Surviving Hurricane Irma.

Starting with this post, I will be sharing my experience with Hurricane Irma as it passes through my area. This is going to be an interesting experiment of sorts in which I have no idea what’s in store tomorrow or the next day. I’ll be writing a new post each day as the hurricane passes, provided there’s power and Internet. If not, I’ll save my posts as an offline draft and upload them as soon as I’m able.

Presently Hurricane Irma is forecast to pass through my area on Sunday as a Category 4 storm with winds up to 156 mph. Sounds scary, but I’ve gone through this before when Hurricane Wilma hit Palm Beach County back in 2005. I live in a townhouse that faces southwest, well out of the way of those strong winds, so I was actually able to go outside and see the action without getting blown away. After Wilma had passed, the worst it did was leave me without phone and electricity for 5 days. It left a huge mess of branches and leaves everywhere but nothing too serious. I imagine Irma’s going to do the same thing, more or less.

It’s been a very, very crazy week at the home improvement store where I work. I was scheduled to begin work at 6am when the store opens, and during this past week I’ve been seeing long lines of customers waiting outside the store that early for their chance to grab hurricane supplies. One morning the store received a shipment of generators, which were in such huge demand that they sold out in less than an hour. They weigh 200 pounds and are a hassle to load in the customers’ cars. I was sure happy to hear that the generators were all gone.

Another item in huge demand was propane. I lost count of how many times customers asked me if we had any propane, and my answer would always be along the lines of “No, we don’t have any right now, but we should be getting some later.” Normally, the propane delivery truck comes several times a week but demand was so high it made daily deliveries. After the propane storage cages were fully stocked, it didn’t take long before they all flew out the door.

Probably the biggest selling item was plywood. There was literally a long line of customers in the lumber department that helped deplete its limited supply of wood and needless to say, I got a pretty good workout helping load them in the customers’ vehicles. When the plywood ran out, customers grabbed just about any reasonable sized boards they could get their hands on and the screws needed to set them up. Flashlights, sandbags, gas cans, and batteries were also big sellers that were rapidly depleted.

Today was when things got really interesting. The management decided to close the store early to give the employees time to prepare for the hurricane. There were signs posted on the doors announcing that the store was closing at noon, but the customers kept coming, more desperate than ever for their treasured supplies. Finally, some police officers were stationed by the doors to politely inform the customers that the store was closed. I felt sorry for the customers, especially those carrying empty propane tanks in hopes of a last-minute exchange. “Oh, fudge,” I heard one man say.

And now, here I am at home, finalizing my own preparations. I already have my hard-earned water, propane and a full tank of gas. The only thing to do now is ride out the storm and hope for the best.

To be continued…

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