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Surviving Irma: Lessons Learned, Personal & Professional

I'm reporting in from south Florida, thankful to be able to be in the position to share some lessons learned. But first, a word about about the "psychosis."

Everyone north of Florida seems to be terrified of hurricanes. Last year, Matthew (careful what you say) skimmed by my community and he was no laughing matter. Had he changed course a wee bit then, yes, our community would have been devastated. Of course Floridians respect hurricanes, but somehow the national news media managed to sensationalize coverage as they depicted the "horrors" for viewers in the rest of the country (as I recall from high school, this is known as "yellow journalism"). Someone showed me a media clip of a broadcast concerning hurricane Matthew in which a well-known national reporter told Floridians to get their children out or they would die.

My heart goes out to residents of the Florida Keys and in the many other communities hit by hurricane Irma.

I spent Saturday, Sept. 2, installing fiber on a campus, not knowing about the threat of Irma. I got the news when I arrived home in the evening, and the very first mistake I made was not immediately heading out to buy LP gas, water, and some provisions. LP gas and water were sold out by early the next afternoon, and provisions were quickly leaving the store shelves. Gas prices hiked, not due to Irma but as an aftermath of hurricane Harvey's strike on Texas and disruption to the supply line. Fortunately, we were able to get a spare tank filled by a gas company minutes before it closed on Friday, Sept. 8. We then put up our aluminum shutters to cover and protect our window and door openings -- a big chore (when we did this last year the humidity was so high, I really felt the pressure of my age).

As I noted last year in a post-Matthew piece, MyRadar is an excellent app to use during a weather event. It broadcasts warnings on things like tornado and floods, which did impact my community during Irma. This year I also used another app, called Barometer & Altimeter, as well as a hygrometer, which measures water vapor in the atmosphere. (During Matthew, I kept telling my family that the barometric pressure wasn't "right," meaning it never dropped enough to rate as "hurricane" -- or even within a range of what would have been normal for a hurricane directly hitting our community.)

Floridians have a plethora of information and resources available to them when it comes to natural disasters. While I had overlooked these, I do know that the annual Governor's Hurricane Conference for first responders and disaster relief agencies yields positive best practices. I saw this in the communications delivered via local news, the broadcasting of advanced warnings through email and radio, and other updates from reliable sources of information before, during, and after the storm.

Source: Wikipedia

Now to the business side of things -- and if you gleaned anything from the personal story, I hope it's to act in a timely manner because human latency can be catastrophic.

Click to the next page for lessons learned

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