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It’s been 25 years since Hurricane Andrew hit Florida. I remember it like it was yesterday.  My parents, my cocker spaniel and I were in the upstairs hallway with all of the doors closed. The power was out. It felt like it was 100 degrees in there so I spent most of my time wetting a washcloth and putting it on my dog’s head so she wouldn’t overheat.  The sounds were so loud, like a freight train and seemed to last forever.  I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to us.  I was terrified and prayed that we would all be ok.  Parts of Miami were completely destroyed but being further North, we were lucky.  There was very minimal damage to our neighborhood and we were safe and most of all, grateful.

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And now, here I am, a Mother of 3, getting my home and my family prepared for a storm that could be even worse than Andrew.  Severe anxiety is not the best thing to have in a situation like this, but the part of me that is terrified is the part of me that I will not allow to take over.  My girls are my number one priority right now and I’m going to make sure that instead of panicking, I’m making sure that they feel safe.  We’ve stocked up on water and tons of canned food and snacks.  My husband is not only shuttering up our home, but also 3 neighbors homes as well.  He’s pushing himself to unsafe limits at this point because he wants everyone to be safe.  While his concern for others is one of the many reasons I love him so much, it scares me to watch him come inside the house, lay on the floor and ask for an ice pack to keep him from passing out.  Unfortunately, he refuses to stop until everyone’s homes are secure.

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Meanwhile, social media is making things SO much worse.  People are exaggerating things and posting “worst case scenarios” and it’s making everyone flip the F out.  Many who were not planning on leaving Florida have decided to take the chance, only to realize that leaving may not be the best option.  Flights out of Florida were sold out days ago from what I hear and with millions trying to evacuate by car, many highways are at a stand still.  Gas shortages are real right now as well.  Imagine jumping on a highway, spending twice the amount of time trying to get to where your going in bumper to bumper traffic, only to realize that you may not have enough gas to get all the way there.  Or worse… running out of gas trying to find a gas station that still has fuel.  The most recent thing I read is that hotels are cancelling reservations if you are late because of the high demand, leaving people stranded, in their cars with no where to sleep.  With the path of Hurricane Irma not definite, they could be putting themselves in danger while trying to run from it.  So many of my friends went West, not realizing that just one little shift in the path and Hurricane Irma could be heading right for them, to the place they tried to escape to.

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Our local stores were out of water, batteries and bread as of yesterday.  There are fights breaking out for the little amount of water that does become available in some cities.  It’s all out chaos right now.  And it’s not just the people in Florida who are losing their minds.  Friends and family of those in Florida are on social media making the panic even greater, begging people to leave Florida and to “get out while they can.” Of all the years I’ve lived in Florida, through all the hurricanes I’ve been through, I’ve never seen it quite this chaotic and insane.  Maybe it’s the horrible destruction and flooding we’ve witnessed from Hurricane Harvey recently in Texas or maybe it’s just people forgetting to breathe and allowing the fear to take over.  I find that the more I stay off of social media, the less anxious I feel.   And so, I’m trying my hardest to keep away… at least for now.

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While my hubby is out there trying to save the neighborhood, one storm shutter at a time, I am inside asking you all to do the following:

-Be prepared.  Make sure you have supplies, water, flashlights, batteries and plenty of things to keep you and your kids busy just in case the power goes out.  Get all of your important paperwork into a safe place like a ziplock bag, just in case water gets into your home.  I’ve heard that the dishwasher is great for storing things since it’s waterproof and secure.

-Don’t panic.  Your kids will react to this the way they see you reacting.  Be calm.  Assure them that you are there to protect them and that you are doing everything you can to keep your family and your home safe.

-Stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to leave.  If you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, go… but if you aren’t, keep the roads free for those that have to leave their homes.

-Remember that building codes changed after Hurricane Andrew, so homes built after 1992 are built to withstand powerful storms.  And even if your home is damaged, it can be rebuilt.  Possessions can be replaced.  You and your family are the most important thing.  Keep yourselves safe.  Rooms without windows (large walk in closets, laundry rooms) are the best place to be.

-Don’t get on social media and post rumors.  It only makes things worse.  Instead, reassure people that they will be ok… that we will all be ok.  And if you’re a praying person, pray for everyone in Irma’s path.  We all need positivity right now.

-Don’t go outside during the hurricane. No matter how quiet it gets, no matter if the rain and wind has stopped, stay indoors until the hurricane has passed. No video, picture or even your curiosity is worth your life.  Be safe.  That’s the most important thing.

-Lend a hand.  If you are all finished preparing your home, make sure your neighbors are as well.  We are all in this together and we are all going to make it out of this together.

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My family and I will be praying for everyone in Irma’s path.  We will be locked down, keeping each other entertained and trying to be as safe as we possibly can be.  The girls really want to be on FB live to keep their minds off of things, so keep an eye out for their updates.  As long as we have power and wi-fi, we will be checking in on our FB page so everyone knows we are safe.   Thank you for all of the positive messages of love and encouragement I’ve gotten over the last couple of days.  We appreciate every single one of them, so keep em coming!