Hurricanes, Food Poisoning & Gratitude

Hi Everyone. My goal of putting out a post every Monday got interrupted last week because of a slight weather issue called Hurricane Michael. So I’m here today to catch you up on what I’ve been doing for the past week.

  • Sunday, October 7th: Taylor and I took a trip to St. George Island to squeeze in one last beach weekend. Literally the second after I had finished setting up the chairs and the umbrella my Dad calls to ask if I was aware of a storm that had formed and was heading my way. Of course I didn’t. After going through Hermine in 2016 and
    IMG_2832.JPG
    St. George Island on Sunday

    then Irma last year I started panicking internally about driving back after the beach (St. George is about 2 hours away) and there being no gas or water left in Tallahassee. Seriously, the town went nuts when Irma was coming and finding bottled water became a MISSON. We enjoyed our day at the beach and indulged in some local seafood at Paddy’s before heading back in the afternoon. Our first stop when we got back was to go to Publix to pick up water for Taylor and I as well as Jody and Amanda (I had to make sure my people we’re supplied). The shelves were FULL of water. AND there was a sale!!! So I bought enough water for the four of us and received some interesting looks at the checkout area (no one seemed bothered that a storm was possibly approaching). After filling up the cars (no one was at the gas station) I felt better knowing that I was prepared.

  • Monday, October 8th: All I could do was think about the hurricane while at work. At this point, Michael was forecasted to hit Tallahassee directly as a Category 3. To put it in perspective, Hermine was a weak  category 1 and Tallahassee was a nightmare afterwards. I also live in a house that was built in the 1920’s and while it’s cute and has character I had no idea if it could withstand major hurricane force winds. After talking to literally everyone in my contacts list, Taylor and I decided that we will monitor the storm for two more updates and will make the decision on whether to leave or stay in the morning.
  • Tuesday, October 9th: I had the worst time trying to sleep only to wake up and see that the track hasn’t shifted and Michael looks even stronger than anticipated. We
    IMG_2831
    Texting from the floor of the bathroom

    make the decision to leave and accept the invitation from Taylor’s sister, Sam, and her soon-to-be husband, Drew, to come and stay with them in Gainesville until the storm passes. We took backroads fearing that the highway would be packed (at this point mandatory evacuations had been issued for people near the coast) and it was erie. We hit some rain, but it was mostly empty roads and grey skies. We settled into Sam and Drew’s home and decided to get pizza and garlic knots for dinner. (comfort food after two stressful days). Then Taylor and I get food poisoning and are literally up all night in and out of the bathroom. I eventually gave up trying to sleep in bed and just set up a pillow and blanket on the floor of the bathroom. While I am no stranger to stomach issues, I had never had food poisoning before and honestly I would be okay with never experiencing that again.

  • Wednesday, October 10th: Today was a blur of feeling awful, watching the weather channel nonstop and worrying. I was scared for my friends that stayed in town and was scared I wasn’t going to have anything to come back to. At this point, Hurricane Michael was clocking in at 155mph. A storm is considered a category 5 when it reaches 156mph.
  • Thursday, October 11th: I spent another night sleeping in the bathroom. I was able to reach Jody the night before and confirm that she was okay (Amanda left town and went home for the week) and she was able to get to our neighborhood and
    IMG_2805
    Tom & I waiting for electricity

    confirm that her house, my house and Amanda’s apartment were still standing but without power. We decide to drive back to Tallahassee around 11:00am and spend the day cleaning up the yard and adjusting to life without electricity.

  • Friday, October 12th: A cold front had rolled in so we weren’t dying without A/C and because the windows were open we woke up to the sound of utility trucks barreling though the neighborhood. Power was restored around 2:00pm.

We are so lucky. I just keep repeating that in my head. Watching videos from Panama City and Mexico Beach, seeing photos from St. George Island and Marianna have brought me to tears. These are just places that are on the news, these are places that I’ve been, places with such great memories and places that I absolutely love. People have lost literally EVERYTHING there and while re-building will happen, these places and these people will forever be changed. I wish that I could do more than just donate my money and my supplies. I want to be there helping. I keep thinking that if this storm shifted just a little bit east, that would be me.

Through all of this, the one thing that has been so inspiring is to see people in Tallahassee mobilizing. I can’t even count the number of local businesses that have donated their resources to the neighboring communities (in addition to their own) and the number of citizens that aren’t waiting for agencies or organizations to take donations but are instead just filling up their trucks with supplies and driving up and down the panhandle to drop off much needed water, food and basic essentials. Even in my own small community of Levy Park, I’ve witnessed neighbors helping neighbors by cleaning up and trying to get back to normal.

Tonight my heart is filled with so much gratitude for what I have and I am going to do my part to help others by donating whatever supplies and money I can. If you are able to, I would encourage you to do the same.

I would also like to thank Sam and Drew for opening their home a week before their wedding to Taylor and I and I would also like to thank Pepto Bismol for getting me through the darkest of hours.

– Melissa

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