I live in Merritt Island, FL. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a nice little barrier island just between Cocoa Beach and Cocoa, FL. North of Melbourne and south of Daytona Beach. Or, yes, the little red dot…We’re about two feet above sea level and surrounded by tributaries, inlets, creeks…it’s an island, you get the point. Last year, Hurricane Matthew nearly brought us to our knees but there was a word that the meteorologists ended up using probably at least one time per minute for about twenty four hours. That word was “wiggle.” Yup. Hurricane Matthew, “wiggled,” away from Brevard County, FL just enough to spare us from the more severe damage we had expected. We were told at one point that all of our houses would be under about six feet of water. My house had a few bumps and bruises but overall nothing to get upset over.
It’s safe to say that many of the locals feel it will happen again this time as well. See, Kennedy Space Center/Cape Kennedy/Cape Canaveral, whatever you want to call it, was built where it is for a few specific reasons and I believe one of them is because Florida being a peninsula has a tendency to break up hurricanes riiiight about where it’s located. That would be why Miami, Tampa, Key West etc tend to get nailed but you rarely hear of St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach etc getting really beat up by hurricanes a whole lot. I mean, yes it happens but when somebody says “Hurricane Andrew,” for the most part, images of devastation runs through your head and I can’t think of any hurricanes that have affected areas north of there that extreme.
I fear this is different. Irma is massive and I honestly don’t really think it matters where in the state you’re located this time. Texas just got it’s ass handed to her and I fear Florida isn’t going to be a whole lot different. I hear some locals saying they’re going to “ride it out,” “it’s not my first and won’t be my last.” Eh…I fear it could be to be completely honest with you. Keep in mind, this ain’t my first rodeo folks. I’m a Floridian born and raised. I’ve gone through plenty of hurricanes including the year of hell in 2004.
There are a few possibilities here. The first is that due to the current situation in Texas, everybody is just going a little nuts about it and meteorologists and the news is going overboard thus causing a frenzy here.
The second is that this is a massive category five hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph moving at a slow rate of speed and just about every forecast and piece of Italian food on my TV shows that it’s going to be a destructive force no matter where it ends up going due to it’s sheer size and strength.
I tend to follow the latter way of thinking on the subject.
Unfortunately, my loving family seems to disagree. Typically, by the time a category three hurricane hits a place like Orlando, there’s not much to worry about. Lot of rain, maybe you lose power, it’s annoying. We used to throw hurricane parties for that kind of thing and get excited about missing a few days of work. But this…this is so very different and I just don’t understand how my family doesn’t see it. We’re obviously evacuating the island, there’s no doubt there but my grandparents are staying in Orlando, big mistake when you’re in your 80’s and in my humble opinion it’s quite likely you won’t have power for at least a week…I hope I’m wrong. My dad with his cancer is not exactly up to par with his own health and has no business being in the heat and humidity if we lose power for that length of time either. I have friends in low places, and high places and northern places! All willing to take us in and yet, here we stay.
My biggest pet peeve as a caregiver: indecision.
I am a decision maker. I make a plan of action and I follow it – even if it’s wrong. Maybe not so much about small, petty things in life or a direction I want to go in life but we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people making a mass exodus out of a state and all I hear is “we’ll wait another day and see where it goes.” Sorry, it’s too late now! It’s Wednesday and we’ll be feeling this thing by Saturday even if they say it won’t be until Sunday or Monday, trust me, the psychological impact it will have on people, the chaos, the stress…Saturday is D-Day. If not Friday even.
I just got off the phone with my sister and we were joking around about how I was voted off the island. An obvious “Survivor,” reference and my response was “Gin, I’m not even allowed to play the game.” Earlier tonight to show my distaste for such uh, disinterest or lack of decision making, I packed all my clothes, emergency equipment, guns (you’d better believe it) laptop, iMac, everything and had it out in the living room ready to go so I could take inventory before I got on the road to head for Georgia as I was not gonna stay with these crazy people and the response I got was “You’re over reacting.”
I wasn’t actually planning on leaving. I was trying to get an emotional response. I was trying to impress upon my dad the seriousness of the situation, let’s do something, let’s make something happen here. We can’t just sit here and “hope for the best.” Orlando is not going to be a safe enough place for two octogenarians and a cancer patient. But I suppose that ship has passed.
Just a few minutes before writing this blog it occurred to me that I am irrelevant to the decision making process as to the location and safety of my loved ones. All I can do is remember that I am a caregiver and I can make sure that I am 1. Not gonna lose it because I came close. 2. Ready to handle whatever comes at me. 3. Ready to take control *when* they realize they never had it to begin with. 4. Make sure that while my family *thinks* they are prepared, I make sure that we are actually prepared.
Examples: My dad bought a bunch of water and canned food, granola bars and that’s great but I made sure to pick up powdered Gatorade and powdered whey protein. I made sure to get a waterproof container with a small hole where we could put a lock through it so that in the event things got really bad we can put his meds in it instead of the little rinky dink plastic box he normally uses. I made sure I bought a massive battery back up for all of our cell phones. 100 feet of 550 para-cord, extra phone charging cables, I made sure to (yes I know this is probably insane but whatever) buy extra ammunition and keep my pistol with me because hey, this is Florida, not Texas. When you’re carrying around heavy duty opiates and you might end up somewhere that you didn’t expect, you may want to be able to protect yourself. Texans watch out for one another and I’m sorry to say but I’m not sure Floridians would be as kind. I made sure I bought a Zippo lighter and lighter fluid because matches aren’t going to work very well if they get wet or get lost and trust me, I won’t lose a Zippo. I bought another smaller waterproof container for ID’s, medical info, birth certificates, etc etc…
I’m not trying to boast about how I went all tactical because of a hurricane. I want to express the importance of what a caregiver has to do when your loved one decides to make a really bad decision. Or, what you think may be a bad decision. I kept all my receipts, I can return some of this stuff if it doesn’t get used but it’s about forward thinking because I can’t change my stubborn dad or my even more stubborn grandparents. I certainly can’t say “screw all of ya, I’m going to Georgia,” as much as I want to because it’s just not the right thing to do.
I’m sure it’s going to be a long, miserable few days at the very least. I’ll have my textbooks to keep me company by candlelight so who knows, maybe I’ll get even better at statistics. If the cell towers are up and there’s not a curfew maybe I can try to get over to my brothers for a half a day or so.
Best case scenario, shortly after writing this I get to write about how wrong I was and make some great excuse about how it’s better to over prepare than under prepare. Worst case scenario, my house gets destroyed. But in all actuality and as much as that would really, really suck, it’s a house. It can be replaced but the people who live in it can’t. I wish we were going further away but I’ve stated my case, made my arguments and now all I can do is brave the storm and hope for the best.
I suppose as a caregiver this is a wonderful metaphor. Whether it be a hurricane or whether it just be getting up every single morning and just living your life doing what we do, all you can do is prepare the best that you can, brave the storm and hope for the best.
Remember, you are never alone, nor am I.