I just received an emergency text stating that we’re under mandatory evacuation here in Bay County, Fla. courtesy of Hurricane Michael. For those not familiar with the area, our more popular cities include Panama City and Panama City Beach. Tallahassee is about a two-hour drive northeast of here.
The evacuation doesn’t come as a surprise. Municipalities have to play it safe and Hurricane Michael looks pretty tough—possibly even tougher than Hurricane Opal in ’95 which struck hard here as a light category two. I still can’t shake loose the destruction I saw on the beach. It’s just hard to imagine weather getting that nasty. Michael is currently projected to gain strength to an upper cat two, possibly even a three.
I hate the idea of leaving our home behind, but stuff can be replaced. In the meantime, you prepare as well as you can. The line this morning at the ethanol-free gas station was already looking bad as I waited to fill up our old five-gallon gas can for the generator. It’s a familiar routine.
Next, I called one of our local home improvement stores, but couldn’t get through. I dialed their competitor and was relieved to learn that they still had plenty of plywood.
Traffic was pretty thick around noon and the store’s lumber section was inundated with people pushing around lumber carts.
A man rolled up next to the pile of ½-inch CDX plywood the same time as me. Rather than get into an argument over who had first dibs, I offered to help him load up some sheets and then he, in turn, helped me. It worked out great. The sheets were priced at $21.06 each but I’d rather have 4-sheet ply than OSB. If you store it properly, those sheets will last for years.
Now as write this, my son has left work and is trying to get through traffic to get home and help me put up the wood on the windows, just as I helped my dad 23 years ago just before Opal made landfall. I doubt that we’ll prep as well as him, but we’re running out of time.
After we’re done, we’ll load up the truck with pets and some of our favorite possessions and head up north slightly to a much stronger house with a specially built storm room.
Looking out the window now, the sun is shining and there’s just a slight breeze blowing around Spanish moss in these old, majestic oaks. It’s hard to imagine one of these giants falling and crushing a home or car, but it has happened. We’ve been blessed for decades, but you never know when your number’s up. To date, our house has survived unscathed through Hurricanes Eloise, Kate, Opal and Ivan.
The sounds of a storm are the worst. During Ivan, the roof made noises that no roof should make and the old oaks creaked and dropped limbs like small bombs. Some would hit the lawn with a loud thud while others would strike the roof making you wonder if they had finally punched their way through.
My phone just went off again. Got a text from Bay County Emergency Management saying that we’re now under a hurricane warning and that one of the schools has been opened as a shelter. Time to double-check the list and get the air mattresses out of the garage. We’ll continue getting stories out this week in HWT, and if you’re in the storm’s path, stay safe and don’t take unnecessary risks.