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Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Irma’

Hurricane Survival Mode

Squalls out on the Gulf Stream
Big storm commin’ soon
Jimmy Buffett/Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

SuvivalBookIMG_1447

My dad was a pilot in the Air Force (flying C-120s/C-130s) and gave me a survival book when I was a kid. It’s got cool pictures of how to, well, survive if you were put into an extreme situation. Fortunately, I’ve never had to actually use the book—but I’ve held on to it all these years. And when Hurricane Irma was heading toward where I live in Florida last week I was aware where I kept this book.

GasStation

It doesn’t take much in 2017 for the veneer to be pulled back on our modern day lives in the United States to be reminded how quickly our lives can change with the disruption of everyday services like food, water, gas, and electricity. (There are still a million people without power in Florida a week after the hurricane hit Florida.)

Irma Photo

There was one situation last week that I witnessed first hand at a UPS place that I found humorous. I just went in to drop off a return package and there was a lady who said this basically verbatim:

“I understand there was a storm and there are delays—but these are $500 shoes and I paid $36 for them to be overnighted. I don’t want them left on the front steps of my house, and I don’t want to just wait here until the driver shows up. I don’t think anyone here is appreciating my time.” 

True story. Now I don’t live in the world of $500 shoes (I think my last pair cost less than her overnight shipping) and I’m sure she had a a real reason for needing those shoes ASAP, but her attitude wasn’t getting a lot of sympathy from anyone.  I thought to myself, “The customer is always right—unless they’re acting like a bitch two days after a hurricane that has caused major disruptions for millions of people.” UPS/Fed Ex crews, despite their efficiencies, were not exempt from the hurricane’s disruption.

But I do hope she got her shoes. Maybe they were some kind of high end survival shoes that she needed to wear as she sifted through her things in her destroyed home down in the Florida Keys or wade through flood waters filled with water moccasins hoping to find her missing puppy lost in the storm. It never hurts to think the best of people.

P.S. My dad was in ROTC at Ohio State, did his flight training in San Angelo, Texas, was briefly stationed in Smyrna, Tennessee, and later flew in the reserves out of Savanah, Georgia. He died in 1995 and never spoke much about his time in the service which was in that window between Korea and Viet Nam. Love to hear a story or two if you were a pilot in the Air Force. Ever have to use the Survival book put out by the Air Force Department of Defense? Shoot me an email at info@scottwsmith.com.

Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #146 (Hurricane Irma)

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” 
Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

IRMA_IMG_1318

Like a good antagonist there are many ways a hurricane can do damage. The above photo I took the day after Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida is one example.

There’s the powerful winds (including tornados tucked inside the hurricane) that can destroy trees and homes. The storm surge which brings a flood of water. There’s the threat of downed power lines. The loss of power in a sweltering climate that can’t be repaired for days or even weeks. There’s human mischief (like the ex-husband who killed his former wife in Houston right before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston).

There’s infrastructure problems (roadssewagecell phone service). There’s neglect (which may have caused the death of eight elderly people in a nursing home that had lost electricity and air conditioning). There are accidents (several people have died in Florida from carbon monoxide poisoning due to placing generators in garages). And—as if all that other stuff isn’t enough— snakebites.

The loss of homes, businesses, income, electricity and basic human needs takes it’s toll in a variety of ways; physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual.  Four days after the storm passed there are still people staying in shelters, others sleeping in cars, and millions in their homes but without power/air-conditioning (with daytime temperatures around 90 degrees).

You know the damage to the power grid is severe when the closest Walmart to me has been closed for four days. The St. Johns River has yet to crest causing additional damage to homes inland that have never had a problem with flooding. While many have said the damage could have been worse, this disruption—like what happened in Houston— will have a lasting impact for years.

But we’re already hearing stories of hope. Of things people did, and are doing, to help other people. And telling and retelling those stories is what’s been called medicine for the soul. We are people that need stories to survive.

Related posts:
Shelter from the Storm (Dylan)
Against the Wind

Scott W. Smith

 

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“It could have been much worse. That was the grateful mantra on the lips of many on Monday, even as an estimated 12 million Floridians prepared for a dark night without air conditioning in the muggy post-storm swelter.”
The Washington Post on Hurricane Irma 9.11.17

Courtesy of Hurricane Irma I spent 40 hours this week living off the grid in Orlando. There are much worse things than losing your power for two days in a hot and humid climate—say, like losing your entire house or having it partially submerged underwater like others in Florida, Texas, and the Caribbean recently.

I’ll share some photos and thoughts in the coming days, but with my electricity on hiatus I went through a mental purge. I can’t think of a time in the past decade where I was away from a phone, computer,  TV, etc. for so long.

It’s common during those unplugged moments to ask yourself questions like, “What’s really important to me?” and “What do I really need?” The Bible talks about being “content with food and clothing,” but we don’t live in a culture where that’s promoted or honored.

“Everything is amazing right now, and nobody’s happy.”
Comedian C.K. Louis

Be grateful for the little things. Senator Cory Booker’s dad grew up in poverty and told his son growing up, “If you were just born in America, you already won the lottery.”

And so despite learning about the new Apple iPhone X while I was off the grid, I’ve decided to try and be content with food and clothing—and my iPhone7 Plus.

It’s a start.

Well, food, clothing, my iPhone 7 Plus…and air-conditioning—that’s all I need.

So it was fitting that the first movie trailer I saw post-Hurricane Irma was for Alexander Payne’s new movie Downsizing. After being consumed with images and news reports of natural disasters for the past couple of weeks, seeing the trailer for that satire starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig looks to be the perfect synthesis of humor and philosophy needed for our times.

P.S. Downsizing screenwriters Payne and Jim Taylor seem to be tapping into that time honored Hollywood concept of “Give me the same thing, only different.” (Or, “I want something original, but familiar.”)  A fresh spin on a proven concept of miniaturizing people. Swimming in the same water as The Incredible Shrinking Man (1959),  Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), The Borrowers (1997), Innerspace (1997), The Tooth Fairy (“Shrinking paste”) and Steve Martin’s 1974 comedy album Let’s Get Small. The fresh spin appears to be mixing it with themes of consumerism/materialism.

Scott. W. Smith

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“Sometimes you know something’s coming…you feel it in the air. A voice in your head is telling you something is going to go terribly wrong…and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
John Rayburn (Kyle Chandler) in Bloodline

Todd A. Kessler,  Glenn Kessler,  Daniel Zelman created the Netflix series Bloodline which was shot in the Florida Keys.

“We were looking for a place to set [Bloodline] that had kind of an iconic sensibility for the United States, if not the world. Many people if they’ve never been to the Keys have at least heard of the Keys or most people have at least heard of the Florida Keys. Something weird goes on down there. It’s kind of like New Orleans or Las Vegas or Los Angeles, you know, places that people know of.”
Todd A. Kessler
UPROXX interview with Daniel Fienberg 

In about 10 hours as I write this post the Florida Keys are projected to be hit with category 3 or 4 hurricane. There’s no good outcome of this storm. There’s nowhere for Hurricane Irma to go that won’t wreck havoc.  We can hope that most of the people living in and visiting the Keys have already evacuated as the eye of the hurricane will go directly over the string of islands on the southern tip of Florida.

From there, there’s the strong possibility Hurricane Irma will go up the west coast of Florida hitting Naples, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Tampa/St. Pete, and Cedar Key. My father died in 1995 while living in St. Pete Beach and he always worried about “the big one” hitting that area because—like parts of Houston—there’s nowhere for the water to go except over land. (The last major hurricane to hit the area was The 1921 Tampa Bay hurricane )

I last visited Key West earlier this year, and was in Tampa/St. Pete just two weeks ago. These are areas I’ve been exploring off and on for 30 plus years and it’s a land mixed with beauty and fragileness. I hope the people and buildings weather the storm well.

P.S. Bloodline ended its three season run on earlier this year. And even though the show didn’t perhaps find a wide audience some called it Netflix’s finest show to date. And it did give viewers one of the final looks at the talents of Sam Shepard—and did a super job of showcasing the Florida Keys.

Related posts:
Sam Shepard (1943-2017)
Postcard #111 (Captain Tony’s)
‘Burbank by the Sea’—St. Petersburg, Florida
Postcard #107 (Downtown St. Pete)
Postcard #142 (Sarasota Seahorse)
Don’t Waste Your Life (2.0)  (Written after an Iowa tornado I was hired to cover.)

Scott W. Smith

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