Summer has officially begun. Most of the country revels in excitement because it’s finally that time of year for barbecues, swimming, boating, the beach, and being outside whenever possible. Children are excited that school is out and they now get to have some summer fun. Some parts of the country, however, know this joyous season as another time…the beginning of hurricane season, which is not as glamorous. For the hurricane-prone parts of the U.S., many are filling out their hurricane preparedness and evacuation forms for work, determining what flood zone they live in for evacuations, making sure that they have all of their tools and equipment set aside and ready, and stocking up on bottled water and non-perishable food items in preparation.
Being from Wisconsin, I’ve never experienced hurricanes or tropical storms while growing up. I was used to preparing for blizzards, snow storms, and the very occasional tornado. When I moved to Florida, I heard stories from my co-workers there about what it was like to experience them. And to be honest, since I had never witnessed it first-hand, I was weirdly excited for my first one.
Just as expected when hurricane season arrived, came my first tropical storm. I lived a couple of blocks from the water and had heard from neighbors that the waves were crashing over the sea wall which flooded the main streets. I of course had to venture out and see this for myself. I walked down to the water and still remember it like it was yesterday. Waves were crashing madly up and over the boardwalk wall with no end in sight and had flooded the entire four lane road. I soon found myself up to my knees in water (which they advise you not to do because of sewage runoff and infection). Palm trees were swaying so angrily back and forth to the point where I was frightened that they were all going to crack at the trunk. I had to lower myself slightly to the ground and plant my feet even firmer because the wind kept throwing my body back. It was like something I had seen in a movie. Even though there was a little fear, it was strangely mesmerizing and I could not make myself leave the area. It was truly Mother Nature at its finest. I stood there for about 30 minutes before going back to my apartment, but then snuck back out later that night because I wanted to see what it looked like in the dark. It was again just as hypnotic and I found myself standing there for about an hour just watching its wrath.
It’s fascinating that we are so mesmerized by the negative parts of Mother Nature. It’s force, it’s fury, it’s unpredictability, and how it happens at the same time, same place. For something that can be so captivating and oddly magical, it can be so incredibly devastating at the same time. It can injure our loved ones, tear down our homes, cause psychosocial trauma, and completely wash away everything we’ve ever known. For something that causes so much destruction, it is something that we just can’t seem to take our eyes off of. For the first time in my life I witnessed just how intense and powerful these tropical storms and hurricanes could be, and continued to experience it with each storm and hurricane that had come and gone for my years there.
So as you are enjoying your family time this summer and the children are enjoying their summer off, just remember that even though Mother Nature is blessing you with beautiful, warm, and sunny days, there are many people, including children, that may not be so fortunate and are truly at the hands of Mother Nature’s will.
-Erin Silber, CLDR Board Member