Life on a rock has turned me into a weather geek, especially during hurricane season. That time of year, I check the updates on 6 different sites whenever the National Hurricane Center updates them (2:00, 5:00, 8:00, and 11:00). It’s just a wee bit obsessive, though something I’m sure many of you living on islands do as well.

This addictive practice has turned me into Juliette Lowe’s best Girl Scout: am I ever prepared! (What if she wobbles five degrees this way? Or that way??) Of course, my survival-trained Captain Daughter has insisted I prepare for the “Worst Case Scenario” every time a storm is tracking in slightly my direction. This year, I had actually tied our boat lines, like a lifeline, all across our balcony and down the stairs to our “hurricane room.” There were emergency preparations and first aid supplies there, as she assured me we would arrive battered and bruised. (Did I mention it was a “Worst Case Scenario” preparation?) We were blessed that we didn’t have to try that one out.

Every plastic container was filled with water and frozen so we wouldn’t lose our precious food and, more importantly, so that we’d have drinking water. There was a five gallon bucket next to each toilet and each sink. The outside was “hurricane proofed” too – no flying souvenirs from the beach. The hurricane shutters were up, candles and flashlights were ready, Kindles were charged, and we waited…

Irma was coming and we waited and watched. She did her horrendous 185mph+ damage to the islands to our South and was headed our way. Frightened? Yes, I was. And yet we experienced only strong winds on our islands, as she did wobble to create a swath of damage to the North coast of Cuba and then went her way into Florida, wracking havoc all the way.

Here comes Confession #1:

We were supposed to make our annual trip to the US and I actually uttered the words, “Well, I sure hope THAT airport opens in time… we have a schedule to keep.”

Then I gulped. How heartless. How quickly I had forgot.

We did make all of our flights and safely hid on another less tropical island in the middle of Lake Superior. We then watched Maria destroy everything in her path. Again, our beautiful island was spared somehow by the Grace of God. Nothing is ever fair when it comes to hurricanes, though honestly, our people have not totally recovered from Joaquin in 2015 and thus couldn’t be more fortunate to have been skipped.

Now, I must share Confession #2:

We are in the midst of renovating a house. It’s been some time since the hurricanes have passed. And here I was, in a moment of frustration, complaining, “WHERE are our materials? What do you mean the ships were fully loaded and didn’t have space for our stuff?”

How could I forget that the supply centers all over the Caribbean and South Florida were hit? And that the ships were loaded with emergency relief materials to islands desperately in need?

How heartless, to think of my building materials when my fellow islanders are without homes. How quickly I managed to forget once again.

We’re back home, we have a home. We have beds, cold food, water, electricity, and internet. The adrenalin rush of hurricanes, traveling, and shocking television reports has passed, and we now have time to reflect.

Dear fellow islanders who have been hit,

On behalf of all of us who have forgotten your plight in moments that shame us, please know we are so sorry. We are with you in spirit, we have helped where we can, and we truly feel your pain. We are thankful for the linesmen who are all out there helping to restore power, we are thankful for the foreign aid coming in, we are thankful for your precious lives. We are grieving for your losses and we cheer when you resurrect some very special memento from under the sand.

We will make sure we don’t forget you, just as you didn’t forget us when we were the ones suffering. 

With love,

your fellow island sisters

Written By:

Susan Koster

Current Rock of Residence:

Long Island, Bahamas

Island Girl Since:

2004

Originally Hails From:

Boston, Massachusetts

Once upon a time, Susan was working way too hard in her and her husband’s food shop in Florida. She commented to their chef, on an exceptionally bad day, “One day I am going to grow up, live alone, and move to a warm island.” Be careful what you wish for…

She and her husband came to their island by boat, upon which they lived while building their home. Sadly, her husband died, and she had two choices: quit or continue. She continued and has never, ever been sorry – not for one speck of a sand-fly minute!

Having spent her working life with the public, island life suits Susan. There, she met Swiss Hermit and has been happy for many years. Some days she never sees another soul, spending time on beautiful beaches, working with photography, loving cooking, and reading.

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