It’s been an interesting few weeks here in Florida. Hurricane Irma arrived on our radar on Labor Day as it quickly toppled previous records for big, bad hurricanes in the Atlantic. The forecasts (spaghetti models) were ridiculously unhelpful for deciding how to proceed. Should we evacuate the coast? The state? The entire eastern seaboard? Nothing east of Kansas and south of Pennsylvania seemed to be outside the cone of probability. You could almost feel the level of panic begin to rise as people began to make preparations for an epic storm – many of these people (myself included) just had repairs from Hurricane Matthew (October 2016) completed a few months or even weeks before. Gas stations ran out of gas… Grocery stores furiously restocked water as quickly as they could… Lowe’s and Home Depot brought in as much plywood as they could get… Municipalities started texting out emergency messages.
Then reports began to come in from the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda after Irma battered them with Category 5 winds. When all was said and done, Barbuda was decimated. 95% of the structures on the tiny island nation were either damaged or destroyed. Barbuda remains essentially deserted at this point. Perspective…
Irma’s path of destruction continued westward and tore our beloved St. Thomas apart. Their infrastructure is gone – electricity, roads, so many homes and businesses. And yet, when interviewed, people say it’s the price required to live in paradise. They’ve been here before, and they’ll be back again… Perspective…
Irma claimed the lives of nearly 100 people and completely changed the lives of tens of thousands more… Perspective…
So, as I sat here in Florida with 6 days of advance warning to prepare my family, that which seemed stressful and frustrating, was merely a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
When all was said and done, Irma hit south Florida as a Category 4 hurricane. She scooted up the west coast of the state before jogging inland and making her way up the center of the state. By the time she reached us in Daytona Beach, she was barely a Category 1 storm. I’m not making light of the damage this storm did in our state because it was significant, and last I saw reported 34 people died as a result of Irma (and that number is sure to rise). But for ME, Hurricane Irma was a HUGE lesson in perspective.
On Monday morning, after sleeping on a mattress in the master bathroom because of the many tornado warnings that were blaring across my cellphone, I woke up at 4am and looked out our kitchen window to see the Halifax River FLOWING through the small neighborhood directly south of us all the way to US 1. The homes were swamped 2-3 feet deep. And yet we never even lost power. I have friends in Fort Myers who just got their power back yesterday, after more than a week. Our friends on St. Thomas will be lucky if they have their power back by January!
Powerful, powerful lessons in perspective! The lens through which we view an event is everything! Are we doomed or are we blessed beyond measure?
I prefer to believe the latter.
Prayers and positive thoughts going out to our friends in the Caribbean this morning as they have their perspective tested once again by Hurricane Maria.