The Inconvenience of Hurricane Irma

Holy crap am I spoiled.

For the last several days, I’ve experienced the inconvenience of Hurricane Irma. I’m having to wait an extra 20 minutes to get gasoline. The major grocery chain Publix doesn’t have a good supply of my favorite fizzy water, and they seem a bit crowded right now. Plus they were out of Woinder Bread so I had to walk to the other side of the store to get that darned fresh bread at the bakery. My local clients are pushing to get work done through next Wednesday. And of course, Governor Rick Scott keeps interrupting my favorite television shows with updates and instructions.

How can I be so complacent in the face of a potentially life threatening act of nature?

Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 hurricane, anticipated to make landfall in Miami as a Category 4 at about 2 am Sunday morning. It will likely hit my area later Sunday morning, 7-9am. We’re reasonably sure it is going to hit, but we won’t be certain until late Friday or Saturday, it could veer off. Wish me luck.

If you really think about it and grasp the situation, this is a huge devastating monster, and it’s bearing down on us.

If I were in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, I would be afraid that the structure I was in might fall down as many have before, killing thousands. But here in Florida, we have laws that require the proper engineering of buildings, so I don’t expect to be trapped or killed by falling buildings or huts washed into the ocean.

If I were in a third world nation in the Pacific, I might be apprehensive, not know how to prepare, not know where to go in an emergency or even when the hurricane might hit. But here in Florida, our governor is leading from the front lines, and our television stations are showing the exact plot of the storm. I know exactly where it will hit, where the shelters are if I need to go, and what I need to buy to prepare.

But it’s not just what I see. It’s my confidence that here in the local Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida we have some of the best emergency management professionals in the world. They are preparing shelters, arranging food services (prepared to serve 35000 meals per day), coordinating the Red Cross, police, fire department, the power company, the water company, religious charities and probably a hundred groups I haven’t thought of.

At the state level, Governor Scott is traveling all through the state, making decisions on what to close, what to evacuate, where to pre-position medical supplies and national guard personnel. Scott (formerly the CEO of a major health services corporation) is making sure the hospitals are adequately supplied, and that the logistics of getting patients out of evacuated hospitals to safer care are in place. He noted that this was particularly challenging since the hurricane could change course and safe hospitals could become suddenly unsafe. I would not have thought of that, but it sure seems important.

Governor Scott is also in direct and frequent communication with President Trump. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, with all of its power and authority, is fully involved with the preparations, pre-positioning resources, and fully integrating with the state and local response plans.

All of this is happening right now before a single raindrop has hit the area. My wait for gasoline is a pain in the butt, however the Governor is coordinating with private suppliers to get more fuel flow into the area, so it is not the 6-hour wait that it could be. Yes, water is flying off the shelves, but since we have had lots of time to prepare, the grocery stores are arranging to get more, well before the hurricane hits.

Despite the fact that I am really focused on my trip next week, the UFC fights on Saturday and getting some extra work done this weekend, I really am a proud American.

Because of the professionalism of the heroes who are planning the response to Hurricane Irma, I feel safe and secure.

These folks are working their butts off to save lives, and since they are averting disaster instead of responding to it (I much prefer averting!), they will never be properly appreciated or thanked. And the result is that I have absolute confidence in the continuity of my mundane life, even in the face of one of Nature’s most powerful forces.

Thanks, guys.

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One comment

  1. Great description re. how public/private organizations, from neighborhood to national work together to plan, prepare, then coordinate response. No accident. There’s a defined national set of goals, uniform organizational structure used by all parties and set lines of authority from dog catcher to the President. Result of years of ongoing, year-round effort. You are right – great source of pride.

    The real key is not to rely on any agency, but to be ready yourself. 2 kinds of folks in a disaster- helpers or victims. You want to be in Group 1. The more of us are there, the easier it is to deal with Group 2.

    Robert R.

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