Florida Braces for Hurricane Irma

Equivalent to the size of Texas, the storm has the potential to cause catastrophic effects to Florida in it’s entirety.

Hurricane Irma, the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, is on a deadly route right through the center of the Sunshine State. Equivalent to the size of Texas, the storm has the potential to cause catastrophic effects to Florida in it’s entirety.

(Unedited News Segment on Hurricane Irma for TV ASIA)

The scene in Florida, Tampa at least, is extremely eerie. Bottles of water have been sold out since Wednesday, and when supplies do arrive, they come with police escorts.

Floridians are frantic. They are lining their windows with plywood,  preparing evacuation bags. To put that in perspective, this is the first time in the twenty years that I’ve lived in Tampa that I’ve seen people in my neighborhood put up plywood for a hurricane.

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Source: National Hurricane Center (September 8, 2017 5 p.m. update)

I think what makes this storm more terrifying than what we’ve seen in the past is a variety of things:

  • It’s size and capacity for destruction.
  • The fact that it is immediately following Harvey: the costliest storm in U.S. history, which has left such a large population without homes, pets trapped in flooding, etc.
  • Even just the idea that most Floridians feel like we’ve dodged the bullet so many times we are overdue for brutal storm.
    Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 7.21.11 PM

    Photo taken in Labadee, Haiti. Sending prayers to the beautiful people of this island, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Barbuda and everyone else who saw the brutal face of Irma.

This storm specifically, has left underdeveloped Caribbean islands decimated. Residents lacking shelter, food, hope are facing the possibility of being ravaged again in a few days  by Hurricane Jose.

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Destruction left by Hurricane Irma in St. Martin.

Source: AFP – Getty Images*An important note I want to make here is that although we have no idea what this storm will bring to our state, we, as Floridians, located on the mainland of the United States, have the ability to evacuate and recover rapidly (hopefully). These islands need help right away and if you have the means, you can donate immediately through UNICEF. This is my favorite organization because they’re already physically there, on the ground, helping. Take a look:

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Let me further entice you. Please don’t forget that the Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico are also U.S. territories.

To my wonderful, optimistic, hospitable Floridians:

With the storm less then a day away, it’s hard not to worry. I can’t tell you how to stop that feeling, because I am worried myself. Unfortunately, that won’t help us. Remember to stay calm & be prepared to the best of your ability. And while I can’t tell you how to prevent being scared, I can tell you to instead concentrate on recovery. Remember that when the storm has passed, we must go out of our way to help the people & animals in need. In the same respect, no matter what this storm brings, we will all be there, as people of this incredible state, to stand by your side and help YOU where you need it.

Here are a few last minute things to make sure you have done to prepare:

  1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, PLAN FOR YOUR PETS: Animals are completely innocent, and they are scared. Remember that they have the intuition to sense the storm is coming. Stock up on food for them as well, include them in your water budget. If you realize you don’t have enough water for them, fill plastic bags with tap water and put them in the freezer. If they don’t have microchips, or tags, MAKE SURE they are wearing a collar. They’re $5 at Wal-Mart. That will be the number one helper in deciphering between pets & strays. Make sure you have current photos of them. DO NOT LEAVE THEM BEHIND. Three shelters in Tampa take animals (you must carry vaccination records). If there is a state of emergency, hotels and motels CANNOT reject them. If you are out of all other options, reach out to me and I will personally help you find a place for them.
  2. Find a contact that is out of the hurricane’s path, have your family agree on it: If signal is lost, it will be easier to contact someone out of the effected areas.
  3. Take pictures of EVERYTHING: Cars, your house, each individual room in your home (for insurance purposes). Put your passports, social security cards, all other important documents in a ziploc bag, put that itself inside an evacuation bag to carry with you. Take pictures of those documents as well. Send these pictures to everyone in your family, as well as your decided out-of-area contact.
  4. Make sure all electrical cords are off the ground: Fire hazard in case of flooding.
  5. Water: Fill empty jugs, ziploc bags, pots. Line any holes in your bath tub with tape and fill that with water too. We don’t know when water will turn back on.
  6. Put any important documents you aren’t taking in your dishwasher or washing machine: They will be safe here.

If you are seeking shelter in the Tampa area, please reach out to me. I want you all to be safe!


About Komal Junejo (30 Articles)
I am a 24-year-old Pakistani-American pursuing a career at the U.S. Department of State. I am currently studying for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) in hopes of becoming a diplomat within the Public Diplomacy sector.

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