Thursday, October 20, 2016

When In Florida...Watch Out for Hurricanes

This week I've asked my daughter Kate,
who lives in south Florida, to share 
her Matthew experience.  
Being a Hurricane Rookie  and 
watching a category 4 hurricane approaching 
 is nothing to take lightly.

Growing up in Colorado 
the only storms I was familiar with were
 the occasional tornadoes that swept across the plains during the summer 
or the winter blizzards that would dump tons of sparkling snow
 and turn our yard into a winter wonderland.  

When I made the move to Florida 7 years ago,
 I remember trading weather "war" stories with my co-workers 
and soon realized that my snow storms didn't seem so daunting 
compared to the Florida hurricanes.

I've counted myself lucky
 with just one Tropical Storm under my belt, 
and even that storm was nothing compared to the daily thunderstorms 
I encounter on my way home through the Everglades on July afternoons.

Summer storm over the Everglades

Starting in June,
 I begin checking the National Hurricane Center on a daily basis, 
wondering which small disturbance off the coast of Africa 
might angrily hurl itself towards Florida.  

And then, 
on the week of October 2nd, a little storm called Matthew 
appeared on my computer screen.  
Usually the predictive models shift dramatically and
 you can't put too much stock in its path.  
However, the next few days the storm strengthened and
 the path became more focused and seemed to be heading our way.

Storms a 'comin

I spent the earlier part of the week at the beach 
with my older sister and nephew 
who were visiting from Colorado.  
(And yes, she left for home two days before!)
We watched as dark clouds loomed over the ocean and
 I knew what was brewing out there: a Category 4 hurricane.

A hurricane kit is an essential part of becoming a Floridian. 
 It's equipped with nonperishable food, candles, matches, flashlights, 
duct tape, plastic, and other emergency gear. 
 I double checked our kit and 
found that we were missing the most important item:  Peanut butter. 

So on Wednesday morning, 
before work I naively went to the local Walmart at 6am thinking
 I would have the aisles to myself and 
browse the 100 different types of peanut butter. 
 However, the  parking lot was pure chaos. 
It was like Black Friday only worse 
with people literally running into the store. 
Entire shelves were empty and
as I grabbed the very last jar of creamy peanut butter 
I really expected to have to fight someone off!

6am at Walmart the day before a hurricane...never again.

Wednesday morning sunrise on my way to work

As I finally headed out to work,
 I felt nervous and unsettled.  
The sunrise, although peaceful, seemed out of place. 
 Matthew was strong and powerful and headed straight for Haiti,
the Bahamas and then Florida. 
 I spent the day with my staff, de-installing our Museum
and moving all of the fragile and priceless objects 
into the safety of the vaults.

We were sent home early 
so everyone could do last minute preparations.
Gas stations were running out of gas and
 those that had gas had at least an hour wait in line. 
I can't imagine what Walmart was 
like then.

Thursday was D-Day.  
I spent the morning watching the news in a panic.  
The storm was heading straight for us, 
after devastating Haiti.
(my heart breaks for the estimated 1000 people who have  lost their lives).

Last minute preparations
included finally closing the hurricane shutters.

Making last minute preparations

All morning we continued waiting...

Snuggled under my Florida quilt, made especially for me by my mom, made me feel comforted.

Someone wasn't too concerned

The storm continued to come closer and finally
 the bands of rain began making landfall.
The whole county had shut down and
a 3pm curfew was now put in place.
We hadn't been under any mandatory evacuations
so it was important to stay put and stay safe.

And then over the course of a few hours,
 the storm shifted.
 Its path moved a little bit more north instead of northwest
 and that was it.
  We were left with some rain and gusts of wind
as we watched the storm move away from us,
 praying for those in its angry path.  

That evening my husband and I listened to the lessening bands of rain,
 watched CSI: Miami and
 indulged ourselves with some of our hurricane kit treats.
  We felt oddly tired from the anticipation and stress.
I had never experienced anything like this before,
 waiting for a Category 4 hurricane storm to hit.
 With the slightest change in course,
this horrific storm missed us and
we were oh so thankful!
 The worst thing that happened to me the entire day
 was that my cookie didn't fit into my cup of milk...but
I think I count that a blessing!


Thanks, Kate for
sharing your perspective.

I'm glad your first experience wasn't
as bad as it could have been.
So many others have
 terrible stories to tell.

Now that you've gone through your first real hurricane experience,
many of us here in Colorado
feel that it might be time for you to move back
and play in the snow!
Until Next Time-


  1. Fortunately we don't have big hurricanes like these in France.... My son Clement is passionate by these meteorological phenomenon and last year at school, he made a big work on the tornado of El Reno in OKLAHOMA.
    I'm glad everyone of your family is safe....

  2. Fortunately we don't have big hurricanes like these in France.... My son Clement is passionate by these meteorological phenomenon and last year at school, he made a big work on the tornado of El Reno in OKLAHOMA.
    I'm glad everyone of your family is safe....

  3. That was a very interesting post. Glad your daughter and her family are fine. We were on holiday in Florida when a tropical storm hit. It was fairly scary. I can't even imagine a Category 4.

  4. Fascinating! Thank you for having her share this.
    Can't imagine the stress of the situation and the exhaustion that came with the relief that it would miss them!

  5. Nice post Kate! I am sure you lived it with her Kyle and probably had the weather channel on all week. I lived thru a typhoon on the island of Guam when my husband was stationed there in the Air Force. I remember closing those storm shudders on the windows and how dark our home felt in the middle of the day.

  6. Thank you Kate for sharing your experience. We rarely get dangerous force hurricanes in Maine. By the time they reach our cold waters they relax a bit. I too enjoy a really good snow storm though! So happy to hear that Kate made it through alright. I'd love to hear more about her museum some day too. Sounds interesting.

  7. wow - I am exhausted just after reading about her experience! I'll take snowstorms and earthquakes any time over a hurricane! So glad Kate had your quilt to give her comfort - that's exactly why we make them, right? Sounds like she has a very interesting job there!

  8. Yikes, not sure I fancy hurricanes, snow storms or tornadoes! Glad it wasnt as bad as predicted, lets hope that track record sticks.

  9. I was able to get a can of tomato soup and a loaf of bread and that was it for canned goods at Walmart.

  10. Thank you for the interesting post and so glad to hear it was a happy ending for you, Kate! I'm sure your mom's quilt provided lots of comfort :)

  11. Your daughter did all the right things and thankfully everyone is ok - including that sweet kitty! Always good to hear how things actually are from the frontlines - our news media thrives on twisting everything. Having grown up along the east coast and lived in southern states, I much prefer snowfall in our northwoods.

  12. Oh my goodness! How frightening. Thanks for sharing Kate, but I agree with Kyle - time to move back to a safer state.

  13. oh the cookie in the milk at the end cracked me up!!

    What a great and interesting post! :)

  14. So happy to hear your daughter was safe from the storm!
    She captured the events and emotions of hurricane preparations so poignantly.
    Living on the eastern coast my whole life, I've experienced and dread the wrath of Hurricane season.
    I think it's awesome that she had a comfort quilt made by Mom to snuggle with during the storm.

  15. what a great first person account of the experience. I'm so glad she wasn't evacuated and never lost power. wow!
    loved seeing your quilt :)
    We were hit in NJ it is scarey.
    Thanks for sharing her story and great photos.

  16. Thank you, Kate, for sharing how scary it can be!

  17. What a powerful post. I had no idea what being in a hurricane would be like. Hopefully she wont have any more experiences like that.