I’m sitting here writing this on my phone in the dark. I can’t sleep. It’s hot. And while I’m thankful for these dueling osculating fans keeping things just bearable in our bedroom, their whirring noise is only compounded by the not-so-gentle hum of the generator just outside our window on the back porch.
Any other late summer night on our country street, you would only hear the wind rustle though the pines. But for the past five nights all you can hear up and down the street is the rumbling of generators. Ours is just big enough to run our refrigerator and a few fans. Any other creature comfort that requires power has been out since a tree limb feel on our power line following hurricane Irma.
It’s been 88-89 degrees during the day with humidity around 90%.
Living in paradise has its downsides. And while Florida’s tropical weather is one of our greatest draws, it’s also one of our greatest dangers. It’s something all Floridians know, and most of us complacently go through the motions of “preparing” as hurricane season rolls around each year. We stock up on canned goods and few extra cases of bottled water. If the weather man tells us something looks like it may head this way, we make sure we have gas and batteries. And if one starts closing in we may even board up the windows just to be safe.
But this one was different. They told us it was bigger than anything they had ever seen. It was three times as wide as Florida itself, and no corner of our state would be untouched.
Even the Floridians who typically do little more than roll their eyes as a storm approaches sat up and listened. Stores were stripped bare, gas was scarce, and all roads north were packed.
And as we all watched her approach, she kept us on our toes. She turned and then didn’t turn, she weakened and then strengthened. As if my nerves weren’t already shot by the palpable tension that had descended on my community, the unpredictable nature of, well…. nature was enough to finish the job.
She came right over the top of us. Thankfully weakened by the time she got here, but powerful even still.
Wind through the trees. It’s always been one of my favorite sounds. But this time it was like something I have never heard before. The house creaked and shuttered. And when she finally moved through and left our state, two thirds of Florida was without power.
When we finally had daylight I went out to survey the damage. I found tree limbs and branches, and a carpet of pine needles. But our home, property and possessions were spared.
So I sit here without my creature comforts, sticky and sweaty to say the least… and I realize that I’ve lost nothing.
I lost power. Something, in the literal sense of the word, that I don’t actually need. Others do. The elderly, those with special needs or medical conditions… they need it. I don’t.
I lost power. Others have lost it all. Homes and businesses in the Florida Keys, Naples, and elsewhere have been reduced to rubble. One reporter decribed our beloved Keys as a “war zone.”
I lost power, but even calling it “lost” is a stretch. It’s coming back after all. They say we’ll have power in another two or three days. And really once it’s back, my life will return to normal. But others will be weeks, months, and beyond without so much more than just power. Without a roof, without a home, without every single thing they owned.
I can’t bring myself to complain. Another sleepless night with a roof over my head, too many restless thoughts, and the noise of a generator and a few fans.
I’ll take it.
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