Joe, last Monday, I had to put down my boy, Razah Cat. I cried 'til my ribs hurt.
I am glad the hurricane did not hit that Monday, as I would not have wanted my boy to suffer the discomfort and fear from hearing the accelerating winds, the rain beating on the roof, the boom of thunder, the racket of flying palm fronds hitting things outside.
Overnight, we began to see the winds pick up between Monday and Tuesday. We lost power only twice, once for two hours and the second time for 15-30 minutes.
Ian never got above 70 MPH gusts in my domain. And when the surge hit, it was low tide (this is the time of year Kings Tides make many of our roads impassable in the Keys). Being so far away from the eye (it was more than 60-100 miles from Key West which is west of where I live in the Keys), I knew that wherever Ian was going to hit, those people had better be evacuated and already up the road.
There was minor damage throughout the Keys. Newbies in Key West lost some scooters, cars, belongings, etc., if they did not listen to older locals cautioning them to park all vehicles in town. It never ceases to amaze me how people living a block or two from the ocean think a tiny two-foot storm surge will not affect their lives.
Seeing the damage here early Tuesday, I thought, “When this thing hits the warmer Bayside waters, it’s going to be more powerful than when it came off Cuba.”
And that is what happened.
Later Tuesday night, I was shocked to see reports that there were people on barrier islands off the West Coast of Florida who decided to ride the storm out. Knowing places such as Captiva, Sanibel, Pine Island, etc., I called my landlord and asked, “Did you hear there are thousands of people up there on the barrier islands who decided to ride out a Cat 4?”
Overnight we monitored the storm. Then with the dawn’s first light and videos starting to pile up on youtube from handheld cameras, we knew the loss of life in this storm was going to outweigh what we saw during 2017’s Irma here in the Keys.
We in the Keys came through Ian unscathed, except for the Haitian immigrants who capsized and landed in the Keys during the storm’s arrival. Many of those poor souls drowned.
I do not own this oasis where I live next to a Nature Preserve. In this jungle, no one will ever build. Its just us brave souls at the end of a dirt road and the wildlife. My landlord loves me and has never raised my rent. I know his insurance premiums are going up, but he has never once asked for a rent increase. However, my yardwork (gratis, not paid, because it is my therapy) has increased the value of this place by $500,000 or more in just the past 3-years. So, it is a good trade-off.
I harbor no wishful thinking about what is happening in the Keys: overbuilt, too many people, desecration of holy grounds for animals, be it on land or in the waters, insurance premiums higher than your monthly mortgage payment… The Keys cannot expect hurricanes to lessen their intensity in the future. Insurance rates will reflect this. And only the rich will be able to afford a home.
My landlord might have to sell due to higher insurance rates.
If that happens, we plan to move to Canada. Somewhere, such as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. Near the ocean, but high above.
I’m thinking of places I’ve visited in Canada where I never saw plastics, sandwich wrappers, Styrofoam, and other litter every few feet on the highways. Rural areas up that way are so pristine that you can view pure nature, where wildlife thrives undisturbed. And the aurora when she comes to the night skies is a way I would love to fall asleep!