This post isn’t going to be like my normal ones, this one is more of a diary entry so I don’t forget what happened in Miami. I also needed to write it down so that once everything had died down I could reflect on what happened properly.
There was talk Monday morning of a Hurricane on it’s way to Florida. I saw the articles but didn’t think too much about it. It’s one of those situations that you see online, but you never think it’ll happen to you. As the day went on talk of Irma increased. By the evening the Governor of Florida had declared a state emergency and Irma was now a Category 5 hurricane. At that point we knew things were getting serious.
Even though the direction of the hurricane could change we knew we had to prepare just in case. So Tuesday evening after work we went to Target with the intention of stocking up on food. Well…
When we got home I rang Delta to see if I could bring our flight back to NYC forward by a day or two. Our flight was scheduled to leave Miami Saturday at 7:30am, and with the uncertainty of everything going on we didn’t want to risk it. But, because our flight was basic economy we were not allowed to change it, even though I insisted I’d pay a fee. They also added that our flight was currently not effected. With this we thought we’d look at other transport out of Miami. Well, most things were sold out. Oh wait no we did find one flight actually, Miami to London for $11,000. What a bargain! We ended up booking a 30 hour Greyhound leaving Miami, for NYC, for Friday at 1:20pm.
By Wednesday things were getting worse, social media was going bananas with people saying you must leave Florida ASAP. There was talk of people spending hours on the motorway and petrol stations running out of petrol. One person on twitter said they were moving 1 mile an hour. At this point I started to change my mind about getting a coach, knowing we could be stuck on a coach when the hurricane hit was not something I wanted to happen. We also started looking at the devastation Irma had caused earlier in the day and that’s when panic kicked in.
As a Brit you are so unaware of Hurricanes, you see it on the news but I don’t think it goes through your mind that one day you may be in one. Hurricane prep is taught in schools in America. This shit is serious. We went to bed with the intention of waking up and heading to a hurricane shelter.
We woke up early on Thursday and started packing. 20 minutes in Adam noticed a man outside looking like he needed help. He went to ask and turns out it was a 62 year old Japanese man who was visiting for 5 days. He had been evacuated from his hotel and had been sent to an apartment near us. We invited him in and tried to explain to him what was happening. He barely spoke English so most of our conversation was carried out via Google Translate. He didn’t quite realise the severity of what was happening, he could see the beautiful sun outside so was unsure what we were saying. We ended up spending 3.5 hours with this man trying to help him, we ended our talk by circling the local shelters for him to go to.
Since our arrival in Miami I’d been speaking with a friend who I use to play basketball in college with. She moved to America on a football scholarship and now lives in West Palm Beach, an hour North of Miami. Anyway, half way through helping this many she sent me a message asking for our full names as she’d managed to get us onto her bosses private jet the following morning. I could’ve cried. Her only ask was could we make our way to West Palm Beach that evening. To fucking right we could.
So that’s our story. We got on the Tri-Rail to West Palm Beach, stayed with our friend that night and the following morning got on the plane. I’ve never really considered myself to be a lucky person but in this situation I feel incredible lucky and grateful that some strangers got us out of Florida. I also feel incredible devastated for the people who were not able to leave, to the people who stayed behind to look after their families, look after their homes or their animals. There is however one thing I do know, the love and sense of community from everyone we met will stay with me forever 💜