Thursday evening: Here’s my hurricane readiness, take a lesson. I go on with my normal life until Saturday, as it doesn’t hit us until late Sunday/early Monday. I don’t go shopping, because I already have everything I need. In fact everyone should be using up existing refrigerated & frozen stock, in case of an extended power outage, unless you have a backup generator. That’s a costly & wasteful mess to avoid, and panicked last-minute shopping contributes to it.
A gas generator just isn’t practical (cost or living circumstance-wise) for most. During extended outrages, most likely you’ll run out of gas, even with siphoning from your vehicle. It’s for refrigeration and fans, as central A/C can’t be run off of most generators.
Crises bring out the best and worst in people. This means many acts of selfless heroism, mixed in with stealing and other acts of selfishness. I can tell you that if you’re caught looting in Florida by the owners, there isn’t a good ol’ boy anywhere that won’t shoot you dead, or worse.
Inland (Orlando,FL) means no storm surge, so the dangers are water damage from accumulated rain (expected 10-15 inches here) & high winds. I gassed up the car last night, as prices were increasing & supplies diminishing. I never met an oil company that didn’t exploit a crisis situation. I don’t expect to have to go anywhere, but I’m ready if I have to. I’m done working for the week and holding plenty of good bud, so that’s the best I can do…
Friday: A major reason Florida is so hurricane unready & vulnerable to catastrophe is its low tax rate. Seniors move down here because of the weather & low taxes. They largely don’t care about things like schools (their kids are grown up) or long-term environmental consequences (global warming), since their outlook is mostly self-interested & short-term. These “snowbirds” also have the money to leave during the heat waves & hurricanes of the summer months. They are watching all this from their homes in Ohio, New York, Michigan, etc… The elderly who live here permanently, are the most at-risk during a hurricane. They are also the most difficult to evacuate. From a business standpoint, Florida has been completely deregulated. These are unique contributing factors to what’s about to unfold in Florida.
Saturday 11:00 AM:
This song is for all those living ocean front in the path of the eye of this hurricane. Storm surges predicted on BOTH sides of Florida, which is unprecedented. This “natural disaster” is global warming under capitalism. If allowed to continue much longer, Florida will eventually have to be evacuated, as it will become increasingly uninhabitable until finally submerged by the rising oceans due to arctic ice melt.
Out west, wildfires burning out of control out. It’s the hottest year on record I’m told.
11:50 AM: Right now in Sanford, FL the air is heavy with moisture. Low-hanging clouds are swirling in the breeze over head. The outermost bands have finally reached us. The ground is already soaked from weeks of heavy rain. I went outside earlier and said out loud, “if the eye hits here, we’re fucked… just so everybody knows.”
12:50 PM: Just got my last glimpse of the sun, for what will probably be several days. It hadn’t yet peaked in the sky (due to daylight savings), and quickly was swallowed up by the ever increasing & descending swirls of clouds. Still no rain, but there’s no doubt about what’s coming. The birds have finally stopped their chirping, and have either taken shelter or moved on. The cicadas are at it now, as the breeze is beginning to pick up. Usually they wait until dusk to rule the evening with their incessant buzzing, but even the insects sense today is different.
A feral cat grooms itself in front of my parked car. This reminds me to lay out catnip. I need all the luck I can get. I quickly slip inside, grab the can in the cupboard, and return to my porch to pour out a pile in its sight. It takes notice and continues grooming itself… then disappears behind my car. She then appears from under the closest car and presents herself as a female. Nice! She walks to within a few feet of the catnip, then turns away and moves on out of sight. Just like a woman…
The apartment complex I live in is modest, to say the least. I picked it for its location, as I work in Lake Mary– about 20 minutes away by car. There is an international airport just up the road, so there are many flight attendants here. Most live in “crash pads” with multiple people rotating in & out. Right now, they’re all out.
The demographic is all races, and defined economically as working poor, or living poor. The flight attendants here are mostly male and (FYI) notoriously gay, so I get stared at and whispered about a lot. There’s very little savings, and few have possessions that are of much value, as this is considered a transient area– a way stop to wherever anyone is going next. Most don’t think about the future very much, as it’s day-to day survival & partying going on.
I knew the biggest risk was flooding from a major storm when I signed this lease. I still have just about everything in boxes, if that tells you anything. It all off the ground, but I’m not sure it will be enough to keep everything that is essential, dry. I’m sticking it out.
There’s only so much you can do, as you can’t run from a hurricane if you live here, because you don’t really know where it’s going to go. You can make things MUCH worse by panicking. Too many people are still driving around, just adding more global warming & energy to this massive system, for it to throw back at all of us.
The garbage men just came this morning and cleaned out all the bins (thank you), and yet there are people throwing their new trash into them and walking away like it’s cool, when it’s really just more litter for everyone to clean up after it’s washed out & blown away. It’s quite remarkable how little people are respecting this hurricane, and how blissfully unaware they are of it’s causes & consequences.
2:40 PM: The cicadas (bad-ass punk rockers) continue their songs, and A/C units hum as background noise. Getting your home as cool as possible is recommended, before the power goes out. I always leave mine off during the day. The air has begun cooling due to the moisture buildup. Residents here are not allowed to board up their windows, and there are no storm shutters. This busy two-story apartment complex is about 2/3 empty now. We are right next to Lake Monroe, which is a large body of water connected to the St. Johns River– which outlets to the Atlantic Ocean. Storm surge could impact us from that side.
This complex was built on swamplands and is surrounded by water. It has a huge pond in the middle of it that is connected to Lake Monroe through an underground spring that runs under Highway 17-92. Residents enjoy fishing there, even though it’s mandated catch-and-release. This is NOT the place you want to be for the most violent hurricane ever recorded, but I’m here at ground level because I need to protect my home & its possessions.
That’s why you stay. This could get messy if the waters start to rise quickly. I believe you have a responsibility to protect where you live (if you are able), unless you are called out to work. The Central Florida Regional Hospital is right next door, which is good. That’s always a priority area, and this complex gets some benefit from that due to its proximity. Every little bit helps. I just saw another glimpse of the sun, then it disappeared…
And why am I talking about the cicadas so much? Maybe it’s because knowledge of entomology becomes important in flooding, as you can see in this memorandum I found taped to my door last Tuesday.
Interestingly, it doesn’t mention alligators, so I will. “If you ain’t a gator, you’re gator bait,” is the local color expression. Also note that fetid waters contain filth & disease. Mold and other microorganisms cause the most damage from flooding.
4:00 PM: Watching the wheels go round, listening to the VU & Nico while I still have electricity.
At the first thunder & lightning, all non-essential electric goes off. The lights aren’t on, and won’t be used except as needed. Charged old Ipod for music, unless I feel like strumming the guitar– and I don’t expect I will. Cell phone needs to stay charged so text only, unless an emergency. Computer use will have to be intermittent, if at all by tomorrow evening.
6:00 PM: My record collection is organized alphabetically, with Simon & Garfunkel – Warren Zevon on the bottom. When I pulled out the banana album, I switched all my Velvet records with a few Beethoven box sets, located up top in the classical section. I hope I don’t have to switch any others.
Pictured above is the record that changed my life, when I first heard “Heroin.” I found it at a used record store in San Jose, CA in early 1986. Their albums were only then being re-issued, after being unavailable (deleted) for over a decade. Can’t lose that.
Hygiene tips: All recyclable waste is placed into a bin, and kept to a minimum. All food waste is stored in the refrigerator, as usual. We have no composting here, which is another mistake no one notices or mentions. Rationing food intake is advisable, as what goes in– comes out. If the power is cut, the toilet soon stops working. Water should be rationed in the same conservative manner. Essential intake only to minimize waste, which will contaminate flood waters.
People shouldn’t run their electrical above what’s needed, as lowering the overall stress on the grid reduces the chance (slightly, but significantly enough) for brownouts & blackouts. Falling asleep early is the best scenario, as this could be the last night of A/C for awhile. I’ll listen to the NASCAR race (Richmond) on my laptop, as that puts me to sleep nearly every time.
I expect to wake up with high winds lashing rain at my windows in the morning. My ground-level next door neighbor left with her elderly mother to seek refuge in a public shelter. She left a few poorly-placed sandbags at her outside doorstops. Those will get stolen by those in desperation, if it comes to that. My neighbor above has visitors moving in for refuge. The first sprinkles have arrived, and they evaporate away invisibly making the air heavier with water by the moment. The outdoor ambient temperature is at least 10 degrees below what it normally has been this time of evening. The cicadas continue their audio dominance from the trees of the swamp behind us, while the pile of catnip remains undisturbed save for the moisture absorbed. Time to pack up my folding chair and call it a day. This is the calm before the storm.
7:30 PM: The sun becomes most visible in the sky at sunset, producing a rainbow on the opposite horizon.
…a miracle of physics.
About to get underway at Richmond, so signing off for the evening…
Sunday 8:00 AM: Slow drizzling this morning, with no wind & gray skies. The eye currently is spinning just south of Key Largo, FL. This slow-moving system is supposed to turn north today, and track the west coast of Florida. It’s now watch & wait.
The local airports stopped flights in & out as of 5:00 PM yesterday. The roads are now mostly empty. On Friday, I bicycled to my local produce stand and picked up some fresh fruit & veggies. I have enough food (perishable & non-perishable) to get through the week without spoilage. Hopefully it won’t come to that. Brita pitchers are filled, with spare water in buckets. At this point, you need to have a plan every time you open the refrigerator, as rationing & conservation of refrigeration will be the priorities.
10:30 AM: Back from my daily 3+ mile walk. Isn’t it funny how you can see something different every day, if you just take the time to notice? Not too many walkers out this morning. The first one I encounter is a gay man, dressed sharply, eying me hard all the way as we pass by. I even turned away and then glanced back at him– still staring in. Boy, he was SERIOUS– LOL!
The next person is an woman in her forties carrying an umbrella, with it at full snap blocking only half the wind & rain coming at her. She’s in a cotton t-shirt, shorts, running shoes & socks, while holding on to her bumbershoot for dear life when the wind gusts.
Next is a younger woman taking her dog out to relieve itself. It’s a terrier and it’s owner has already picked up the poop, and is anxiously waiting for her dog to finish piddling. I give her a thumb’s up as I pass, and she returns a smile. Pets are a problem, just like everything else, during an emergency situation. You have to be able to take care of them, while being responsible to others. Many aren’t, so it’s nice to see someone doing the right thing when it counts most.
Next is a gay couple, or at that’s what it appears to be. They pass in a different direction, then suddenly appear across my path again a few blocks later. Yup. And this is on a slow day, wearing a slicker & hood, with a hurricane coming!
The roads are less busy, but filled with the same stupidity that exists daily. People not signaling, slowing down for no reason, tailgating for no reason, driving recklessly with no purpose, pretending they’re a gangsta, etc… Burger King & McDonald’s are closed, so you know almost nothing else is open. Just a few gas stations & stray convenience stores, so none of these people really need to be out driving. They’re “checkin’ it out,” because they’re too lazy (or afraid) to walk. They will be the first ones to turn into wild animals when things go bad. It helps to recognize them and prepare yourself mentally, since you can feel it coming. It’s way worse than the storm itself.
The sprinkles have now turned into a steady light rain, with gusts of heavier moisture. It never completely stops. When the rain lightens by evaporating into an ultra-fine mist, the cicadas begin their drones. The sidewalks & streets are already puddling up with water & moving streams. This is how Lake Monroe looks at 9AM:
The ducks seem to be enjoying themselves in front of the community pond,
This is only the prelude.
For all those fashionably conscious hurricane survivors, I recommend walking in poly-nylon (waterproof) shorts and leather sandals. Strip off the outer layer when arriving back home, and hang them inside to dry out. Your t-shirt & underwear will be dry, which is most important. You can’t afford to get yourself sick at this time.
11:45 AM: My folding chair is out on the porch, and I’ve already seen the feral she-cat again. She looks at first at me, then the soggy catnip before cautiously slinking by. You know you want it. Cats don’t like to get wet, so she’s probably more interested in rummaging a meal from one of the open dumpsters. I’m sure she’ll find one too. Who knows where the container will end up?
I like cats, so I mess with catnip. You have to be hard AND playful with cats, if you want to master them. That’s not an easy balance, and that’s just to earn their respect. They also require patience & persistence, as they are always on their own time. They are also very possessive & territorial. Like I said earlier, just like a woman.
Sirens are beginning to become more frequent. As I mentioned, there’s a hospital next door. Only a few of it’s windows are boarded up, and there’s minimal staffing, as can be seen by the relatively few vehicles in it’s parking lots.
1:00 PM: Rain is now moderate-to-heavy, continuous, and starting to lash more. The cicadas are silent, while the wading birds are having themselves a day gorging on grubs, snails & stink slugs. I’m hoping I don’t see any of their favorite meals, up close & personal in the next day or two. I’m probably living somewhere between 1-2 feet above the water table. Last forecast I saw was for 8-12 inches of rain. I blaze up outside, because it’s officially “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” time. It’s also time to pack up the chair and move inside.
3:00 PM: Rain is getting steadier & heavier by the hour. No thunder or lightning, just water.
I lived in Mount Dora for 20+ years, including 2004 when 4 hurricanes hit Florida. Hurricane Charley missed Lake County, while Hurricanes’ Francis & Jeanne both left our home (and many others) without power for several days. For some it was weeks & months. We were lucky that was the extent of our inconvenience. A few privileged people tried to prove to others they had learned their lessons, and installed backup generators or converted to solar– for themselves. Unfortunately that’s not good enough, as it will take everyone converting to solar power for us to have any hope of alleviating global warming. In the Sunshine State & everywhere else, there is no coordinated & progressive solution to our energy needs, and there never will be under capitalism.
Among the 2004 storms, Hurricane Irma most resembles Ivan, which was the most destructive of the four. Irma is of even greater intensity, and it’s going to level everything in its path and then flood it. This is an irresistible force of nature, compounded by human arrogance & short-sightedness. Politicians and their mass-media accomplices are already preparing their best PR campaign yet, so be prepared. CNN-to-Fox will be all about: “Donate & volunteer: no politics” while militarizing the disaster zone to punish the population and keep those who can most-help out. The truth of what’s unfolding will be censored, as the ruling class seeks its next narrative to jump on to.
This is the face of class war in 2017. Little material aid (government or otherwise) will reach those most-impacted & most in need. Coastal area residences & businesses will be drenched in seawater & rain, windows shattered & roofs torn off. In short, horrifying– if you are caught in it and live to survive. They’ve got saltwater crocodiles & Burmese pythons to boot down there, so you better have (at least) a sharpened machete on hand if you’re sticking out the aftermath. For those who make it through, everything is gone, or ruined. Insurance says they won’t pay for “Acts of God,” which this is always defined as. Or they go bankrupt, to limit their liability, allowing them to start anew elsewhere. No one asks, “How can anyone rebuild here, when these super-hurricanes are assured to happen again & again?”
It appears Orlando will be lucky, and miss the eye. Knock on wood. It’s still too early to know, as this storm has a mind of its own, and will go wherever it pleases. What is certain is that an east coast storm track would have smashed O-town which (like the rest of central Florida) is surrounded by lakes & rivers outletting to the Atlantic Ocean. Storm surge would have been much more of a factor, with devastating consequences even this far inland. I’m not celebrating, even if it does miss us, and we stay completely dry. Luck is two-sided, and for every good fortune, someone else is ruined. This is only the beginning. Hurricane Jose’ is out there, and even it that one misses, there’s another & another… until eventually it’s our turn.
The moral is: people don’t want to live with a gun to their head. They don’t want to have to make choices that sacrifice their safety & material well-being, just to make a living. We all are being forced to do this by an irrational economic & political setup. Each crisis is a disaster, but also an opportunity to learn and plan for something better. It’s the only way we’ll survive.
6:00 PM: The bands are really starting to pick up in intensity and rainfall. My catnip pile is now soaked from the concrete below, but still intact. I’m guessing it’ll be gone by morning– either washed or blown away. It’s much darker at this hour than normal, due to the clouds completely blocking the sun. No cicada buzz either, just dragonflies feasting on mosquitoes. There will be quite a hatch for awhile, which is another issue.
The “eye of the hurricane” is often used in cliché. Let me describe what it really is. If you’ve ever stood outdoors in the eye of a hurricane, it is one of the most shocking experiences you could ever imagine. The violent winds & rain which have been mercilessly beating down have miraculously ceased– almost instantly. Dead calm, with clear skies. If it’s daytime you can see the sun again, and if you didn’t know better you would think it’s all over. A well-defined eye has only a few minutes of calm until the counter-rotational winds start up again, depending on how fast the system is moving. Everything that was bent one way, is now blown in the other direction. Even though the velocity of the winds are slightly less than the front of the eye, this is the most dangerous part of the storm. It’s when all hell breaks loose, and you just hope you can hang on. You’re that helpless.
The eyes of Hurricanes’ Francis & Jeanne weren’t as well-defined as Irma. There is no one who should attempt to stand in the eye of Irma, as the flying debris & flood waters in its wake are deadly. When an eye of this magnitude passes, everyone instinctively freezes. The biggest fear is if it turns in your direction, because you won’t be able to outrun it. Florida is a peninsula, and you are basically trapped here in a hurricane. Either get out early, or you’re in for the duration.
An eye looks at you. An eye passes judgment on you. An eye for an eye. Everything that gives you religion comes up in a hurricane. Can you see this in you mind’s eye?