Confessions About Hurricane Irma From a New England Native

As someone who didn’t grow up in Florida, Hurricane Irma was a new experience for me. Of course last year with Hurricane Matthew, we had a similar experience where schools were cancelled all across Florida, everyone was rushing to local super markets to get food and water or going to gas stations to load up on gas and all the other necessities of life you can think of. But this was different. As dramatic as this may sound, I have never really felt a more “apocalyptic" feeling in my life. 

When you see hundreds of people at one time trying to find a single case of water, you really begin to feel that feeling that many individuals who don’t live such privileged lives feel on a daily basis. We genuinely like to take everything in life for granted which can make this experience so eye opening for someone that has never had to subject themselves to a hurricane or horrifying natural disaster. My brothers and I drove before the storm simply to pick up some sand bags and there was a line of cars potentially three to four hours long just to pick up the limited amount of sandbags they were handing out to civilians at this one location.

Now luckily for where I live, we didn’t get hit too hard compared to places like Puerto Rico and Miami, and even other communities around Orlando. With that said I’m not going to sit here and draw pity to myself for this because I was so privileged to have electricity, food, and water for the entire duration of Irma. Some people obviously weren’t so lucky. 

I witnessed so many individuals on social media who were more than willing to help those for whatever they needed whether it was cases of water, help with picking up branches around their yards, even offering their own homes to strangers so they can simply just spend a few hours in an air conditioned house or even take themselves a nice warm shower. My stepmom allowed a coworker with her child and dog into our house for a few hours to be able to just relax and breathe without feeling overheated and just overall a mess from what this disaster has caused to some families and their homes.

Being someone that has spent most of my life up north where hurricanes aren’t so common, Irma has really drawn attention to how easily things can turn around on people just going about their every day lives, making a living, going to school or whatever else they may be doing. Although there have been so many horrifying incidents to come out of this disaster, I have also never seen a community of people more willing to go out of their way to help rebuild and fix what was there before Irma hit. We have seen so many Hollywood movies about disasters and other related tragedies that make it seem like everyone is out for themselves in these situations, however that is far from the case. People are more than willing to put out a helping hand to those in need.

One of the best parts about all of this were the memes posted on Facebook that many Floridians “participated” in to keep people calm and collected in this time of disaster. Even with these memes, people are still going to be worried about their property as well as their loved ones, but this was a way of keeping a community together in a time of anxiety and distress. 

At the end of the day it is vital to remember not to take life for granted and all these privileges we take advantage of every day. Coming to Florida and experiencing this tragic event only opened my eyes to how devastating life could become at the blink of an eye. It is important to be willing to help others and be grateful for those small things in life we take for granted. To conclude I just wanted to mention that my heart goes out to those that were tragically affected by Irma and I wish you and your loved ones the best in a speedy recovery through this unfortunate disaster.

 

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