In the US, there are storm chasers who drive into storms for scientific studies, curiosity, adventure, etc. But I have the uncanny knack of getting chased by storms. Two years ago, Chennai was flooded. I was marooned in the city without power, transport and communication facilities. Last year, cyclone Vardah lashed the city and I was grounded again without power and all the attendant inconveniences. Recently, when I went to Miami in America, I thought I was safe from nature’s fury. Unfortunately, that was presumed too soon. Along came monster hurricane Irma.
My host prepared to face the fury of the approaching catastrophic storm. My host’s wife and children flew to a relative’s place in California to avoid hardship to kids due to flooding and power outages. I stayed put with my host bragging that I had experienced the fury of nature back in Chennai.
Water bottles were bought. A few gallons of milk were stored in the freezer. Loaves of bread were also stocked up. Batteries, flash lights, vegetables and fruits were stored sufficiently in case power went off for a few days. Cars were locked up in the garage. Aluminium sheets were screwed on to protect glass doors and windows from shattering due to high velocity winds.
As we waited for Irma to arrive, local authorities suggested citizens to leave the area of the storm. People living near waterfronts and flood prone areas were asked to move into storm shelters. Those who could find friends or relatives in northern cities moved away from the path of the storm.
Unfortunately, the hurricane kept changing its course. Initially, it was predicted to hit the east coast of Florida. But, after it lashed at Cuba for a little longer, it decided to take the route along the western coast of Florida for destruction. People who moved from east coast to west coast were stranded because of short notice.
Because of the enormity of the storm, all areas of southern Florida got a taste of the fury of mother nature. Trees and poles fell down. Power failed in many cities. The administration imposed curfews in storm-hit areas. Amazingly, the repair machinery, be it government or private enterprise, restored public utilities in record time.
Everybody complied with government directions. Consequently, loss of life or injury was minimal. Citizens were also not expecting the government to do everything. People removed debris in front of their houses and from sidewalks so that they could walk on footpaths and vehicles could drive on.