The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Here Comes Irma (Irma #1)

I can think of no better place to live than Florida...except during a hurricane.

Irma, apparently a hurricane of historic proportions, has set her sights on Florida. Dear Diane and I happen to live smack dab in the middle of this great state, something which causes me more than a little concern. The latest predictions by the weather-guessers show the storm smashing into South Florida and then moving north, right up the spine of the Florida peninsula. If these forecasts are accurate, Irma, still packing hurricane force winds, should reach us sometime early Monday.

Because we live in Central Florida, between Orlando and Ocala, we will be spared the destruction caused by the storm surge that affects coastal areas. But the high winds and heavy rains could still take their toll. So much depends on the path Irma ultimately follows. If she makes a slight right turn and heads north along the east coast, the damage here will be lessened but the people of coastal Georgia and the Carolinas could find themselves facing an even stronger storm. She could instead take a left turn into the Gulf and run up Florida's west coast. This, too, would be better for us, but might hammer the folks who live along the Gulf Coast and in the panhandle. There's really no good scenario, so the best we can do is pray that God will be merciful and keep us all safe.

We have not received an evacuation order -- at least, not yet -- but if we do, it might be a challenge to convince Dear Diane to leave. Where would we go? she asks. Drive north to stay with relatives in Georgia or friends in South Carolina? From the forecasts it seems the storm will simply follow us. She intends to stay put and assumes that our central location will limit the damage that a weakened Irma could inflict. I pray she is correct.

In truth, The Villages tends to weather bad storms fairly well. We can only hope the community will withstand Irma's fury when she arrives. Back in 2004, shortly after we moved here, three hurricanes -- Charley, Frances and Jeanne -- visited The Villages, one after another, and caused some damage; but our well-constructed house survived all three storms. The large live-oak trees behind our house were not so fortunate, but despite all the lost limbs, the trees survived. Because all the utilities -- cable, telephone and electricity -- are underground here in The Villages, we didn't suffer any outages back in 2004. (Actually, as I recall, we lost cable TV for about 30 minutes, but that was the extent of it.)

My biggest concern is the potential flooding that could result from 10 to 20 inches of rainfall. We have excellent drainage here but I can't imagine any drainage system coping effectively with such high levels of predicted rainfall. We'll see.

But because I always want to be prepared, I stopped by the local Publix supermarket this morning and loaded up on the essentials: ice cream and cookies. I also bought  40 pounds of ice and stashed it in the freezer. I own an "enhanced" ice chest that will keep ice nice and icy for five days. I also have two full tanks of gas for the barbecue grill in the event we cannot use the kitchen range. And if we must leave, the car's gas tank is also full. I think I'm ready for whatever Irma throws at us.

Patron: Protection from Storms
Anyway, we ask that all you folks who live up in snow country keep us in your prayers. And pray, too, for those in the Caribbean who have already suffered so much devastation from this storm.

We thank God for all that happens, knowing He turns everything to good for those who believe in Him.

And, lest I forget, the patron saint of protection from storms is St. Vitus, a martyr of the early fourth century. And so we pray too for his intercession.

God's peace.

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