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And Now Comes Irma

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TBUTLER

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As the news of Harvey begins to fade from the news, the next major disaster looms just off the southeast coast of the US.  A hurricane that looks like a buzz saw in the satellite movie clips is making its way toward Florida.  There are other states that may be the location of landfall, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi are all in the cone of uncertainty.  So as I write I'm using Florida but this applies to many other states as well.  The damage this hurricane causes could easily surpass Harvey, Andrew, Katrina and all previous hurricanes in recorded history.  Each storm was different, none was good.

If you own an RV, you are ideally prepared to evacuate.  I can't imagine not doing so.  There is nothing you can do to save your sticks and bricks house.  If you are in it when it floods or is destroyed by wind, you are risking your life for no good reason.  You are risking not only your life, those who may have to come rescue you are at risk as well.  If you live in Florida, you likely have a good understanding of hurricanes.  If you don't live there, you should be gone by now.

For those not familiar with hurricanes, Irma is a monster.  Wind speeds of over 180 MPH have been registered by the Hurricane Hunters.  Wind gusts over 200 MPH have also been measured.  Those are unencumbered wind speeds, taken over the open ocean, there is nothing to slow the wind.  As Irma approaches land, wind speeds at the surface will be less, but not much less.  But the wind speed isn't just wind.  The wind carries debris.  We're not talking about lawn chairs, we're talking about pieces of houses, 2x4's, roof shingles, broken glass, street signs, entire roofs of buildings, sheets of metal stripped off metal buildings and so much more.  The faster the wind speeds, the more debris and the larger the pieces.  When any of these objects impact your home at 100 MPH, it will cause damage.  Buildings that are sturdy buildings sustain horrible damage during hurricanes.  You don't want to be in the building when that happens.

Flooding due to rain, storm surge and runoff in ditches and streams will be severe over a wide area.  This storm covers a huge area, states other than Florida will almost certainly experience heavy rain and flooding.  If your home is flooded and you stayed in it, now you are living in misery.  The water is not pristine, it carries bacteria, chemicals, mud, insects, and more.  There is no normal once water enters you home.  The rainfall almost certainly will not be what Harvey brought.  Unlike Harvey, Irma is in a hurry.  It will be hit and run.  Like any hit and run, you won't believe how much damage can happen in a short period of time. 

Following the storm, even if your home sustains no damage, life will be very difficult.  There will be no electric service for many days, weeks or perhaps even months.  There will be no air conditioning or fans.  Supplies like water, groceries, fuel, batteries, toilet paper will all be in limited supply.  Mosquitoes and other insects will swarm over the debris.  An alligator was removed from one of the homes in Houston, Florida will likely see the same.  If you are able to leave, do so.  Do so now.  You can return following the storm and be a helpful volunteer resource instead of being a victim.  Don't wait for officials to order evacuation.  Get ahead of the game, hit the road.  Public officials have to balance many factors before ordering evacuation.  You as an individual have only your own personal safety and your life to consider.

Maybe Irma won't hit where you live.  Why take a chance?  Waiting will only make evacuation slower and more difficult.  If the storm misses, you will have had a trip to remember.  We are all rooting for a miss but everyone is planning on being hit.  Hope for the best, plan for the worst.  Good luck to those in Florida and along the East Coast.

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