An Aussie take on experiencing Hurricane Irma

CanYa’s very own Jake Irvine has been living in Florida, U.S.A, where he recently experienced the force of Hurricane Irma. He has shared his experience. 

Hurricane Irma

This is a little different from our usual CanYa blogs. But, I thought I would share my recent brush with a Stage 5 hurricane. As a born and bred Aussie, up until recently a disaster of this nature was foreign to me.

Although I hadn’t experienced one, hurricanes actually do occur in Australia, we just call them cyclones. Our Asian friends also have their own name, referring to these natural disasters typhoons.

An accurate early prediction.

Should I stay, or should I go? 

The Governor for Florida called for a mandatory evacuation of certain regions, with the expressed intent of extending that to anyone who also felt unsafe in the coming weather. This included me, who was very happy to get up and get going.

Meanwhile, as the hurricane was due to hit my accommodation on a Saturday night, people continued to work up until Friday evening.

Doomsday prepping

In the lead up to the hurricane, people naturally went a little bit crazy trying to prepare for the worst.

The cue for some fuel stations went on seemingly forever, with some selling out of all non-perishables, water and somewhat unsurprisingly (and to my disappointment), alcohol!

Fuel itself was incredibly hard to find. I spoke to some people who even drove into the countryside to stock up. I saw my fair share of cars pulled over on the side of the road having run out of fuel.

The lines went on for hours, bowsers often running out of fuel while people were waiting.

Everything and the bathroom sink

People were tying down bins, covering pools and stocking up like mad. I even heard someone recommend to fill your sinks and bathtub with tap water as a last resort for drinking and flushing waste.

Be safe on the road

On the day I evacuated, the roads were absolutely packed. In the mad rush of leaving, people were driving erratically, trying to get as far away as quickly as possible. I passed half a dozen accidents along the way.

No room at the inn

I had got out of town, survived the crazy roads, and now I needed to find somewhere to stay. My first destination was Atlanta, and finding accommodation turned out to be a lot tougher than I had thought. Some people I spoke to had even booked their accommodation 5+ days in advance, just incase there was extenuating circumstances.

The aftermath

I have now returned to my apartment in Florida. Abandoned vehicles (some badly damaged) sitting on the side of the road seems commonplace. On the radio there have been warnings about looting and crime in the more severely affected areas, thankfully the worst has passed.

Here is what I have learned from this experience

I have at least picked up some tips – which I hope I won’t have to use:

  • Pre-emptively look at accommodation and how you are going to get there.
  • If you have the ability, leave early. The people who can’t leave early will be the ones congesting the roads behind of you.
  • Stock up. Fuel, water non-perishables, candles, torches, batteries, first aid equipment.
  • If you do get caught – seek shelter. Whether it be in your neighbour’s brick house or in an evacuation shelter at a stadium or a larger facility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Once you are caught – do not risk safety. If that brand new Audi of yours gets swept up into a river, so be it.
Hurricanes are not to be trifled with.

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