Ah, Florida. The Sunshine State. When we think of Florida, we often think of a paradise with clear skies and 80 degree temperatures—which is exactly what I experienced when I visited last summer. We think of the place that some people—“snowbirds,” we might call them—migrate to in an effort to escape the harsh, unbearable Maine winter climate. The allure of Florida comes from its reputation as an unreal utopia with perfect weather. This mental image makes it very difficult to picture such a place in a state of disaster.
Once informed of the Hurricane, residents of Florida immediately flocked to gas stations and grocery stores to prepare for the calamity. Danielle Zuviv of Boca Raton, Florida says, “Up to a week and a half before the storm, lines for gas were at least half a mile long. As soon as people heard that the storm was headed toward Florida, they began to prepare themselves. All of the shelves at grocery stores were completely empty three or four days before the storm.”
While Hurricane Irma was not as powerful as we had originally predicted it to be, the storm still managed to ravage the paradise known as Florida. Miami has been completely flooded, only granting entry to emergency service personnel. Fortunately, Boca Raton was not as greatly affected. The storm, however, still caused chaos in the area. Zuviv informed me that “the streets are all full of debris from trees falling. I had to make six or seven U-turns just to get around them.” Another result of the storm in Boca Raton is that all stoplights have ceased working. “People stop for each other,” Zuviv says, “In a way, it demonstrates how society tends to come together in times of need. Instead of working against each other when there are two hundred people at a broken stoplight, people work together to create their own flow of traffic.”
In other areas, the storm was extremely powerful, leaving more than 60 percent of homes and businesses powerless, according to CNBC. In Boca Raton, Zuviv has been without power for days. “The one thing that really surprised me,” she said, “is that I didn’t realize how difficult it can be to not have air conditioning and electricity. The storm has really caused me to appreciate these things that I might take for granted otherwise. It’s hard sleeping without air conditioning in 95 degree weather. I was so young during Hurricane Wilma in 2005 that I didn’t think about these things.” Many businesses, including airports and government buildings, have been forced to close due to the lack of power and physical damages. According to ABC News, the storm taken at least ten lives. In Jacksonville, Florida, the flood waters have been predicted to last at least a week without subsiding. This causes great difficulty for Florida, as they are not able to completely repair the damages while the streets are still flooded.
As Hurricane Irma approaches the north, we hope that it becomes less powerful and more manageable. The Hurricane is predicted to turn into a tropical storm, but could still be very dangerous. Monetary and physical assistance are being sent to those affected by the Hurricane.