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Yeah. We Did That.

Post-storm, you might have scratched your head at some of your Hurricane Irma preparations.

You aren’t the only one.

Hopefully by November I’ll no longer feel the need to horde ice like a squirrel with a nut.

Or check Facebook every five minutes to see where my friends and neighbors are.

Or keep my phone perpetually plugged in to keep it 100 percent charged.

Hurricane Irma had everyone prepping in their own way.

Like using 50-pound bags of rice in place of sandbags.

Or zip-tying the kitchen cabinet doors so the wind would not whip them open.

Because, you know, all that flapping could get annoying.

We asked folks on the Facebook group Westchase Neighborhood News what steps they took that left them post-storm questioning their pre-storm sanity.

One mom opened bottles of seltzer water so her highly discerning children would have flat instead of sparkling water to drink post-hurricane.

Everyone had their own unique way of getting ready for the storm. And their ingenuity was quite inspiring.

As Green resident Marcus Wilkes said, “It’s not stupid if it works.”

And since the worst of the storm bypassed us, we can assure ourselves it all worked.

With no time for a trip to the local hardware store for sold-out plywood, many residents got very creative when boarding up. In The Greens the Reynolds family duct-taped an enormous smiley faced inflatable to their pool’s plate glass window. Meanwhile, over in Woodbay Mandy Hucks’ husband cut up the family’s ping pong table to bolt across the windows. “We didn’t play often, so I think he was happy to find an excuse to get rid of it,” said Hucks. 

Some families like Csilla Pecz’s unscrewed interior doors to board up exterior windows – or reinforce front doors. Others just went ahead and used anything they could find.

It was perhaps best that their children were already hiding in closets.

“My husband bought the last two cheapy doors at Lowe’s when they were out of every other piece of lumber they’ve ever stocked,” said Leah Warner. “He screwed them over our master bedroom window, which is where we and our three kids and Labrador were going to hunker down for the night. Then he got the idea to use our boy’s Ikea desk, two interior bathroom doors and our garage shelving door to board up the family room.”

Warner also made sure the family had plenty of flotation devices in case the water did break through the door/Ikea desk barriers. “I had the baby float, puddle jumper and two small boogie boards near the front door. . . I thought about getting the paddleboard but we had buried it while stuffing the garage with yard stuff.”

For Stamford’s Urara Konno, flotation devices were not enough and she turned to the web to help her out, “I ordered four life vests for our family on Amazon Prime, which I was supposed to get by Saturday, the ninth. Although I understand Amazon did its best and appreciate all the hard work Amazon did for Irma, they still haven't come yet. She added, “I was going to buy a boat along with the vests, but the boat was out of stock and I was panicking because I thought without the boat, we would definitely be killed by alligators swimming in the flood water.”

Konno wasn’t the only one to turn to Amazon for supplies. West Park Village’s Tara Delacruz also ordered (and received) a boat in addition to life jackets for her whole family, including her dog.

Over in The Vineyards Elena Orovio was very busy – cooking everything in her freezer, wondering how to make helmets for her animals, cleaning and trying to figure out how to connect two adults, two children and three animal cages together with rope and bungee cord. And this was all after her husband stopped her from dumping the sand out of their sandbags to build a sandcastle style moat around the door. “I realized that every material thing that matters to me fits into two Ziploc bags and on my person. I weathered the storm wearing all of my jewelry.”

“I insisted my husband buy me a boat,” said Kristy Starcevic, “then my son turned it into a bed as we all camped out in the living room. I told my husband that the boat would be the only way to get around after the storm and he would regret not getting it. I’m pretty sure he didn’t think it would flood, but didn’t want to risk the small chance of being stranded with his wife saying, ‘I told you we should’ve got the boat.’”

Starcevic’s son wasn’t the only child who saw the storm as the opportunity to have an indoor camping adventure, Bobbie Pecev’s son in Abbotsford was looking forward to sleeping on top of the washing machine and dryer. In addition to medicine, food, water, a change of clothes, a hammer and flash lights, Pecev noticed the next day that she had brought two different shoes – flip flops and her runners – for whatever situation she encountered. “I also spent two days cleaning the house like crazy while my husband kept saying, ‘Why are you cleaning it if it’s going to get destroyed?’”

Amanda Miller Partilla remarked, “While stocking up for hunkering down, my husband bought four cases of Mountain Dew.” She added, “Because the only thing scarier than a Cat. 5 hurricane is being locked away with me without my caffeine.”

Meanwhile Jill Hayward confessed she felt a little adamant about keeping her family property hydrated. “I was so worried about not having water since everyone was sold out. I filled every container in the house, including coolers, cups, bowls, buckets and bathtubs. We had so much water sitting around we didn't have room for anything else.”

Jen Kresge is still trying to get rid of her storm visitors. “We brought everything in the house from the patio without checking on it,” she said. This included planters, the ping pong table, chairs, tables, storage bins and toy buckets. “We have tons of frogs and lizards all over the house now. It drove our dogs nuts today.”

Carolyn Hardy was more succinct, adding emphasis in her own caps. “We drove to TEXAS. On Wednesday. Before anyone was leaving,” she wrote. “Because two cut offs at the gas station set me off enough to want to get out of Dodge from all the crazy that was about to come out.”

Lynn Adams was particularly tired after storm preparations. “My son helped me carry all of the stuff off my lanai into the garage. Once we had it all packed neatly away, I remembered that all of the hurricane supplies I got ready at the beginning of the season were behind everything from the lanai.  So we carried it all out, got the supplies, then repacked it.” She added, “That was when I remembered my hurricane window screens were back there too.”

In West Park Village neighbors Karen Rich and Brandy Ludlam realized their time to evacuate had passed and started looking for other families who might want to hunker down at the shelter at nearby Smith Middle School.  With a minivan full of moms, the nervous ladies went to check out the shelter’s accommodations. “We were told if we had 20, we could have our own classroom,” said Ludlam.  “Got 20 and thought this will be so fun.”

Or not.

“When we got to the shelter,” wrote Ludlam, “we were told we couldn’t leave. We actually thought we’d be able to put our name down to reserve our spot and come back when we were ready. Such rookies.”

So they, like dozens of other residents, headed back home.

To to hunker down with their bike helmets and floaties, food, flashlights, ice, water, frogs, lizards and other hurricane essentials.

By Marcy Sanford

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