9/29/22 spaghetti model of Hurrican Ian's path. Tampa Bay Channel Ten graphic.

Living with, Through, and After Hurricane Ian

Living with, Through, and After Hurricane Ian

Thoughts of a St Petersburg, FL resident looking down the barrel of an eye of a hurricane.

After twenty-some years living on the southwest coast of Florida, I’ve learned three important facts about hurricane preparedness.


There’s no point in watching news and weather outside of local programming. The national side makes money on panic and mayhem. If it bleeds, it leads. It’s better for ratings to ratchet all the drama with the caveat that “we just don’t want people not taking this serious”. Shut your pretty face. We on the ground, in the mix, know better. It’s a straightforward process of ignoring the Cone of Uncertainty until 84 hours out.

It’s Monday morning, after 11 am, St Petersburg time. We’ve done our due diligence at the store. We’ve done our due diligence hardening the house. We will move everything that’s outside, inside tomorrow. We’re paying attention to the local news/weather. WE ARE NOT WATCHING NATIONAL NEWS.

My husband, reading the weather news online, “Jim Cantore’s in Clearwater!”

9/29/22 Hurrican Ian cone of uncertainty map.
Tampa Channel 10 Local Map

“Ah! We’re good then.” I replied while typing my Hurricane Ian Musings. It’ll be a CAT3 on approach, and we’ll be sitting through storm surges, tornado threats, rain, and winds gusting to CAT2 for about 12 hours. This could change. The Cone is always uncertain. But if Cantore’s in town, we’re on a cusp, not in the thick of it. The guy is an entertainment caster. He isn’t gonna take any chances with his pretty face.

My sister texted a few days ago asking my opinion. She and her family live about a half hour north of us. (If you take Interstate 19 at maximum effort). My reply, “Hurricane Ian is going to be a pain in the ass.”

Evacuation is a struggle these days. We’re overpopulated. Under sheltered. And we don’t have the infrastructure for the last 24-hour evacuations to be smooth. Someone’s gonna run outta gas and be forced to run into a fully booked hotel/motel begging for shelter under the free breakfast nook. It happens, more than most like to admit.

But that’s neither here nor there for our household. We’re bunkering and hunkering down. Run from water, hide from wind. Hurricane Ian has both, and it’s a zero-sum game. When dealing with hurricanes on the coast, what you’re betting on is after. Where do you want to be stuck, after the event? If it’s bad, you will be stuck somewhere, and everywhere will suck in a fashion.

Hurricane preparedness is akin to oxygen masks on an airplane. In certain situations, they are going to help you survive. In other situations, they are a Binky. With every takeoff, there is an unknown variable of chaos theory to fly through. Oh sure, the pamphlets cover everything, but only a few things will matter, or nothing at all. Gruesome pragmatic thoughts.

The first goal any rider in the storm must execute is calm. The second, humor. Third, zero expectations to the after. Do what you can. Decide what you need to decide to stay where you are going to do what you can.

Here’s my top to do’s for our preparedness.

  • Do all the laundry. Entering the after with clean clothes, there’s no explaining how good that is.
  • Water, water, anywhere. Fill buckets for flushing toilets. Get the bottled, the jugged. Then fill all the containers you have with water. Being able to drink and wash your face. There’s no explaining how good that is.
  • The day/night the storm is to kick your local ass, wear clothes that put you in the most favorable place to react, act, and handle situations. Forget expectations of comfort.
  • You want clothes ready and dry in a suitcase. After may be weird. Be ready.
  • You want sun protection, work gloves, and jeans for after. The weather after a big storm is sunny, hot, and pure Florida. You and your neighbors will be busy cleaning up.
  • Talk to your neighbors. Get on the same page. You will need a community strength in the after.
  • If you’ve got dogs. Half their food servings. No one is pooping outside for 24 hours. Hard stop.
  • If you’ve got other companion animals. Plan for the after. Crate, cage, and secure them for the duration.
  • Find that center room/area in your home. Make it clear and usable.
  • Communication is your prime solution. Keep your phones charged. Turn on the battery saver, turn off colors. And if the power goes out. Use it only for communication and information.
  • I’ll leave the rest of the Hurricane Preparedness to the .gov sites.

Finally, storm preparedness and aftershock are personal. Tend to your own knitting. Likewise, don’t base your decisions on your neighbor’s.

To my fellow Floridians. Godspeed. Choose your after. Stick to your guns, and your water bottles, and extra toilet paper. And whatever you do, DO NOT WATCH NATIONAL NEWS.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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