Thursday, September 14, 2017

The One In Which We Survive A Hurricane (And Being Trapped In A Bathroom With Clayton)

On Monday, while shopping at Target with Savannah for a few items, I pushed my cart down the drink aisle. There were several people standing there, looks of confusion, desperation, and ultimately disappointment on their faces while staring at the empty shelves that ordinarily house cases of water. An employee stood in the aisle having unloaded the last of his stock from the flatbed.

"Big sale on water?" I joked.

"I told you I heard there was going to be a big category 6 hurricane that wipes out all of Florida!" Savannah reminded me that she'd informed me of this the day before. My reply at the time was, "I'm pretty sure 5 is as high as it goes, and there aren't any hurricanes near us. Was it a drunk, homeless, crazy man on the street who told you this?"

Now just a day later, there was a run on water in the stores. I, along with the entire population of the state of Florida spent that entire week running from store to store after work, trying to get water, non-perishable food, propane, and batteries, all while freaking out about the fact that gasoline was hard to come by, and when you were lucky enough to find it, you had to wait in a long line to pump it.

On Friday, the day before the hurricane was supposed to hit us, my kids and I headed over to a local middle school that had been set up as a back-up shelter in case the high schools filled to capacity. At the time we were there, they weren't taking people, but directing them to the high schools instead. Still, people from FEMA and the National Guard were there in preparation of the hurricane, and in case the need for more shelters arose. My kids along with some my friend's kids got to run around and play in the gym which was awesome since we were anticipating a few days stuck inside without electricity. The National Guard guys and girl challenged the kids to a game of dodgeball. (The kids won!)

Saturday we stayed home while it rained on and off all afternoon. Around 9:00pm I was alerted to the fact that Irma had shifted yet again and was now heading toward central Florida, or more specifically, the Orange/Lake County lines. In other words, exactly where I live. Because of this new forecast, and the nonstop tornado warnings for our area, I decided it would be in our best interest to hang out in our bathroom away from windows and exterior walls. You might recall, while replacing siding last year, the workers knocked holes in my apartment walls. I could see outside from the holes in my apartment! And this happened while simply doing some work on the siding. Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of faith in the construction of this place.

Around this time I started freaking out. Like full-blown panic attack freaking out. That's not like me. I'm more of a roll-with-the-punches sort of person. But the unknown can be debilitatingly scary. My friend Gladys texted me and admitted that she'd had a bit of a panic/crying attack before grabbing her Jesus Calling devotional. As she reread through the entries for September, her fears were calmed and things were put into perspective. As soon as I finished the game of Scrabble the kids and I were playing, I grabbed my copy and reread through September myself. Sometimes we need those reminders that we are not in control, and we need to depend on God.

As I was reading, Clay and Brooklyn removed all the couch cushions and gathered up every pillow and blanket they could find and piled them in the bathroom. They also grabbed a bunch of Oreos and Reese's peanut butter cups healthy, nutritious food to sustain us while we were in there. Around 11:00pm, we piled into the bathroom. Once in, we couldn't open the door what with all the couch cushions on the floor. By 11:30, the power went out. The hard-wired smoke alarm started chirping and Clay asked if he could punch it.

"Um no. First off, you can't even get out of the bathroom. Secondly, punching it won't stop it. And lastly, if you don't stop farting and chomping on ice, you are going to be under mandatory evacuation."

We nodded off here and there, but being crammed in a small bathroom with no AC (4 people can sure heat up a little space quickly!) and listening to the smoke alarm wasn't really conducive to rest.

At some point, the smoke alarm stopped chirping and started a steady squealing that didn't stop.

"Okay Clay, you can punch it now."

We pushed the cushions away from the door enough that we were able to squeeze out. Clay literally tried to punch the alarm. 

"Noooo, don't punch it!"

"You said I could punch it."

"I know. I'm sorry. I didn't really mean punch it. I meant disable it!"

We managed to get the alarm unplugged all while hearing the wind absolutely howling outside. Scary noises filled the air as I took a quick look out the window into complete darkness. As uncomfortable as being smashed into the bathroom was, I have to admit, it really buffered those scary sounds coming from outside. When the alarm was unhooked and everyone had taken turns going to the bathroom, we all filed back inside for a couple more hours.

A little after 3:00am, when the worst had passed us, we staggered outside the bathroom into the relative coolness of the apartment and tried to sleep in our own beds. It was honestly a toss-up between the discomfort of the bathroom and the terrifying sound of the wind from outside.

What I learned from this experience:

1. Try to keep flashlights and batteries on hand before hurricanes approach.
2.  If you have kids, for some reason this is impossible to do.
3.  Hurricanes are scary.
4.  Being trapped in a bathroom with 3 kids for hours on end is scary.
5.  Driving through town when half the traffic lights are out is the scariest of all.
6.  There are still 2 1/2 more months in hurricane season.
7.  The next names for this season are Lee and Maria.
8.  Remembering to depend on God imparts a great sense of peace.
9.  It's possible to gain 3 pounds during a hurricane.
10.  My kids are huge smart-alecks. (Actually, I already knew this; it was just reinforced this week.)

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

So glad to hear you're all okay. I've been thinking about you all week. We were hit by an EF3 tornado 15 years ago this month. I joked that I was probably the only homeless person to gain weight during my homelessness.

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