After Matthew: Reflections on the Storm

Pearl Girl Cindy Kautter wrote this piece last weekend after weathering the storm here in Daytona. We thought it was lovely and so similar to the experiences that many of us had, and we wanted to share it with all of you! 

I am sitting in my Florida room on Saturday evening after Hurricane Matthew has, thankfully, passed. I am alone for the first time in a few days, as we had family members staying with us during the storm.

I am basking in the peace and quiet as I contemplate all of the craziness that has gone on since Monday night’s staff meeting at Pearls International. Marty opened the meeting with, “let’s go over our hurricane plans”. I’m like, “whaaaat, this is the first I’ve heard of a hurricane”! “Oh yeah”, says Jim, “could be a category 4, looks like it’s heading this way”. So in my typical Florida know-it-allness, I assure everyone that it won’t come this way, they rarely do. Denial has always been my hurricane coping strategy.

I tell everyone that my hurricane plan is as follows: If it looks like it’s going to be bad, I am getting out of town, the heck with the house. Plain and simple. The only trouble with my plan is that the rest of my family would not get on board. My husband, Rich, has dutifully appeased me in the past by whisking me away to Ocala to a cheap hotel so that I can blissfully watch the storm pass by on TV rather than watch it through the front window. This time he would not budge!

My Mother who has lived in Florida for 42 years and has never evacuated for a hurricane would not take my side in this matter. “Oh, we’ll be fine”, is her mantra. My daughter and her 7 year old refused to leave their cats! I confess and ashamedly admit that I am a hurricane scaredy cat, but what could I do? I can’t run off to Ocala and leave everyone behind, so I start getting ready to hunker down… as fear and dread begin to slowly consume me. I went to Winn-Dixie (bought the very last loaf of bread) then to Walmart and Walgreens in search of water, (found it at Publix, should have known, Publix never lets me down).

I waited in line at WaWa for gas, there was a nice lady there floating around with a tray of free mini frozen cappuccinos, it seemed rather surreal to me under the circumstances. We dug out the candles, flashlights and batteries. We dragged in all of the patio furniture, plants etc. Created a safe room in our bed room as we did not have enough time to board up the whole house. We go to pick up my mother, our daughter, and granddaughter and bring them all to our house so that they can leave their own cars in their garages and then, we wait.

The news goes from bad to worse, the media talks about death and destruction. They use words and phrases like catastrophic, decimate, wind speed, dangerous and the dreaded “storm surge”! I spend quite a bit of time on-line looking at inundation maps trying to determine how far inland this said “storm surge” can come and if it does come in as far as our house how deep will it be?

I have visions of all of us up in the attic to get out of the flood. It happened during Katrina, they found people sheltering in attics. I then begin to secretly gather what we might need to take up into the attic, if need be. I ask Rich if his chain saw is in working order. “Why”, he asks? “Oh, umm, we might need it after the storm if we have any trees down”, I reply. Actually what I am really thinking is, we may need it in the attic if the water comes up that high to cut a hole in the roof. Does this make me a resourceful person or a crazy person? I do not know, it’s just how I roll.

OK, enough of my drama. Let’s get back to me sitting in my Florida room basking in the peace and quiet after the storm. My yard is a mess, I spent all day raking and dragging debris to the curb. Rich did get to use his chain saw, but thankfully not to cut a hole in our roof. I am safe, my family is safe, I have no complaints. Now we get to watch and participate in what always happens after an event like this. We help and pray for those who may not have fared as well as us in this storm. We get out and actually talk to our neighbors. The community pulls together and helps each other to clean up and recover. I feel good about humanity, there is hope, I am at peace. Life goes on.

We hope all of you had the same good luck during Hurricane Matthew. Share your hurricane story in the comments!

Did you know that stronger hurricanes are a result of rising ocean temperatures? Find out why climate change is damaging to oysters and the pearls they create by clicking here!

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