Living in Florida, you get the threat of a historic, crushing hurricane at least once a year. We’re often told to brace for an environmental apocalypse, just to find ourselves in the midst of a slightly cloudier, rainier and windier day. Everyone makes it all into joke; until it isn’t. Our gallows humor segues into something very sobering.
Here are the classic phases of hurricane preparation for every college student in Miami:
#1. “Another hurricane? Nothin’ to worry about.”
You think you don’t have to take it seriously. You’ve been through so many potential hurricanes that have turned into nothing. Everyone makes a joke of it. The people of the internet create great memes showing how much of a joke they think the hurricane is.
"Forgot my charger" pic.twitter.com/uRNiwoGj0v
— Cause It's Humor (@CauseItsHumor) September 7, 2017
#2. Hurricane = no school
You realize a hurricane potentially means canceled classes. Every day leading up to the hurricane, you and your friends await that glorious email saying that the campus is being shut down and classes indefinitely suspended. Colleges usually wait until the very last possible moment–but if the hurricane shows a passable threat, that email eventually comes. (Though Irma wasn’t due to hit Florida until Sunday, colleges throughout Florida, including the University of Florida and Miami University, began to close on Tuesday evening.) As I mentioned, in the past, schools usually hold off canceling school until the last possible moment; so, for college admins to cancel so early shows a stirring fear of the potential impact Irma may have on Florida. This to me, was the first sign that Irma could be something wholly different than what we’ve seen in the past.)
#3. This is when it gets real.
Now, classes are axed. This is when you decide whether you are going to be binge-watching your favorite TV show or if you’re actually going to prepare a defense against this hurricane. For most, you decide you’ll just stop by the grocery store and stock up on some food and water. You enter the store and everything is fine until you turn into the water aisle and find that there is no water on the shelves; and people are lining-up waiting and hoping that the jaded store workers will restock the shelves. In this moment, you realize this is really happening; people are taking this seriously, and maybe you should be, too.
#4. Hoarding (what’s left of) food, water, and gas.
No water means you have to find an alternative. Personally, I chose to stock up on lemon tea–close enough, right? Arguably the best part of hurricanes is the emerging justification for snacks. All my friends and I have said that we have finished all of our designated hurricane snacks before the hurricane has even shown up. When every store around you is closed, and you’re cooped up in your house, what else are you supposed to do in this besieged area beside sit around watching TV and eating? Gas, to me, is the most complex resource to acquire. Most gas stations close which leaves residents fighting over a very limited amount of gas. In the past, I’ve waited in a 45-minute line to get gas, and I just thought the whole time about how much gas I was wasting to obtain more gas.
Arguably the best part of hurricanes is the emerging justification for snacks. All my friends and I have said that we have finished all of our designated hurricane snacks before the hurricane has even shown up.
#5. Waiting for the impending doom.
You’re stocked up on the essentials; your shutters are up, concealing any outside view you had, and you have the news on a loop, watching the steady progression of the hurricane. So, now what? Over the past 24 hours, I’ve filled up my time by catching up on some laundry, deciding on which book I’ll be reading, and charging up all my devices while I still have power. In this moment, I wait for Hurricane Irma to come through.
Irma is expected to be unlike any other hurricane Florida has experienced. Floridians gauge a hurricane’s potential level of intensity with 1992’s devastating Hurricane Andrew in mind. According to CNN, you can fit two Hurricane Andrews into Hurricane Irma. Gulp.
No matter where you are in Florida: expect to be affected by this hurricane. For better or worse.
(Photo courtesy of City of St. Petersburg)