Before we proceed, I think it very important and more than anything respectful for us to understand the severity of hurricanes and tropical weather. Although this post will attempt to have a humours tone to it, the devastation and havoc that this particular hurricane left behind in countries including Haiti and Cuba provokes no humour in any format. My thoughts and prayers remain with the countries and families affected by Hurricane Matthew, I ask for the Lord to strengthen them through dark times and continue to let love be the light that allows us to forgive yesterday and provide hope for a better tomorrow.
With that being said, we will now revert back to our planned schedule.
Many of my readers like myself are from Britain, so you will all understand that when the weather forecast projects high speed winds and heavy rain, in most areas that translates into wheelie bins being blown over, cancelled football games due to waterlogged pitches, a lift to school from mum so you don’t get too wet and play time being refined to anywhere with shelter. All in all, life goes virtually uninterrupted and let’s face it, it’s a good excuse to cancel plans you never wanted, feet up, tea in hand in time for EastEnders.
Well on this side of the water the same forecast is summed up into one simple word, hurricane. Call me naive or foolish but despite the talk among locals of it being hurricane season and something about someone called Matthew, I figured it couldn’t be that serious and the weather forecast is always wrong.
That brings us to our first step in A Brits guide to hurricane survival.
Step 1. Denial and procrastination (**3 days before ETA for Hurricane Matthew**)
Once you master denial, procrastination comes easy, let me show you.
Denial: ‘Ahh it’s not going to be that bad, probably just a few days of wind and rain’
Procrastination: ‘ hey Denial I think you might be right pal, we’ll get supplies later then’
Denial: ‘Sounds like a plan’
That’s pretty much a simple version of what we did we played it down, we did what we usual do finished work, had bagels and tea, talked about everything under the sun and went to bed. Little did we know Hurricane Matthew was picking up strength to a Category 4 and switching direction to hit West palm beach head on.
The next day we continued on oblivious to the havoc Matthew was wreaking on Haiti and how close we were to potentially seeing the same devastation in Florida. We got the bus to work, grabbed our breakfast and sat down in the canteen to see the news plagued with nothing but Hurricane Matthew, we’re talking live coverage, projections, eye witnesses, evacuation warnings, death tolls and damage estimations.
The jokes ceased and were quickly replaced with undertones of fear, anxiety and question. As the day progressed it didn’t get much better we spent every given chance talking about the ‘what ifs’ associated with such a weather forecast.
The next morning during our regular pre-shift briefing/ Line up, all senior managers were there to greet us with the reality we needed. Hurricane Matthew is coming and its as serious as a heart attack.
This brings us nicely onto our next point
Step 2: Acceptance of reality (**2 days before ETA for Hurricane Matthew**)
As the managers began to delve further into the dangers of hurricanes, the hurricanes they’ve been through, the likelihood of losing power for weeks, low supplies of water etc., it became very real very quickly.
After the extended briefing, we were informed that for our own safety (and I’m sure they’re potential liability), we were going to be evacuated in the morning to a safer location. At this stage the blood had drained from most of our faces as we came to terms with the fact that hurricane Matthew is the price Floridians pay for being able to wear shorts and flip-flops every other day of the year. We were advised to prepare for the worst, stock up on water, food that requires no cooking, fill the bath with water to flush the loo and unplug everything in case of electrical surges.
Step 3: Preparation (**1 day before ETA for Hurricane Matthew**)
We finished work early the next day to begin preparing for the potential consequences and aftermath of a category 4 hurricane. We got home from work, got changed faster than any female is capable and headed straight for Walmart (American Asda). As the resident chef (*brushes dirt off shoulder*), we decided to buy things I could cook that night but can still be eaten cold while at the hotel and should we have no power at home. Lucky some of my roommates were off during the day, so they were able to fill up empty water bottles at Publix (American Waitrose) as the water aisle was left bare by the early birds.
So ladies and gentlemen that brings us to our first trivia question.
In a brit’s guide to hurricane survival once supplies have been gathered and precautionary steps obeyed, which of the following should be activities should be carried out next?
- Procced to slumber, ensuring one is well rested for the days ahead
- Organise and engage in a Hurricane party
- Inform loved ones of your situation
- Aid others in their preparation for the Hurricane Matthew.
That’s right Becky, you guessed, 2, organise and engage in a hurricane party.
Let’s see what you won.
Co-host: Thanks Chantelle and congratulations Becky, but don’t celebrate too long because you’re going to need to pack a bag for a 2-week cruise to The Bahamas, wait there’s more, were also giving you a brand new mini cooper fit with sat-nav, Bluetooth and automatic windows, a set of pots, a meal for 2 at Nandos and that’s right a brand new, retro toaster. Come up and collect your prize!
Despite our planned evacuation the following morning and being in the mist of the worst hurricane to head for Florida since 1898, we threw a party. Let me tell you it was a great party, while rain began and the winds picked up we drank to our livers content and partied till the early hours.
We woke up rough as ever with no regrets and somehow managed to get ready in time for pick up. We arrived at PGA national a beautiful resort not far from our apartment and prepared to spend the next 24 hours in lockdown.
6 girls in 1 room, we went through every emotion, we ate copious amounts of food, watched nothing but the news and Netflix, laughed about nothing and slept out of pure boredom. The resort had planned a mass room evacuation by 10pm to the conference rooms which were safer so we decided to take a nap and let our devices charged ready for evacuation. During our nap, the power suddenly went out, somehow we all woke up and looked at each other in pure shock screaming “it’s time, it’s time”. We jumped out of bed, packed all our water, got changed argued briefly about what to bring, decided we had no time to decide and left. Me and one of the girls marched ahead to the lobby thinking we would be in pure darkness and all the guests of the resort would be panicking in the lobby. In fact we found barely anyone there, power had been restored and it all turned out to be a big over reaction to a very short power outage.
We had to count our blessings as the hurricane changed its course, missing West palm beach but unfortunately continuing its path of destruction elsewhere. As stupid as it sounds with all the build-up we were a little disappointed there wasn’t a little more action, but that my friend is how 4 Brits, 2 Scots, 5 Irish, 3 Dutchman and a Greek man survived hurricane Matthew.