The advent of Hurricane Irma combined with the start of the fall term at the college knocked me off my usual schedule. What follows is the sequence of events.
1. After one week of tutoring in the new Learning Commons, followed by Labor Day, Hurricane Irma arrived, so the next week I worked only two days: Tuesday and Wednesday. The college was closed beginning Thursday. I had thought I might drive to a safer community, but when I saw how huge Irma’s diameter was and how slowly the traffic was moving on the Turnpike, I resolved to stay in Homestead and get it over with here. However, I was in a mandatory evacuation zone, so I would have to go to a shelter.
2. On Friday, I covered appliances and electronics with plastic bags, and then put my clothes also wrapped in plastic on high shelves. I packed two pieces of luggage with enough food and water for four days, clothes for three days, enough reading matter for four days, blankets, sheets and a pillow to make a pallet, By 2 p.m. I headed to the South Miami-Dade Senior High School, which had been built after Hurricane Andrew as a dual purpose school/shelter.
3. I stayed in the shelter for 51 hours. The National Guard members, the police and the volunteer workers at the shelter did a fine job protecting and helping us. Some problems arose because many people in the shelter had prepared for the usual 12-18 hour stay, but nothing longer. But since Irma was such a huge storm, it took into the third day before the winds began to abate. On the second day, some people had already run out of food and were getting desperate until the Guard announced that it would begin distributing MREs. The worst of the storm hit after midnight Saturday and lasted into the early morning. On Sunday, the A/C went out and the cafeteria began to heat up, so the Guard opened one door to let some fresh air in. Then people began running out of toilet paper, so the restrooms gradually became intolerable. At that point, some families began to leave despite the wind still gusting up to 90 mph. I left around 5 p.m., drove through the tropical storm winds and rain over roads where trees had fallen and without working traffic lights. Even though my residence was only four miles away, it took me an hour to reach home.
To be continued . . .