Salute to Spouses Blog

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Staying strong through hurricanes and military life

Watching Hurricane Florence barrel toward the East Coast this week, my husband said:

“It’s a bad feeling when you think you might lose everything.”

We know that feeling, because a year ago at this time we had just experienced Hurricane Irma’s affects on our new home. And I don’t mean “home,” I mean HOME as in the house we had  purchased less than a month earlier.

The house where we plan to spend at least the next several years until our kids are grown and flown. Maybe even the house we’ll live in the rest of our lives.

We live on the beach in Brevard County, on the East Coast of Florida. We casually watched Irma for a week or so. My husband and I both grew up in Florida, so we know this is the time of year to be extra vigilant.

The bulk of our household goods was delivered on Sept. 5. We joked with the movers about how funny it would be if we got evacuated before we even got unpacked.

The joke was on us. By the next day, Irma was projected to hit us dead on.

We had barely touched any of the 10,000 pounds of stuff that had been delivered. It all sat in boxes throughout the house, most of them still taped up and unopened. At this point, this particular shipment had already been in storage a year. The things that were really important were either safe in my sister’s basement in Indiana, or had been with us for the previous year while we traveled and decided where to live.

But yet here was all this stuff, just sitting there in cardboard boxes, waiting for Irma to steal it away. Worse, of course, was that we had just bought our house. It’s only the second house we’ve ever owned, and we were already pretty fond of it.

Stuff is just stuff. What my husband really meant when he said “losing everything” was that he was most worried about the kids and I getting out of harm’s way.

We left on Friday, Sept. 8, when a mandatory evacuation was issued for our county. We had spent the past two days since our HHG arrived prepping for the storm – boarding up windows, closing up our hurricane shutters, buying water and supplies, etc.

We loaded up our two teens and our two cats, plus a cooler, some cases of water and a few boxes of things, into our SUV and our truck and headed to a friend’s house in Alabama. The trip was crazy long. It was just like you saw on the news – millions of Floridians heading north, gas stations ran out of fuel, desperate travelers (like ourselves) slept in parking lots when our travel time turned out to be double what we expected.

In the end, Irma changed course and didn’t hit our new hometown directly. Instead, her eastern bands battered our community with wind and rain that caused flooding, downed trees, and destroyed several homes.

We started our trek back as soon as the storm passed on Monday, Sept. 11. We drove through the remnants of Irma as she passed over the Florida panhandle as a tropical storm.

We came home to find our house had survived, although we lost several small trees and our roof would have to be replaced. We were without power and water for a few days, and school was cancelled for over a week.

But our stuff, and more importantly our family, was OK.

To all of you out there facing down Hurricane Florence, my family knows how you feel. We’re sending good vibes your way in hopes that your homes and your communities will also escape catastrophic damage.

And most of all, we hope you and your families stay safe, strong and secure. We know you will make it through this, just like you do every challenge military life throws you.


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