In the end, Irma was just a tease. Thankfully

by Gary Shelton on September 11, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Monday, 1:15 p.m.

In the end, Irma was a flirt. Just like a lot of females I have known.

She had little flash, a bit of sizzle. She had a  little grin, made a little noise. But in the end, she is gone elsewhere. She winked, and she blew out of town. Not much to get amped up over.

You heard her coming. She was immense in her beauty, a force so impressive you could not help but pay attention. She was going to be memorable. She was going to be historic.

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And, in the end, she was little more than a distraction. And I say that with the highest possible regard. I am glad that Irma was just a distraction. I hope in your lives, too, she was a distraction.

Hey, it is wonderful that Irma turned out to be little more than an ill wind to Tampa Bay. It's terrific. I hope all of you are smirking at Irma today. I hope all of you over prepared, because that's still the safest course.

I say this after a short night on an air mattress, fighting to try to find news on my cell phone when I could. There is something about a hurricane that makes you feel like a ping-pong ball in a high wind. You have no idea what  you're doing, only that you should have done it an hour ago.

I say this after too many chips and too much instant coffee. I say this after a night with no internet, and no cable TV. It may have been the first Sunday night of my life that I went to bed without knowing the day's football scores. (I did see that the Rays won, 4-1. Boolah, boolah).

Were you like me? Did you consider a dozen different routes to escape the storm. I was going to drive my daughters to North Georgia. I was going to ride it out. I was going with my brother-in-law to Tallahassee. I was going to Dunnellon. A niece had a player in Inverness. Every time I thought we had settled on a plan, someone had a better one.

Instead, we went a few blocks away. A brother-in-law had a second-story condo north of me. No TV. No phones.

I checked the weather map. The red cone kept sliding west. Another niece lived in Mount Dora. She would lend the lot of us (two daughters, two dogs, two cats and my wife and I) her place. I almost went there at the last minute, since Mount Dora was out of the cone. It wouldn't stay that way.

And this is the befuddling thing about preparing for a Hurricane. God throws knuckleballs. Seriously, I used to think I was decent when my job was predicting NFL games, especially when you compare it to the weather guys. They couldn't predict a bowling ball to head for the 10-pin. You can drive yourself crazy trying to predict when a storm is going to end up.

The days leading up to Irma were kind of nuts, too. I remember stopping at an auto store to try to pick up an extra flashlight. They were almost all out, but they had a pricey one that was rechargable. The thing is, it only worked for six hours, and it didn't adapt to batteries afterward. No, thanks. I bought some glow sticks and went on my way.

We were forever buying trinkets: water and chips and batteries and peaches. (Peaches? Did we buy Herbs?) We taped the windows. We moved everything inside we could.

Then we went to higher ground.

During Sunday night, a tree split across the street. It fell onto a car. It was parked two spaces up from mine. Whew. The roof came off a parking shelter. But it was all minor.

In the end, we had a little water damage. A tree limb hit my roof. The streets in my neighborhood like like Robin Hood's campsite.

In the meantime, I am hungry. I keep driving past fast-food restaurants and hoping to find them open. They won't be. But when a breakfast place opens up this week, I may be waiting by the door.

We are safe. The wife and daughters and the main dog and the backup dog, the starting cat and the backup cat. My sons (with families of their own) are safe. We were blessed.

A little later, we decided to take a drive, because we had been cooped up for a day. We saw a Chinese restaurant that was open...and it had a long line outside. We passed an Arby's that had a long line. Has an Arby's ever had a line? We passed a pizza place, an Outback, an Indian restaurant. Everywhere, there was a line that started forming back when Charlie was a Hurricane. In the end, we ate frozen fish at home.

And it was wonderful. We were safe. Sure, we were the punchlines in some cosmic joke, but we were safe.

Of course, another one is going to come soon.

Keep the bottled water nearby.

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