In my four years of living in Florida, I was very fortunate in that there were no hurricanes formed during my time there, but with the category 4 storm now passing through Florida, I have been reflecting on the time during my first summer there when I experienced my first tropical storm. I believe it was in late August, the year was 2012, and I was living in Fort Pierce, Florida, a small relatively small town just south of Vero Beach on Florida’s east coast. At the time, I was working as a delivery driver for Marco’s Pizza, which provided me with some good stories that I will share another time. In the week leading up to the storm, a hurricane was headed our way, and having never been subjected to something like that before, I was understandably panicked. All week at work people made fun of me as I asked them a barrage of questions about such natural disasters, such as, how one many people die in hurricanes, and how one might go about not dying in hurricanes. As the storm neared the coast, it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, and I was relieved, if only for a moment.
I had the day off work, but my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, did not, because she worked at a school and it was a week day. I woke up the day of, feeling incredibly nervous, afraid and unsure of what the day would hold. I secretly hoped the county would close the schools so Leticia could stay home, which in retrospect would have meant the storm would have gained strength and would have been much worse for everyone involved. I sat in the living room glued to the TV, watching the local news channel’s non-stop coverage of Tropical Storm SomethingorOther, and as it got closer to Fort Pierce, the fact that it wasn’t actually a hurricane wasn’t doing much in the way of easing my nerves. The sky had been dark all morning, but suddenly the rain started, pounding against the walls and windows, and then finally the news I had been dreading appeared on the TV screen; tornadoes were forming from the storm and people who were on the roads and those in mobile homes needed to seek shelter, which wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had I not been living in a mobile home at the time.
The panic really hit me then, as I had nowhere to go. I had to ride out the storm in the mobile home with paper thin walls, either that or get obliterated my a tornado. Leticia was texting me, telling me that she was okay and everyone in the school was in the hallways preparing to put into action the tornado pose, which consists of crouching down on your knees against the wall with your head down and covered by your hands, a pose that seemingly looks like you are surrendering to the storm, but an effective one nonetheless. I did my own version of the pose, lying facedown on the couch, in a room filled with windows, because all of the rooms had windows, and thought about dying, hoping it wouldn’t be too painful. The storm passed and no damage was caused to me or the mobile home, and I was filled with relief having survived my first tropical storm. I hope that everyone in Florida, riding out the hurricane can come away from their storm feeling the same way I did. My thoughts are with you.