A little over two years ago, on Oct. 9, 2018, I went to bed not knowing what the next day would bring. The small area I went to high school in, where my grandparents had recently moved to, and where I had several friends living in was in the path of what ended up being a Category 5 hurricane. For those unfamiliar with the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which is how hurricanes are categorized, a Category 5 hurricane has to have winds that are 157 mph or higher.
At 4 am on Oct. 10, my mom called my grandparents to tell them that if they had not evacuated, they needed to immediately. There was no way they would survive the storm if they didn’t. Luckily, they had evacuated late the night before and were in Mississippi. After the storm passed and my grandparents were able to get to their house, we learned my mom was right—their house had completely filled with water and almost all their belongings were ruined. They would have been trapped inside if they had not evacuated.
I’ve learned a lot about the resilience of people in the past two years. The area hit by the storm, known as the Forgotten Coast, has really identified with its namesake in these past two years. Not only have we all faced our own battles of fighting with insurance and the government to try and get relief, we also felt emotional pain. I, along with several other people who went through the storm, don’t enjoy the sound of thunderstorms anymore. There is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with heavy rain and wind. Other people experienced and are still dealing with homelessness. The number of people using the Baker Act rose daily right after the storm when kids were allowed to go back to school. Being hit by a record-breaking storm isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Speaking of going back to school after the storm, I was attending a local college at the time and was angry when they had us go back less than a month after the storm had passed. Almost everyone was still without power and many people didn’t have homes either. After looking back two years later, I’m glad they made us go back. Even though the whole school was running off of giant generators and certain areas were blocked off because of damage, it was nice to have something in life like going to class. The majority of my professors were super understanding because they had also been through the storm. For example, one of my professors did away with deadlines. As long as you turned in the assignments by finals week, they would be graded as if you had turned them in on time. Today, there are still a lot of trees and buildings missing. Buildings that, for myself and others, held a lot of good memories. There is still a lot of rebuilding to be done and a lot of relief is still needed, but we’ve all come together to help one another. One thing is for certain though. The next time a hurricane comes my way, you can find me in another state until it passes.