I love water. Paddling, swimming, sailing, and surfing——bring it on! But after Irma, was it too much of a good thing? We’ve had droughts in Florida in recent years, and now, for the first time, we flooded. We were fine, but what about next time?
Over a week before Irma hit Florida, weather stations trumpeted dire warnings about a storm that would be wider than almost all of Florida. Kevin and I rarely watch TV, but the approaching storm kept us glued to the TV weather reports. And we prepped and prepped. We bought gas, grilling supplies, and brought critical gear into the house.
We went to One Love Cafe to hear the Shambles on Friday night. Then we waited.
The storm was supposed to hit sometime late Sunday night into Monday morning. Tropical storm winds were predicted for Gainesville. We tracked the storm as hit devastated the islands and moved towards south Florida, messaging with friends throughout the state.
By late Sunday night, we knew the storm’s track had shifted, but neither of us got much sleep anyway.
By midday Monday, most of the rain had stopped, and we went outside to inspect the damage. We were lucky — other than a small flicker, we never lost power.
Flooded in! But we were still really lucky. No major damage. As the winds calmed, we took a water tour of our neighborhood. We paddled across our neighbors yard, out to 16th Avenue, and around the lake behind our house. After being stuck inside for so long, we were all a bit stir-crazy.
And then it was time for Dark and Stormies. After all the hurricane hysteria, we hadn’t touched our supply. We could start our clean-up the next day.
The next day Kevin and I emptied the garage of water, with a Shop-Vac and endless buckets of water.The streets stayed flooded for almost another week, thanks to a disagreement between city and county over drainage. Finally, a truck pumped the water into a sewer several blocks away. And we had our street back.
We got off easy, compared to others. But what about next time? Will rising sea temperatures lead to monster storms? As the map below demonstrates, Florida is a low state and especially vulnerable to sea level rise, whether or not our elected officials “believe” in climate change.
We’re mostly back to normal, and a front of cold, dry air will wrap up the 2017 hurricane season. Now, as we look ahead, do we go back to “business as usual” or think seriously about climate change and how it affects our watery state.