For the past 40 years, we have lived in South Florida, in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), immediately north of Miami-Dade County. Our home is approximately ten miles from the Ocean, at an elevation of approximately six feet above sea level. Normally, this would place us in a fairly good situation for the so-called “Average” Hurricane; however, who knows what “Monster-cane Irma” will be packing, when she comes ashore?
There are also so many intangibles that cause one storm to differ from another, in addition to the size and strength. Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, several years ago, during a combined full moon, high tide and storm surge. The triple whammy! Hurricane Harvey’s strength was enhanced since it was carried directly up Galveston Bay. Similarly, Katrina was positioned dead-on to devastate New Orleans’ levies in 2005, as well as travel straight up Mobile Bay, in Alabama.
Much of the evacuation orders in South Florida have been for the barrier islands—such as Miami Beach, and the Florida Keys—and other low-lying areas on the Mainland. Barrier islands, by the way, are the protective areas that Nature has given us, as well as various wetlands. Of course, real estate developers have profited nicely by building luxury high-rise condo communities along these islands. In essence, developers have been building million dollar homes on the railroad tracks, and now, here comes Hurricane Irma!
Besides the obvious flooding that low-lying barrier islands attract—and that’s sometimes even on sunny days for Miami Beach—remember that the sea water, seeking its lowest level, generally inundates the other side of the island, as well. That means that many bridges and causeways—the primary escape route to safety—might be submerged. But, as many Beach luxury condos have plenty of underground parking, your escape route might be blocked before you even start. Oh, and you’ll enjoy descending the 20 flights of stairs in the dark, wheelchair, walker and all.
No doubt that you have seen the devastation that Monster-cane Irma has already wrecked on numerous Caribbean Islands. (See NY Times article below.) Keep in mind that many of those islands are very small, with little or no infrastructure or public services, and the buildings are often made from quite basic materials with uncertain building codes. However, no one really knows, as yet, what the direction, wind speed, storm surge and speed with which Irma will first impact Florida—and when she will leave.
Stay tuned! Perhaps later today, as I have time on my hands, I will let you know why I feel relatively comfortable in staying put.
NOTE: As I publish this post, I just saw that Irma’s wind currents are spinning between 145 and 150 mph. If it touches the mountains of Northern Cuba, that might slow it down a bit more, and a slight “wobble” can shift it from its anticipation path—right up the middle of the State of Florida. Time will tell!