Evacuated Ahead of Irma – Orlando Edition

At last check, we will be fine here outside of Mobile. Unfortunately Irma really is a big ole bitch, and she’s heading directly up the spine of Florida, so to speak. We used to live in ZephyrHills, outside of Tampa and far enough from the coast, and the residents have received mandatory evacuation orders.
 
It’s easy to sit from far away and tell people to get the hell out of the path of the hurricane. It’s easy to yell at the people on TV, and call them idiots, and say they deserve whatever they get.
God knows I have done it, never really considering the logistics of packing up life’s essentials and running for one’s life.
 
We looked for the best deals we could. We have a car that gets decent gas mileage. We were smart about what we brought with us, and angled for the closest we could be without being affected. Do you know what this is going to cost us?
 
$1000.
 
How many people can kick out $1000 for a weekend away? That’s ultimately what this is. And that doesn’t factor what we’ll find when we get back. We’re insured, and that’s fine and all, but what if our complex leveled?
When one evacuates, they generally miss work. So the cost is actually more than the $1000 I mentioned above, for most people. My Companion is able to work remotely so we won’t be affected in that fashion, but all the same.
Please have compassion for those who can’t leave, even if they seem able-bodied. At last count, stations were completely out of gas and the highways are completely jammed up and at a standstill. So now we’re asking people to get into their cars and possibly be lifted away Dorothy to Oz style rather than in a building where they can be safe.
What about the shelters?
Those are buildings, not magical protection from bad weather. Bad things can happen there, you can’t take your pets, and it’s super rough living. So that’s something to think about as well.
Now that I’ve yelled at everyone to have compassion, let me tell you a tale of evacuation …
We had discussed this at great length when we knew Irma was on the way. We went through Matthew last year and my first one, Hermine.  My First Hurricane – Hermine. 
We have a set trigger point to evacuate. If Orlando was going to be hit at anything at Category 3 or higher, we were out of there. Once all of the models showed the same thing, we were set.
My Companion found a place in Mobile that would take our animals. It made more sense to go West, but also there was no hotel availability to the north. Now we know Irma is heading North, so we made the right choice.
We planned on leaving early morning, but slept in some. We left at 10:30 am Eastern, and dove right into traffic.
75 was moving, but not quickly. There were so many fender benders, most of which were being ignored. We didn’t see any emergency services except for those accidents. Cops weren’t pulling people over for speeding (not that one could, really, not until well past a certain point). We kept hopping off of 75 and using back roads, hop back on temporarily, find a back road.
It was awful. Once we got to 10, which runs east-west, traffic cleared out immensely. Everyone was going North. Craziness. A trip that would take 7 1/2 hours ultimately took 13 when it was all said and done.
People/drivers were frustrated. Gas was expensive – what gas is available – and food items were gone. Gas station shelves were empty. Lines of cars were going down the street, similar to the people waiting for sandbag distribution.
You know in the movies, when they evacuate everyone, and all the extras are screaming and running around like chickens with their heads cut off? I always thought that was bullshit, an exaggeration. It’s not. People really do act like that in emergency situations. And we weren’t even in danger at that point.
It was Thursday. The storm isn’t supposed to hit Florida until Saturday, and people were panicking that badly, so I can’t imagine how things must be right now, on a Friday, when the highways are gridlocked and more people are under mandatory evacuation.
There are side effects of doing a 13 hour road trip for My Companion and myself. Medications were left behind, and will be difficult to replace. My back and neck, which finally seemed to be at peace, are screaming, and I’ll be hunting down an Urgent Care at some point in the near future.
This all adds up in the end, and we’re paying prices more than money. Honestly, now that I’m typing this all out, I realize how awful that trip was yesterday/last night. I scrolled through my updates between my author and personal FaceBook page and could see the difference.
Starting out bright and hopeful, being ground down by going twenty to thirty miles in an hour over multiple hours … awful. Simply awful. By the end of it, I wasn’t sure if this place actually existed, and if it did, I assumed we weren’t going to find it.

3 thoughts on “Evacuated Ahead of Irma – Orlando Edition

  1. Oh, sweetie … I’m so sorry yesterday was so difficult. I know things may be difficult for a while yet. I’m hoping your home is safe, I’m hoping you and Jon and the fur babies stay safe. Take care of your neck and back and know I’m thinking about you.

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  2. Oh Tink, my heart is breaking of all of those who are in the path of this disaster but I am so glad you and Jon were able to get out to where you are safer. Please stay as safe as you can and you are in my prayers!!

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