I am riveted to CNN today, worrying about all of the people who decided to or were forced to stay in coastal LA, MS, AL and the Pensacola area. I keep thinking of the New Orleans Zoo (one of my favorites), and wondering what happened to all the animals. How do you evacuate an elephant? I pray for the safety of all of the animals and people of the Gulf Coast. I hope everything that is wonderful and unique about New Orleans doesn’t get swept away.

My colleagues don’t seem very affected by it all, but to people in Vermont, a hurricane is probably as foreign to them as a tsunami.

I’ve lived in South Florida on-and-off since 1989. So I’ve been through my share of hurricanes, including Andrew when I was in high school. Andrew was originally forecast to hit us directly but turned south at the last moment andMiami bore the brunt of its wrath. I remember going to bed the night that Andrew was supposed to come wondering if there would be a roof over my headwhen I woke up. We got lucky. The people of Miami did not.

Right around this time last year, Adam and I were hunkered down in a hotel in New Orleans, having fled Florida just ahead of Hurricane Frances. For 10 days we moved from hotel to hotel in Tallahassee, New Orleans, and Jackson, Mississippi waiting until we could go home. I remember how scary it was not knowing if my friends and family in the area were safe (my parents, living 10 miles west of us, had stayed) and if our home would be intact when we got back. Luckily everyone and everything was fine other than the fact that we had a very stinky refrigerator (word to the wise: when fleeing a hurricane, make sure to completely clean out your refrigerator in anticipation of a long power outage). That same month, we were forced out of our homes again for Hurricane Jeanne, though this time we decided we couldn’t afford to stay in hotels and we stayed with my parents. We lost power and had to bake in muggy rooms devoid of any light thanks to the hurricane shutters. It was so hot and the wind so loud that there was no way we could possibly sleep. The stress one goes through at times like that is tremendous. And these storms weren’t nearly so bad as Katrina. My heart goes out to everyone being affected by this storm.

Me in New Orleans
me in my “home away from home” in New Orleans last year trying to concentrate on school work.

Those hurricanes were the primary reason why I hardly bothered to look for a job in Florida. Adam and I didn’t ever want to go through another hurricane season again. I’ll take 20 degrees-below-zero wind-chills and 5 feet of snow over a hurricane any day. Being here safe and dry, when so many other people aren’t, makes me realize how amazingly lucky I am.