Scott Hardie | September 30, 2022
I chose not to write in real time about this week's hurricane that same way I did the last one, because I didn't want one more thing to have to do. So the short version is, we're fine. Kelly and I got a hotel in Sebring in the center of the state, waited out the storm with some very annoyed cats, drove home yesterday to find no damage at home, and now we're just waiting for power to be restored. It took a week last time, so who knows how long it will take now.

Normally I wouldn't mind the outage too much. I can go without air conditioning and my computer and hot showers and so on, as long as I can charge my phone a couple of times a day at Starbucks or something. But our new septic tank installed last year relies on an electric lift station. If that thing doesn't run every few days, the toilets won't flush and the shower won't drain. So, I guess we'll be back in a hotel room shortly. :-(

I feel like I'm living out one of those "you told everybody you're fine but you're not fine" memes. Tons of people have asked this week if Kelly and I are ok, and I've said yes because the question basically means "are you uninjured and is your home undamaged?" But today, after three straight days of stress, I find my hands shaking and my voice quivering. We had shelter but it wasn't easy; we didn't eat for 24 hours, three small rusty screws were the only things securing the rattling door against the heavy wind, and the four of us (humans and cats) sniped at each other non-stop as we were cooped up in that tiny uncomfortable room. And we had it easy compared to a lot of people! So there is definitely a psychological toll to this kind of event that affects everyone, "fine" or not.

Scott Hardie | September 30, 2022
Screw media outlets who run snide, judgmental articles like this. The wording and headline seem to have been softened a little since I first read that during the storm, but it's still written from a perspective that "of course any sensible person would evacuate from a hurricane, especially when ordered to do so by officials, so how do these morons justify being wrong?"

There are a lot of things that you won't understand about Floridians' decisions whether or not to evacuate unless you live here. Some of the biggest:

• There are tens of millions of people in this state and only two interstates leading up the peninsula to drier ground. Imagine if Texas had only two exits and everbody wanted to drive out at once! On a normal day, a drive from Miami to the Georgia border is an 8-hour trip; it's far longer when the interstate is jammed, even with southbound lanes temporarily converted to northbound. On top of that, do you want to risk running out of gas in the middle of that and not being able to find a gas station with any fuel left?

• Evacuating is expensive! 2022's inflation is making it worse, but it's always pricey to drive that far for that long, and to get a hotel room for several nights in another state, and to get food and supplies for an unknown timeframe, all while missing work for days at least. Most people can't afford that! There are free public shelters, but they're miserable. I'd like one of those cushy-ass reporters to sleep for a night on a high school gymasium floor, with no supplies or cushions, surrounded by crying babies, before they write such a casually insulting piece.

• Hurricanes are really hard to predict! 24 hours before the storm hit, the eye was projected to strike St. Pete or Tampa, an hour's drive north of me. That means Bradenton would get the storm surge due to the wind direction (picture the storm spinning counter-clockwise on a map, pushing Gulf water onto us), and since the Braden River is very close by at the end of my street, that means Kelly and I had to make that snap decision to flee to a hotel to avoid a small chance of a flash flood. But the storm shifted overnight and actually struck an hour's drive south of here, so our neighborhood wound up staying relatively dry and safe, and we actually would have been safer at home than in the hotel in Sebring that cost us a few hundred bucks and unquantifiable stress. My point is, it's really hard to tell whether you should evacuate until the very last minute, and there are significant costs to fleeing for nothing. (Think you should flee every storm in the Atlantic that might become a hurricane? There are dozens yearly.)

I don't mean to single out the New York Times, as there were other outlets running similar pieces. But crappy journalism like this illuminates to me exactly how Red Staters feel about "coastal elites" judging them without even trying to understand. The article purports to ask why we think like we do, but the tone clearly implies that we're wrong, so the whole exercise is insulting. Don't judge us if you don't know us.

Scott Hardie | September 30, 2022
One last thing: My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones or homes during this. I have friends with a tree in their attic and friends with a flooded neighborhood, and even those outcomes feel like a blessing compared to the people who got the very worst of it. Hurricanes suck.

Evie Totty | September 30, 2022
I'm glad you guys are ok. We never even lost internet here. I just (had to) keep faith in the urban legend blessing.

But I understand what you mean about "ok". I'm still relying on DoorDash - and it has been rough lately as it is.

And they "closed" Tuesday at 9 and will not reopen until Wednesday. So I sit here panicked about rent while people have lost their homes.

Also, I literally sent this in as a story idea to the Times Weds:

During Hurricane Ian, my family was unable to evacuate because we simply could not afford to. (Bradenton, FL)

It might be interesting to see who else may have been in the same boat.

My family saw a rise of 15% ($254/mo) in our rent in May in addition to a perfect storm of employment issues among all wage-earners.

We have struggled each month since the hike, but were unable to move due to upfront costs involved.

Florida's rental laws make it so landlords can evict renters in as little as two weeks.

So when faced between the choice of evacuation or eviction (because we could not do both), we stayed. And we will still be struggling due to the minimum amount of hurricane prep we needed to do (water, non-perishable food, flashlights).

How many other families were forced to make the same decision?

Evie Totty | September 30, 2022
So, if you think about it, I'm still losing the time I would have lost had I evacuated. We just saved the gas money.

Scott Hardie | September 30, 2022
Great point. And I'm glad to hear that you made it through the storm, even if you're only "ok" right now.

Kelly and I noticed that DoorDash suspended service here. We have no power and cannot cook and don't really want to drive around searching for a restaurant that might be open, especially when we're trying to conserve gas, so DoorDash would be a helpful option to have right now.

Evie Totty | September 30, 2022
Looks like UberEats is open and you CAN order through the DoorDash app and go pickup.

I'd call whatever place you decide on, though.

NOTE: I JUST got a text from UE saying it's busy.

Erik Bates | October 1, 2022
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | October 1, 2022
Evie, thanks. We've been eating out to enjoy cold air and power outlets. Don't know how long we can really afford it but so far it's a relief.

Erik, I appreciate it. I'm not sure what else to say to that. I'm tempted to downplay hurricanes and say that from inside a shelter, a hurricane doesn't seem like much, just wind and rain like you get on any summer afternoon here. But there's an enormous amount of dread beforehand and devastation afterward, and I'm trying to be more honest (with myself most of all) about the psychological effects.

Scott Hardie | October 4, 2022
I'm not into the whole performative "thank you for your service" thing with soldiers and first responders and so on. (And by some accounts, neither are they.) But the tens of thousands of electric line workers who have traveled across the country to help restore service across Florida, who will be working long shifts around the clock until the job is done weeks from now, staying in hotels and missing their families, they make me especially grateful.

Samir Mehta | October 12, 2022
I am so sorry to come to this late, but I am very glad to hear that you, Kelly, and Evie are okay. I have heard some awful stories these past few days.

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