Waiting for Ian’s wrath

Hurricane Ian heading towards the coast of Florida in September 2022 - Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Thoughts from the storm’s path, as I write from Orlando, Florida, in the days before the arrival of Hurricane Ian.

This is not our first hurricane. In our 20-plus years in Florida, it’s likely to be our fifth to actually hit us and maybe our 10th that we’ve prepared for in scenarios that ranged from just-in-case to please-turn-away-please-turn-away-thank-God.

Every hurricane is different. That sounds cliche, but Floridians know the nuances. They make us sound experienced. Some blow through in a matter of hours. Some move across terrain so slowly they take days. Winds vary. Rains vary.

There’s a saying in Florida: For a hurricane, prepare, prepare, prepare. For a tropical storm, carry an umbrella.

Then there is the psychological preparation.

There is a common, uneasy mood that precedes all of them that would be worthy of exploration by a quality writer. Sometime between the final preparations and the arrival, the calm before the storm inspires almost unbearable anticipation. You want to do more. There’s nothing left to do. You want the storm to turn away. It’s not. Local television moves to continuous coverage. The meteorologists have loosened their ties. The field reporters work hard hard just trying to find something new to offer, anything, but nothing’s really happening yet.

It’s raining, intermittently. That’ll pick up as the rain bands thicken and then the storm itself arrives. Ian is supposed to be a two-day storm, and it hasn’t started yet.

Power will be going out eventually, so you’re trying to eat only from the fridge, concentrating on the foods mostly likely to go bad first when the outage stretches into days.

You worry about your trees, because trees went down everywhere around here during Hurricane Charley in 2004, and the TV people keep saying “This one’s looks a lot like Charley, only it’s bigger and moving a lot slower.” You worry about your roof tiles, your fence.

You’re not so worried about injuries or worse, as that’s only a threat inland when you’re doing something really stupid, or when something freak happens, like a tree falls onto the room where you’re at.

Beyond that, you’re mostly paralyzed in activity, not able to do much of anything. You’re not supposed to go out. It’s mostly raining anyway. I tried to lure the dog outside but she wouldn’t leave the house. The house is settled until post-storm activities. The TV still works. That’s where my wife and son are. The computer and internet still work. That’s where I am. Routine life is suspended. Concentration is difficult, making reading or writing a forced chore. Hours

walk. Calm before the storm? More like nervous boredom before the storm.

My final preparations came early this morning with a 7:30 a.m. run to a Walgreens to pick up a last few supplies. Doritos, Cheetos, potato chips, cookies, soda, some first aid stuff, and some bags of ice. Don’t judge. Comfort food’s important when it gets uncomfortable. I wasn’t alone on the streets or in the store. The clerk told me they were closing at noon. Yet, while I stood there, she got a text informing her to close at 9 a.m. instead. Then she took a call from her mom. The clerk is middle-aged, and was clearly worried about her mom.

Our small talk stopped, and we concluded our business with nods.

Rain band raindrops are tiny, and can go from light mist to blinding spray and back in seconds, as if the rain surges in narrow waves coming at us.

Our freezer already is full of bagged ice, so I pulled down one of our picnic coolers from a shelf in the garage and put the bags in there, with the soda and some other drinks.

Did I mention that routine life is about to be suspended?

We’ll get to that in due time.

You’re welcome.

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