I will tell you that a lot of what is being discussed with evacuations, heavy wind and rain, etc. takes me back to when I was on vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina last year before Hurricane Matthew hit. At the time, they were not sure when Matthew was going to make landfall and we thought we had a chance to at least make it down there. We only stayed for 2 days. Once we heard to evacuate we did before the crowds and it became more mandatory. And its a good thing we did. While Myrtle Beach itself got more wind, the cities and the road leading into it was heavily flooded. In addition, we hit some of the hurricane exodus on I-25 which is stressful driving like I-75 but a few times worse. It took us at least a day to get out and settled into a hotel that we were lucky enough to find the day we left and just kind of winged it from there. In the end, when we got home, we were so stressed and almost at each other's throats that we spent the last two days away from each other.
In the case of Hurricane Irma, I know some people who had planned to be down there for the winter and thus felt like they just couldn't leave. So, they either hunkered down or took shelter. So, when I get those Facebook updates from them, at least I know they are all right and I can get an idea of what's happening from their perspective. A few I know were able to get out and relocate for the time being, but haven't heard much. At least I know they are all OK.
However, there are several things coming out of this that I really feel need addressing, and I just need to get out and talk about:
1. Price gouging - If you are a company that is cashing in on people's heightened emotions and charging more than they can afford, you need to get properly sued or at least as a CEO of that company resign. Hearing stories of stranded travellers who couldn't afford a ticket to fly out of danger or even a decent hotel room for shelter just really angers me. Seriously, if I were CEO, price would be no object. In fact, I'd go so far as to offer free transportation, screw the shareholders, and make sure my customers were taken care of or at least taken to safety. Not only would that be GREAT PR for the company, but also you'd have a lot more people WANTING to use your services just for having a big heart. Not once did I see anything like that, only reduced prices. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves and I hope an investigation happens.
2. Stranded travelers - Not only did I hear the news of stranded passengers who could not get out of a plane, I heard of stranded travelers on cruise ships. What sane person decides to go out to sea and then turn back saying, "Sorry, we can't go out. You're on your own?" How is that taking care of your customers and making sure they are safely back to the airport and on a plane. You had a window of time to help them out and you didn't. Why would I even go cruising on your line if that's how you treat traveller's in a crises. You do emergency drills with passengers 101 all the time before leaving port. Maybe you need a dose of your own medicine on yourselves. I really feel sorry for these passengers and I hope they get a class action suit going on this one.
3. Abandoned animals - This news just angers me and breaks my heart all the way around. On Facebook and Twitter I kept seeing stories of people just leaving their dogs in cages or leashed up to die. I can understand if you panic and forget. I can understand if you had to make a hard choice. But, to leave them there like that is inhumane. Thank you to the animal control people and those that saw these animals for taking action. While you could not and are not able to save them all, at least you made an effort because you probably have a pet of your own too that you care for. At least there's going to action on finding out who left those animals like they did and at least give them some kind of punishment to teach them a lesson. Granted I'm not like someone from PETA or ASPCA, but I do at least love animals. I happen to have a senior pet dog that we would take with us if we were able to go to a shelter that allowed it.
And even in the animal shelters I heard of at least one story in which pet owners and pets were separated but had to wait at least 2 hrs until they could take care of their pets, walk their dogs, etc. It's almost as if those who are running the shelters need to be trained by the local humane society or at least have someone from the Humane Society on premises to help out because they understand how scared pets are. For a lot of people pets are like a family and to treat them not that way is an insult to the family that loves them. I hope none of those animals died due to neglectful care.
I think these aspects I mentioned above are some lessons that Florida needs to take a very hard look at. While most of the populous were prepared and listened to reason and the warnings. The business world cashed in and raped innocent, scared people of their savings that they possibly will never get back. Honeymoons and vacations are ruined, bad memories now. Some will probably not want to visit Florida again because of how they were treated before, during, and more than likely after the storm.
Some will simply leave Florida because of PTSD and other things that will just present too many bad memories and losses for them. I can't say that I blame any of you for that. I hope that you do plan a good vacation and you are able to redo that honeymoon in the future, because dammit, you saved up for it and you deserve it. For companies to steal your money like that beforehand is just wrong, and I hope you can and are able to do something about it.
In the meantime, once this all passes, I'm hoping I can do my part to help. With the contacts I have, I was thinking of making them some new bathroom accessories and maybe even a comfy hat to show that I care about them. I don't know. I do know that I'll be donating some stuff I don't need to organizations who can send it down there as well as a church or two I know of in the area that will need help.
If there is one big lesson I think we all can learn from these strong hurricanes, it is this: We can't let pettiness divide us. These extreme divisions are not what humanity is about. That isn't even the USA. So the more we fight; the more heated it gets; the more we divide ourselves into the tribes; the more we put in place rules and laws that goes against who we are and our freedoms to be us, the stronger the storms will be to smack us across the face and tell us to just "snap out of it!" It just doesn't need to take these big storms to do so nor it shouldn't.