It was hot, so hot that the stickiness of the air made everything sweat. There was no wind, no breeze, no relief from the heat. We were working day after day putting away everything for our trip. Following the news, we learned that there was a hurricane way off in the Atlantic Ocean. Just a category 1 or 2 that would be headed our way. I knew, I just knew that this was it. This hurricane was going to wipe The Florida Keys of the face of the Earth, the ocean was going to take the islands back. I looked at Sierra and we started to follow it closely.
That upcoming Thursday we packed everything we had and could fit in our van. The hurricane had grown to a category 3 or 4 and we needed to be ready in a moments notice. We packed all of our guide gear, our extra clothes, everything we thought of value in our van and waited. Waiting and waiting we watched the news. Our life soon became consumed with the weather. Irma was making it way towards Cuba, creeping closer and closer. Still no one at work was willing to talk about what might be coming our way.
A few days later there was a brief discussion about what would we do if we were hit by a hurricane and I told them we would evacuate no matter the case. Our home was on the water, just a few feet from the water. We weren’t worried about the wind, we were worried about the flooding. I knew what was coming and still we prepared for the hurricane. The only thing left in our room was what we needed for the week. Just work clothes and a few things needed to get by.
On Monday we knew the next day we were going to evacuate the animal shelter. With my new job we made our last arrangements at home and waited for the morning. Sleep did not come to me that night. Tuesday went by very quick for us. I helped prep the shelter and put signs out on the highway to get all of our animals evacuated. By 4 pm that day we had done all that we could do and we left. Taking an animal with us, Nina.
The three of us then embarked on a 19 hour journey out of the keys and away form Hurricane Irma. Even as we left our co-workers weren’t taking it seriously and still hadn’t prepared. We drove as far as we could that night. Getting almost out of Florida before fatigue took over. My parents tried to tell me that it was no big deal, they had seen Marathon the last time. There were no words to convince them that this was not something to be taken lightly and we stayed the course. Two days later we arrived in Delaware to wait.
While we were driving, Florida had called a mandatory Evacuation for our Island and The Keys, still others stayed. We watched and waited, our faces glued to Facebook, the news, to all social media, hoping for the best. That Sunday everything I thought would happen, did. Irma hit not 20 miles from our tiny island, wreaking havoc and destroying everything.
Over the next few days we waited to hear how our friends fared. Most had left and we felt relieved, others we had no contact with. Waiting and waiting for reports and images of our home. One by one we saw images and learned of the fate we had escaped. Since we had left early, we were spared from the gas lines, the fights, having to abandon our vehicles, running out of gas, social unrest, panic, we were spared form it all; only because we listened to my gut. Our island did not fare as well as us.
As images came in we saw entire neighborhoods disappeared, boats strewn across the highway, buildings demolished, docks gone. Our home for the past year was gone. Washed away, there was no way to describe it other than a war zone. It was gone, all of it was gone, our home, our jobs, our life we had built in Florida.