Packing my suitcases was the most extremely stressful part of this experience. Time was escaping me and I grew frantic trying to think of everything I had to do. My blue suitcase contained my valuables: Passport, Social Security Card, My mother’s gold necklace, pictures of me as a child and of my family, and my Xbox of course!
(You can check out part one here)
While all of this is happening I had phone calls and text messages of people checking up on me and I tried to respond to them as much as I could. In case my apartment flooded, I took everything I could off the floor and piled it unto my bed. I took one last glance of everything and began to tear up. I was leaving again. My body remembered this feeling before…
The body is an amazing vessel for this ability of emotional muscle memory. The last time I experienced this was when I packed up my car and moved to Florida. I took one last look in the room I grew up in from grade school all the way through my Master’s program and took a deep sigh. I looked at my room in Florida and felt a rush of fear that I may have to start all over yet again if my apartment floods or the roof caves in. I knew that if I did it before, I would be able to do it again because with God by my side nothing could knock me down or stop me.
“Everything shall turn to dust from which it came”.
We decided to split a hotel in Melbourne, FL which is a little south of Orlando. We spent Wednesday night searching and calling and had difficulty finding something available. Every person that answered said the same thing, “Our hotel is completely booked.” We searched all the way south from Hollywood (about 30 minutes north of Miami) to Orlando. I began to panic because I knew there were thousands of people trying to do the exact same thing. After a couple of hours I finally got through hotel.com and had the representative scan the area as far north as possible. The gentleman was very polite and helpful in doing everything he could to help me. He frequently put me on hold and I wondered to myself how much pressure he was feeling trying to help me find a hotel, because essentially what he finds is my last bit of hope. The last thing he said to me after reading my confirmation number was, “I wish you the best of luck…”
Best of luck surviving
Best of luck making it out of South Florida
Best of luck keeping your sanity
Best of luck staying alive
My friend and I took turns driving as we had both had a long day at work. We left around 6:00pm on Thursday night hoping to beat traffic. I told him, “If we would’ve left 10 minutes later I swear we would’ve gotten stuck in gridlock traffic.” Our traffic wasn’t as bad as what was displayed on the news as all of that was literally behind us. Our trip should’ve taken us 2 hours and 45 minutes, but the more we drove, the more time was added unto the GPS. It was like we were stuck in a time zone that had complete control of us and all we could do was keep driving north no matter how long it took, because there was no going back.
The day began to darken and I knew it was time on Monday evening. Irma was making her way towards me. The roads were empty, the stores were closed, and the hotel was packed. The unusual feeling of waiting for the worst to happen and feeling helpless. Constantly watching on the news the damage Irma had done in the other countries thus far. I kept going to the window to observe the weather change, the rain begin to intensify, and the wind blowing the trees aggressively. Shortly after the power went out. “She’s here” I thought. I laid on my back with my eyes wide open in pitch blackness. I couldn’t sleep even though my body was tired. I needed to stay alert in case we needed to run out the room. The sound of that wind hitting against the hotel was so intense. I will never forget that constant howling wind with a mission to blow us away. I am happy to report that we made it through with no damages or injuries. My apartment did not flood and my car was okay. I was out of power, running water, and had no food in my house for about a week, but God provided for me to have several friends who welcomed me into their home.
Although I have no family in Florida, I can say that I felt completely supported throughout the experience. I could close my eyes and feel hundreds of friends with their hand on my back supporting me. I did not feel alone. I had people from all walks of life reach out to check up on me. I had people donate money to me to help cover gas and food. Thank you to all of those who made sacrifices to help me in my time of need. Every single dollar helped!
I would like to especially thank my dear friend Cassie.
Thank you. Thank you for offering your home to me as safety. Thank you for calling me every couple of hours to check on my progress. Thank you for setting up a chat to keep our other close friends updated. Thank you for validating every decision I made. Thank you for allowing me to break down and be weak for a second as you held me up. Thank you for thinking clearly on my behalf. You are a phenomenal woman and dear, dear friend. I love you so very much and every single call or text from you was always right on time and always reassuring. I felt as though you were right there by my side. I am beyond extremely grateful for you! THANK YOU!!!!