Andrew was a close call but went far enough south to spare my area from the worst of the storm. Wilma was a direct hit. And Irma was a direct hit. Out of all three, Irma did the most damage.
In the movie Fight Club there is a great line: "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."
As I sat with the electricity knocked out listening to the howling winds of Irma 9/10/2017, I kept on thinking about that line from Fight Club. On a long enough timeline, every structure in Florida will be rendered uninhabitable by a hurricane, especially structures near the coast. My family's home has stood since 1988 and has weathered three major hurricanes. But eventually a hurricane will come along that makes the house unlivable. When that inevitably happens though is unpredictable. It might take hundreds or thousands of years. And how exactly it happens is also unpredictable. It could happen due to 185 mph winds, or a massive storm surge from a storm approaching at just the right angle, or heavy rain leading to flooding (like Harvey and Houston), or even a tornado in an outer squall of a hurricane.
All in all, for many people, the perks of Florida outweigh the inevitable occasional hurricane. Although it can be oppressively hot any time of year in Florida, winters are usually quite nice. Plus, in the summer, it can get just as hot if not much hotter just about anywhere in the U.S. as it can in Florida. And the nice thing about Florida summers is that a thunderstorm will often cool things down. With air conditioning and mosquito control, Florida is a relatively nice place to live. Without those thing though, it's only nice in the winter.
Every place comes with risks of natural disasters. Whether it be earthquake, tornado, blizzard, fire, volcano, flood, drought, lightning, hail, coastal flooding, tsunami, avalanche, mud slide, sink hole, asteroid, hurricane... on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone and everything drops to zero. That's just the nature of entropy and the universe. The universe wasn't made to work.
Monday 9/04/2017 I sent an email out to my immediate family members that said: "The GFS model has us all basically dead by next Monday 9/11." The GFS model had an 895 mb pressure hurricane hitting our area. Fortunately, the GFS model got the intensity wrong a week in advance but it had the point of landfall pegged perfectly. I knew no matter what, the storm would likely get close enough to knock out power, so at the very least I made plans to lose power. The models fluctuated throughout the week, but by the end of the week hope of avoiding Irma was dwindling. Consequently, for the first time ever we boarded up the windows of the house.
Good news came Friday as Irma interacted with Cuba weakening its southern half. But by Sunday morning Irma was looking too healthy for comfort as it slammed the Florida Keys. At that point, a direct hit was looking better than Irma staying offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Staying offshore meant that Irma could strengthen and make for massive storm surge. The storm surge potential was high enough that it could have flooded the house. Wind was better than flood.
By the time the power went out at 11 am Sunday 9/10, it was clear that a direct hit was the most likely scenario. At that point, all communication with the outside world ceased to work except for the radio. At 3:30 pm the radio let me know Irma was coming on shore at Marco Island, just twelve miles to the south of me. Things started getting more and more intense from that point on. The winds got even stronger and the rains got even heavier. Trees were falling and breaking left and right.
I figured the worst of the storm, the eye wall, would last about 15 minutes, but the storm wasn't moving very fast and after 35 minutes I started getting worried. My worry came from watching the water in the back of the house and in the front of the house rise higher and higher. A bit of storm surge combined with over six inches of rain in a little over an hour on top of the five inches that had fallen since Saturday evening on top of a very wet summer had me scrambling to get anything valuable off the floor. The radio wasn't providing the best information and I started to wonder if maybe the storm was stalling or the storm surge was building.
Just as the water reached heights I hadn't seen since tropical storm Jerry in 1995, the rain stopped and the winds started to calm. Within minutes, I was in the eye of Irma. So, I went outside to take a look around. The neighborhood looked eerily different due to the walloping the trees took. I felt as if I had time traveled. In the eye, my home weather station recorded a low pressure of 938 mb.
The house lost some shingles, some screens, and some vegetation but nothing too bad. Since Cuba weakened the southern half of Irma, I knew the worst was over. The back end of Irma brought strong winds from the opposite direction. But without much rain (convection) on the south end, there was little to bring the strongest winds down to ground level.
The hurricane was actually the fun part lol. What followed was five days of hot, muggy, isolated misery. With no power or internet/phone, the most entertaining thing to do was go walk around looking at storm damage, which led to some interesting holy encounters. With much of the region without power, looking at the stars at night was also entertaining. I had never seen the actual Milky Way band across the sky until Monday 9/11/2017.
Trump, Pence, and the governor visited a neighborhood of wrecked manufactured homes (real homes mostly fared fine) a mile from my neighborhood the Thursday after the storm 9/14. I would have taken a walk over there to check things out if I had known exactly what was going on with the presidential visit, but relying solely on the radio I wasn't informed in time to do that.
It took five days for power to come back on (six for internet/phone) and we were relatively lucky. There are still a lot of homes and businesses without power as I write this well over a week later after the storm.
I've already forgiven hurricanes in the sense that I've accepted them as an inevitable part of Florida. But what I realized I haven't quite forgiven is the financial vulnerability of having so much wealth tied up in "stuff" vulnerable to being destroyed by natural disasters. Just the food wasted by having no freezer for five days was financially annoying. Hurricanes are actually quite fun when you don't have anything to lose lol. When you have stuff to lose though, they are stressful. Irma made me realize just how much I'd prefer not to own anything other than money to buy the day to day necessities of life.
Permanence is a frustrating thing to aim for in this universe. Permanence in this universe requires dependence on the undependable. Permanence is a futile attempt to substitute oneness. What we all really want is oneness. And oneness isn't of this universe. On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone and everything in this universe drops to zero. Therefore, save yourself the aggravation of trying to make what was made not to work work. The physical world doesn't work, but fortunately spirit does.