Not only is that the name of one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, it’s pretty spot on for the description of life in Florida during hurricane season. Our weather has been out of whack this week as the rest of the country. I really miss winter this year. Of course, I live in Orlando so we don’t have a real winter with snow and ice. We just get a break from the heat which lets us leave our windows open to clear out our air conditioned homes.
I spent most of February alternating between wearing shorts and running my AC to turning my heat on and searching for my gloves. This crazy weather we’ve had this month worries me that we may be in for a bad hurricane season. While I certainly don’t mind the occasional summer storm, I sure could do without a hurricane moving through our state.
Summer storms are quite a nice break from the heat. The summer storms are different than when the big ones hit. And you can always tell when a big storm is heading your way. If you’ve lived in this state as long as I have, you can just feel it coming. The temperature drops about ten degrees in less than an hour. The air smells clean and cool.
Being honest here … I’m a bit nervous about the weather this year. It’s starting to remind me of 2004 when we had three major hurricanes come through Orlando. Most of the hurricanes that hit Florida go to the east coast beaches or up through the Gulf and into the panhandle. But that year was different. It was different in the way where you realize that Mother Nature has her own plans. It was different in such a scary and unsettling way.
It was a shock to the Orlando community to see a hurricane barrel right through our city. Due to the large number of hotel rooms for our tourists, we’re usually the place everyone comes when they’re evacuating their homes. But not in 2004.
We didn’t just have one hurricane come through. We had three. For 9 weeks straight, we spent our days either preparing for a hurricane, cleaning up from the hurricane, monitoring the weather charts and waiting for the next one to hit. It seemed like an endless cycle.
When the first one hit – Hurricane Charley – we were ready with the house boarded up and emergency supplies on hand. We never expected to lose power but we did. When our neighborhood realized we weren’t getting our power back anytime soon, many of us bought a generator to power our homes. It took us almost 2 weeks before the power company made it to our end of town.
During those long 9 weeks, my house stayed boarded up as we waited for the next storm to hit. For much of that time, the only power was coming from the generator out in the backyard. We had cords strewn everywhere in the house and out the window. I quickly learned which outlet would keep the fridge on and which outlet I could use to work on my laptop.
The house seemed permanently dark and stuffy in the rooms where we didn’t install a window air conditioning unit. Living like that could certainly do some damage to one’s mind, body and spirit.
I did my best to go outside as much as I could but even that became a challenge. We were still dealing with our usual 90-something degree sweltering Florida heat. Everywhere you could hear the low buzz of the generators and watched as people cheered at the sight of the power company truck on their street. Those power trucks meant relief from our generator-powered darkened prisons.
By the time the third hurricane hit – Hurricane Jeane – I just gave up. I packed up a 9 month old Jake and drove to Georgia to try to outrun the storm. We stayed in a hotel in Macon for most of the week with other Florida refugees. It was pretty rough with all the baby bottles, formulas and trying to stay on baby schedule but at least we were safe. And we had power.
We were checking out and heading back for home the day after the storm passed through Georgia. The storm knocked out the power in our hotel but thankfully, they had a backup generator to get us through the night. By then, I just wanted to go home and get back to some kind of normalcy.
So please forgive me if go on about the weather when we have a strange month like this one. Its been almost 9 years since I’ve endured the 2004 hurricane season and you can see, it’s still pretty fresh in my mind. And I must say, this weird weather we’re having does make me a bit nervous.
Photo credit: Hurricane Charley comes through Orlando