The eye of the Hurricane Irma is scaring people affected by it and many others all around the world. Irma is mean and monstrous. Anumita, our Managing Editor, reports, exclusively in Different Truths.
Every half hour I pick up the remote of the TV and switch on to CNN. “Irma is here,” says the reporter, standing against the wailing winds and pelting rain. My hand involuntarily clutches the remote and moves over my heart. All I can do is sit here (Columbus, Ohio) and pray for all those people in still staying in the state of Florida. Watching all the devastation Irma did along its path of the islands, makes us feel so helpless. We can build enormous buildings and reach the moon, but ultimately one storm, one earthquake or one fury of a volcano can bring us down to our knees.
It has been a week-long ordeal for them. Since the first news of the monster storm heading towards the Florida coast. The island along the path were direct hits and there was little they could do to brace themselves from the fury of Mother Nature.
The anticipation is worse than the actual happening, it kills a person several times. I watched on TV and through the updates on Facebook and WhatsApp of my dear friends, how they were taking precautions. With every step of preparation, there was always a nagging doubt about will this be worth it. But, I must give the valiant Floridians kudos for maintaining such decorum in face of crisis. This reminds me of the sayings of Martha Graham, “Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.”
I have friends in Tampa, Gainesville, and Orlando. Previously the storm prediction center had its path chalked out along the east coast of the Florida. Call me selfish, but I felt a little relieved as the storm’s direct hit is not on the west coast where all my people are concentrated. Don’t get me wrong, I pray for all but, it’s the human tendency to worry more about our own.
As fate, has it Irma turned and is directly moving along the west coast. I checked on the preparations of my friends and prayed even harder.
My friend Neema lives in Tampa, very near to the shoreline. After waiting for some time, she decided to move to higher grounds, as her house was not suitable to stand the winds. She has her husband and two children with her. That was a wise decision to move to a safer place. They are now in a much safer place, at a friends house and am sure things will be riding the storm with her friends. They left their rented house with heavy furniture stacked up against doors and windows, praying that they find it exactly this way when they return.
Hari also lives in Tampa. His house in New Tampa and he does not fall in the flood zone, but the wind intensity is going to be around 125 m/hr. which can cause extensive damage. Along with his neighbors, he boarded up the windows. In face of adversity, the community comes together and that is that keeps our faith in humanity. Most of the things outdoors needed to be moved in, as they would become deadly projectiles. Food, water, and candles stocked up, and now it is almost time to hunker down with his family and his three cats. Like most other Floridian, he has done his part. His punning side did not leave him even at this time of facing such monstrous storm, and this is what he told me when I called him a few minutes ago, “We are taking care of our flora and fauna and waiting patiently to bear the brunt of Irma’s wrath. She is still 12 hours away making her way up the state after landfall in Key West. One thing I found is how neighbors in a community bond together when facing adversity. Two neighbors helped me board a few windows. Back breaking labor that took a few hours. We are trying to keep spirits up. Preparing for the worst but hoping for a break here in the Northeast part of Tampa called New Tampa. Our will is strong. We will not let Irma’geddon happen here.“
Gainesville is further north and is smack in the center of the land. My friend Trisha is a brave heart, she kept posting beautiful sky pictures, exhibiting how nature gives no clue as to what is to come. She told me that Gainesville is the safest place and she will be alright. She even invited my friends from Tampa to come over to her city if they think it is required. Her post always shows her brave and optimistic thoughts, and she says, ” The reality has now coalesced into the wait. The world beyond has come to an eerie standstill. The odd sound in my house today is the sound of television. Those of you who know me, know I do not like television. This is my concession to this storm…that I have let the world of news intrude upon my peace. Just so that I am aware. In a storm like this, there is no “one solution” that fits everyone. We weighed our choices against our realities and made the decision to stay. I made the safest choice I can, for my children. And have hunkered down in prayer.”
My friend Lisa, lives near Columbus, Ohio but she travels to Florida often. Her father lives there. On her last post, she said that she is staying in Orlando with her father. I thought she had high spirit, but her dad surprised me with his strong will. Well this speaks a lot about all the valiant heart of the Floridians. Here is a short post of hers, humour is the always the best medicine. She says, “He’s so worried about me because I have a bad cold. As an introvert, he’s probably seriously over being cooped up with me. Nevertheless, he is staying positive and only demanding (mildly) when it’s getting near a meal. Anyone who knows my Dad knows eating is a priority.”
It is around 9:30 am in the morning on the east coast, Irma is pelting its furry as a category 4 hurricane on the Key West, and I can feel the tension and anxiety rising among the people along the west coast line. It is time to stay together, stay indoors and pray. I believe in the resilience of mankind and there is no way we are giving up. The whole nation and people around the world have Florida in their thoughts and prayers are powerful.
“You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.” Cayla Mills
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Photos from Hari Srikant, Neema Setur, Trisha Roy and the Internet
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