I took my safety in the first few hurricanes I lived through in Florida for granted. After 2004, I never will again. I hope after the problems this week, no one around here will, either.
The tricky thing when talking about the insane storms is that there's such a build up, and weather reports have all these neat looking graphs and charts that make it look like we can divine where the deadline will go. Anyone who has really lived through hurricanes can you tell there's no way to know what to expect. Just ask people in Vermont, who are still dealing with flooding.
My first time being affected by hurricanes was during the 2004 season affectionately referred to as the "Year of the Hurricane." It the year before Katrina. That year Florida survived Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.
I was an intern reporter for the St. Petersburg Times working in its Hernando County bureau. Initial reports had Charley coming right at us. We hunkered down in our bureau and waited out the storm.
The storm turned last minute and severly damaged a small town to the south. I was e-mailing with a good friend of mine until power went out, and I didn't hear from her for days. For all I knew, she was dead.
During the next few weeks, storms crossed the state and took out other small towns and killing hundreds. Cell phones were less reliable, and there were other moments of wondering about friends' safety for days. As a reporter, I drove up and down Interstate 75, and talked with people evacuating, some for the multliple times that year.
The season was devastating. If you weren't hit directly by a hurricane, you had flooding. After that year, I never took a hurricane or tropical storm for damage. In fact, I'll probably be always overly paranoid because of it.
Why do I bring this up?
Twitter jokes and Facebook messages, as well as folks in New York and Massachusetts, keep questioning whether there was too much hype surrounding the hurricane preparation. Rather saying they were relieved, people called a let down and said they wanted see something happen.
Really? If you make a joke or make light of a storm, then you are simply an ill-informed, insensitive, and naive person. Look at what's happened in Vermont and around New England. Also 40 deaths can be attributed to the storm.
Did any of us really want to live through a direct hit? The damage is unimaginable and the death toll could have been incredible.
We've had an earthquake and hurricane in the same month. Who knows what will be next.
Let's all just count our blessings, instead of trying our luck.
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About the authorJoe Allen-Black left the flat landscape and temperate climes of Florida, where he was a reporter and web producer, for the peaks, valleys, and mercurial weather of New England. Joe, More »
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He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org