When you hear that a Category 3 hurricane is barreling towards your area, you know that it is nothing to mess around with. Although most of the models had the eye of the storm hitting about 50-60 miles to the west of us, we knew that our house on Dog Island was close enough that we should follow the mandatory evacuation orders and get off the island. As I got on the last ferry from Dog Island to Carrabelle with my husband, my 1-year-old and my 8-year-old, I looked back as the island got smaller and smaller and I couldn’t help but wonder what the island would look like after the storm – or if it would even still be there.
We rode out the storm on the mainland in the nearby town of Apalachicola. We checked the radar at 8pm and then at 2am the night before just in case the storm started to turn east and we needed to make a last minute emergency evacuation. We decided to stay since the storm still appeared to be heading west and we were far enough away from the water that we weren’t worried about the storm surge hitting us. We made sure we had enough food and water for at least a week knowing that the roads could be blocked and power could be out for at least that long. We lost power right away before the storm even started at 6 in the morning. During the storm, we were feeling pretty stressed listening to the wind and all the branches cracking. Once the wind died down, we relaxed our shoulders, which we hadn’t realized were up around our ears for so long.
After Hurricane Michael passed, it was a pretty depressing situation. The towns to the west of us – Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, and Panama City – were severely damaged. Mexico Beach was practically flattened. On Dog Island (where our home is), 9 homes were completely destroyed and an old hotel which was already closed down due to the last couple of storms was reduced to a pile of rubble. We had no power, no gas, and the roads were either blocked with trees or washed out by the waves. Our cell phones were mostly working, so we could see some of the news which was difficult to watch with all the destruction of homes and businesses owned by people we had come to know and love. While we were feeling a little stranded and depressed, we had to find a few bright spots to make us smile and maintain our sanity.
Here are just a few that we experienced during this whole ordeal:
– 1 –
That feeling of relief you get when you no longer hear the huge gusts of wind from the hurricane and you know it has passed.
– 2 –
When you are finally able to get some fans going after sweating your butt off with the windows shut during the hurricane.
– 3 –
Laughing as the kids dance in front of the fans because they are so happy to cool off.
– 4 –
Eating all the ice cream in your freezer because you lost power and couldn’t possibly throw out ice cream.
– 5 –
Feeling no shame in eating cold pizza in the dark over the kitchen sink.
– 6 –
A cold shower after working outside in the hot sun clearing storm debris.
– 7 –
Enjoying the fresh air and pink sky as you use the grill to cook your breakfast outside.
– 8 –
When you do finally leave your house and see a convoy of electrical trucks heading your way and you know power will be restored soon.
– 9 –
When you are down to your last 2 diapers and the grocery store opens up even though their registers are down and they let you write an I.O.U.
– 10 –
When the power finally goes on and everybody cheers so loudly that you scare the baby.
– – –
I’ve been through a few natural disasters in my life, but I’ve never seen the outpouring of help and support for those who were hit hard by the storm all over the county and beyond. It was utterly heartwarming, inspiring, and the brightest spot of all. It’s been over 3 months since Hurricane Michael hit us and while the tattered roads and massive piles of debris are a constant reminder of what happened, there are positive signs everywhere as businesses and residences are being cleaned up and rebuilt better and stronger than they were before the storm.
To my fellow hurricane survivors, what are bright spots you remember through the ordeal you experienced?