough that, peripherally, it would paralyze a large part of the state.
Between September 8 and 10-11, Hurricane Irma hit every coast of Florida. And, it has paralyzed every county in Florida.
Until the hurricane actually hit The Keys, my sister in Southeast Broward County sat in Irma’s direct path. I was concerned, but not worried.
Before the hurricane reached Puerto Rico, Donna went into high gear. She activated a system that she developed in 1992, as Andrew approached. She is a veteran preparer for and survivor of Category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes.
A lot of people were counting on her to jump right in. She’s responsible for a lot of stores and a lot of workers, and to some extent, the welfare of the workers’ families. She’s answerable to the leaders of an international corporation that had just lost a lot of stores in Southeast Texas.
When it comes to major hurricanes, I tend to listen to my sister more than anyone else. I knew that her advice would come in handy. Hurricane Irma was described as much bigger, much more dangerous than even Andrew had been.
A week ago, I had four big hurricanes under my belt. Until September 9, only the peripherals of hurricane number five – Irma – were supposed to skirt the Orlando area.
I was finishing this blog.
CHANGE OF COURSE IN FLORIDA
I was working at Seralago Hotel and Suites, Kissimmee, when two severe tropical storms caused cyclone-like whip-lashing winds, torrential rains and hundreds of land-hugging tornadoes.
Between August 19 and 21 of 2008, Tropical Storm Fay repeatedly plummeted the area. On June 23 and 24, 2012, Tropical Storm Debby pounced on the area with vengeance.
We took the threat of every potential Florida-bound hurricane and every tropical storm very seriously. Our two top priorities were (1) our guests and staff and (2) the structural areas being used for shelter.
The storms in both 2008 and 2012 left behind extensive wind and rain damage to the exteriors of buildings and around the grounds. It caused heavy water damage to many guest rooms; the main lobby, kitchen and food court, and public restrooms; and conference center. Also, it damaged both indoor and outdoor recreation areas including both swimming pools and the gazebo. It ravaged our beautiful gardens, nature sanctuary, and walkways. It uprooted flowering shrubs, bushes, trees, and vines indigenous to Florida Tropics – and the Caribbean.
But every person and pet on the property made it fine.
Everyone there helped it come out better than worse. Management, especially department directors and supervisors, pulled together. They led the staff of over 100 in disaster preparedness, survival and recovery that saved many lives, and the property. They followed a plan, somewhat similar to the one that my sister created.
Major hurricanes – major disasters – deserve our full attention from preparation-to-recovery.
They warrant our participation. They require our joint commitment to see things through.
“This is going to be a very long haul,” said a long-time resident of Lake Jackson, right after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Southeast Texas. An old classmate of my mother, the man choked as he talked on a mobile phone. He and his wife were returning early from their summer home in New Mexico.
SEE THESE FOLLOW-UP POSTS:
Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 2: “THE DIRTY SIDE OF THE STORM”
Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 3: In the Paintshop
Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 4: Creating a Make-Shift Shelter
Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 5: Packing for Riding Out Storm
Painter’s Hurricane Preparedness, Part 6: Securing Inside of Your Home
THE BOTTOM LINE: First protect lives, Second protect valuables. Third, if there’s any time left, protect whatever else really matters, most essential things first.
Major disasters swoop in, then leave.
People and pets are meant to stick around awhile.
Stay alert, smart and safe. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.