To most people in the world, it’s just another date. To a particular group of people located in the Gulf Coast this day was a disaster. The flood came out of nowhere and there was no way to have prepared for so much rain.
I remember the day’s events well. Tuesday morning on April 29th I had work. The sky was dark and the rain was steady. I thought surely it was just a typical Florida rain shower because it happens all the time, everybody knows that. But no, it lasted all day long and continued throughout the night.
When I clocked out, it was around the hour of 4 or 5 o’clock pm. I sprinted from the store’s entrance to my vehicle in the middle of the parking lot and arrived safely inside my car completely drenched from head to toe. As I pulled out onto Davis Highway, I made the conscious decision to NOT take the interstate home, which was my normal route. The lightning flashed constantly highlighting my path home. The road was covered in inches of rain easily. I sat hunched over my steering wheel squinting my eyes to see through the glass windshield, past the wipers moving at the speed of light and beyond the wall of rain. I was blind.
The weather was so terrible I had to drive twenty miles under the speed limit and then finally made it home to shelter. I was scared.
The wind shook the house. The rain drummed on the roof. The lightning was an all night strobe light. I wasn’t sure if I was safe.
It didn’t help that my mother called me saying there was a tornado spotting downtown. I ran into my closet and waited for about ten to fifteen minutes and I was still alive.
I was one of the lucky ones. My home didn’t flood and our roads didn’t wash away, but there were 3,200 other homes and businesses ruined.
I said it once and I’ll say it again, this storm was a freak of nature, it was the five hundred year storm, it was the epitome of what “once in a blue moon” really looks like. As residents of the panhandle, it is our responsibility to be smart and prepare accordingly. Living so close to the beach is a luxury but it is also dangerous. It’s important to make sure your family is as safe as possible.
In a situation where you may not have been prepared and a disaster does catch you off guard, do not fret! There are people here to help! There are businesses here to help!