A few things I learned from Hurricane Irma
Now that another hurricane has come and gone (the second in eleven months), my power and cable have been restored and life is slowly but surely returning to normal, I can ask, “What have I learned this time around?”
I learned how to use my generator. I purchased this generator after three hurricanes came close but didn’t directly affect our home in 2004. Through all that we really didn’t lose power for more than a day. My across-the-street-neighbor was going somewhere to buy a generator and asked me if I wanted him to get one for me. I said, “Sure!” and got a 5000 watt Coleman Powermate. For the next thirteen years, it sat in my garage. I never started it up. Never even put gas or oil in it. Since the day I took it out of the box, we never lost power. Even last fall during Hurricane Matthew, we were without power for less than a day. But we learned from that experience that a generator might be good to have. So this time around, I learned how to use it.I put oil in, gassed it up, tested it, and got some decent extension cords. After the rain stopped and the winds died down we were without power for five days, and ran it continually for the refrigerator, lights and fan. Worked like a charm. I learned that I could get about three hours of run time for each gallon of gas.
I learned how much better I am able to keep in touch with most of the members of the church. Even with no power and no internet, we had enough cell coverage to stay in touch with everyone, let them know when we would next meet for church, and find out if anyone needed help. Thirteen years ago there were no smart phones. Now they are the backbone of a lot of our communication, showing us the path of the storm, the progress of the power company, where to buy gas for the generator, who you can help and who can help you.
I learned how to more quickly and easily prep for the storm. Bought my cases of water a few weeks ahead of time, cut down some suspicious looking trees a few days before, filled an extra tank of propane, and bagged up extra ice ahead of time. We already had most of the food we needed, so there were no rush trips to the store and long waits in the lines.
I learned that ten days of hype exhausts you even before the storm arrives! The media-driven fear and paranoia created panic when the storm was barely off the west coast of Africa. I like the way Brandon Evans described some of the lessons he learned from the storm: “For our society, fear has become the dominant emotion.” “Our society whips people in to such panic that we create traumatic experiences for things that haven’t happened yet.”
I learned that I don’t have to live that way. I don’t have to buy into the frenzy. I can prepare, wait, experience, observe, learn, and recover without losing my mind.