6 Things That Happened On My Evacuation Journey

6 Things That Happened On My Evacuation Journey

Heading out west because Matthew, you are scary!
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As fall break quickly approached, I was excited to be in my family's vacation spot in Boca Grande and be reunited with our dog. Meanwhile, Rollins College Campus Safety and the president were monitoring Hurricane Matthew. In the library Tuesday morning, a friend told me that classes may be cancelled Thursday and she had heard it from a trusted source. To be honest, I had no idea Hurricane Matthew was headed for Florida until she told me.

Later that afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook avoiding the copious amounts of work I had to do and saw a post saying classes for Thursday and Friday were cancelled. At first, I was surprised because not only what my friend had told me came true, but in fact, Hurricane Matthew was projected to hit southern Florida's coastline and continue its way up to the Carolinas.

Imagine someone who boasts about being from Kansas, but has never experienced a tornado, and then is suddenly presented with the high possibility of an even stronger force of nature on its way to Orlando. Of course, I freaked out. College does not just cancel class for no reason (with the exception of Fox Day).

Anyways, I called my dad who was already en route to Florida, and planned to gather some friends to get gas, flash lights, water, and snacks. Well, my dad arrived late Wednesday night and we decided to leave the next afternoon. After debating staying in shelter in Orlando or making our way towards Tampa and hopefully Boca Grande, we packed up our car and headed west.

We made contingency plans, had go and no-go points, and were basically prepared for the worst case scenario. Here are 6 things that happened on our drive to Tampa as a first stop and eventual arrival in Boca Grande:

1. No Airconditioning

Earlier that morning, my dad had driven to two different gas stations of which both were closed, so to preserve gas, we did not use air conditioning. Until we reached our "go" point, we decided not to use it until we knew we were safe and in the clear. It honestly was not that bad because we opened the windows and sunroof to have some natural wind. Even when it started raining, we left the windows open a little to cool off.

2. Gas stations were out of gas

That being said, there were several places in Florida where gasoline was limited if not gone. When my dad told me he went to two gas stations that both were closed, I really thought about staying in shelter. But, I knew my dad was an eagle scout and always prepared. Using Google Maps, we thankfully avoided I-4 traffic until it was absolutely necessary to take it. On our way, things were looking bad and we almost decided to turn around, but we were so close! Finally, after passing three gas stations with plastic bags on the nozzles and as we got closer to Tampa, we found a gas station with gasoline.

3. Establishing "go" and "no-go" points

As I said earlier, we had these designated spots where we would decide to turn around or to keep going. Thankfully Google Maps helped us avoid I-4 traffic and we went on the turnpike. If traffic was bad there, then we would turn around. It was not bad, and even the tolls were suspended! Another point was a hotel about 100 miles into our journey where we had reservations as a back-up.

Quite a few times my dad considered turning around and me being terrified of the idea of sheltering from the hurricane, persuaded him that this traffic was "normal" and usual for interstate. We only were caught in traffic a few times, and as we made our way to Tampa, I could feel the tension in the car easing up.

4. Having lots of food

Being an eagle scout, my dad had bought a lot of non-cook food meaning we could eat it without cooking it. So, if we had to stay in Orlando, we were prepared and if we got stranded on the highway, we were prepared. We snacked on Frosted Flakes and Tortilla chips until we reached a "go" point and could seek out a rest stop.

As we neared Tampa, we saw a sign for Sonic and decided to take the exit. Well, the Sonic was 2 miles from the interstate, and Florida drivers being Florida drivers, we had to do a little off-road driving to get back on the highway.

5. Weather updates

The radio is a magical thing. While driving west, we wanted to keep ourselves aware of the storm's location in case we did need to turn around and take shelter. After hearing the firs reports of devastation in Haiti, I was so anxious and scared for my friends still at Rollins. Looking back, I know the government and weather channel reporters do emphasize the need to evacuate to everyone because the affect of the storm can be different for various areas. For example, I have heard and seen videos of Rollins and a few trees fell and plants were blown everywhere. In Jacksonville, there was a large storm surge and pieces of hotels and other building debris moving on the streets.

So, while the affect might not have been quite so drastic in Florida as it was in Haiti and the Bahamas, I am glad these weather reporters kept us updated about Hurricane Matthew and encouraged people to evacuate.

6. Arrival

Once we reached Tampa and got gas, we decided to make the last leg of the journey to Boca Grande. My brother and I convinced our dad that this was a pretty good "go" point and that we could turn the air conditioning on. After we got to our hotel, we were way to hyped up from the thought of being stranded or sitting out the storm and were so happy we made it.

Cover Image Credit: my photo

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.

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Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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