I never really understood how or why people would sign up for Naked and Afraid, only to quit on day 3.

Until now.

Extreme situations can be more of a mental challenge than a physical and the past 2 weeks, mentally f*cked with me.

Living in Florida for over 5 years, I’ve been extremely lucky to have never really had to deal with a hurricane. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew was a big threat to the Space Coast, but it stayed further East and I slept through the storm as if it didn’t even happen (I also sleep with 2 fans blowing, so it already sounds like wind tunnel in my room). I never once lost electricity, I didn’t need to use the water that filled my bathtubs, and the only thing wrong in my yard was my daughter’s Little Tikes basketball hoop that was blown over.

Irma, well, she was a whole different beast.

Hurricane Irma was catastrophic & deadly for many of the Caribbean Islands and the Florida Keys as it nailed the islands as a Cat 5 and Cat 4.

I was prepared to evacuate because many projections showed a Cat 4 direct hit to my area earlier in the week. When the natives and long-time locals get nervous, that’s when you know shit is about to get real.

We were spared the Category 4 and were on the “dirty side” of Irma where tornadoes popped up like crazy. About every 30 minutes to an hour for nearly 24 hours straight, our phones went off with Tornado Warning alerts; later I learned a few touched down in my town.

When all was said and done, we lost electricity for a total of 7.5 days (6 off, 2 on, 1.5 off) but my home had minimal damage. We are safe and that in itself, is a blessing.

Now that you know the backstory…

Here are the core lessons I learned from Hurricane Irma: 

  1. I will NEVER be on Naked & Afraid (or any survival show). Mostly because I’d just be naked and pissed off.
  2. Evacuating isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. Florida has two primary highways that go north and south: I-95 runs along the east coast while I-75 is more west. It was taking some people 18 hours to go a typical 5 hour drive. When traffic is backed up for miles and gas is sparse, being on the road can be riskier than staying. Plus, the weather spaghetti models change so often, it can be difficult to make a decision with certainty lacking.
  3. A generator is essential. No explanation needed.
  4. An A/C window unit is also essential. Luckily I have one, but many friends are adding it to their hurricane prep list! If you have a generator, you can run a window unit to at least keep one room cool.
  5. Friends are family you choose and mine saved my ass. There is HUGE strength and power in a community that works together.
  6. My mindset isn’t as strong as I thought. More on this later…
  7. Preppers are smart. Not only am I not prepared for a zombie apocalypse, I’m not even prepared for anything that would require living off the grid for more than 24 hours. From this experience, I’ve learned I need to being preparing more for a disaster. **Note:  I could survive the Walking Dead zombies, but the World War Z or Zombieland zombies? Forget about it.
  8. Trust the Hurricane Veterans and their “Pro Tips”. Some of the best tips I heard and implemented were: freeze water in ziplock baggies and tupperware so that if your electricity goes out, your freezer will stay colder long. Another was filling the bathtub with water, many of us have well water so without electricity, the well pump won’t work. Another good idea is to have a portable and solar powered battery packs for your phone! Naturally, a solar powered one would be best.
  9. The food you purchase in advance for the hurricane, gets eaten before the hurricane even comes. The beer too.
  10. Don’t use the Walmart Grocery App with hopes to avoid the crowds. They’ll run out of food before your order is ready to be picked up. (But if you want to use it any other time, save $10 with my link 😉 )
  11. Tom Hanks in Castaway had every right to make friends with a volleyball after being deserted on that island. I was losing my mind over no electricity, wifi, cell service or water… this dude didn’t have anyone to talk to and was hangry.  WIIIIIILLLLLSSSONNNN!
  Many don’t understand why I chose to live in a state with gators, sharks, humidity, mosquitos and hurricanes…to them, I say: There is a price to pay to live in any location. Florida is one of the most beautiful states filled with sunshine, palm trees, beaches, wildlife and an unique group of residents; the benefits of living here outweigh any downsides. In fact,  since living here, my overall well-being and lifestyle has improved. At this moment and time, I cannot think of another state I’d rather live in.

If you’re able to, please consider donating to the Hurricane Irma relief efforts

Global Giving Foundation: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/hurricane-irma-relief-fund/?rf=twtr

Choose a Go Fund Me Campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/Irma

South Florida Wildlife Center:  http://www.southfloridawildlifecenter.org/

Staying Florida Strong, Lauren