Hurricane Andrew (1992) in S. Florida was a first natural catastrophe. I lived in Miami then but commuted to Homestead to a full time teaching job at Miami Dade Community College. I'll never forget the experience.
As a result, when Hurricane Matthew came to St. Augustine, Florida as a Category 3 storm last October, I was nonchalant but prepared. I had survived worse and coped in the aftermath. My husband and I went to a neighbor's house with shutters on windows and doors. Frankly, though yard debris was piled higher than our heads (25 people helped clean the yard), and a tree from next door fell diagonally across our driveway and blocked half the street, it was easy compared to Matthew. We lucked out as others in town lost their homes.
When Hurricane Irma was about to arrive here late Sept. 10 through 11, she was our second hurricane in a year. As a Category 1 storm, it didn't rouse much attention. We stayed home--husband, two Miami evacuees--long time friends. It was a mistake.
We lacked shutters so I was free to watch the storm through the living room window until 5 a.m. Monday when I drank a little Italian liqueur and went to bed. Lesson learned: I will not watch winds blasting through crowns of trees again. I will not sit listening to branches crashing on our roof. I will go elsewhere, I have a plan.
Yet I won't drive to inland states because I am, in the end, a Caribbean islander. Our tradition is to stay home during a hurricane. On an island there is no where else to go.
Marisella Veiga is a professional writer who lives in St. Augustine, Florida. Her book We Carry Our Homes with Us: a Cuban American Memoir was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2016.