With my housemates away for two weeks, my plan was to rest and relax then perhaps do some projects around the house. My anticipated quiet time came up against a Category 5 hurricane named Irma, and Irma definitely had center stage.

Right after dropping my housemates off at Miami International for their flight, I started to notice reports that a Category 5 hurricane was possibly heading straight for the southeast coast of Florida. As dire news began to fill the airways, my gut feeling told me to take this storm seriously.

After work last Monday, I attempted to purchase all the hurricane supplies I would need to secure my house. Feeling very clever, I decided to avoid the crowds at Home Depot by ordering my supplies online with home delivery for the next day when I returned from work. What took place next was yet another sign that things would not be going as planned. My online orders were canceled, with directions that such items as plywood would have to be purchased only at store locations. Bastards!

Next came the long lines at gas stations, the rush for the last grocery items on store shelves, and of course the all-important stop at the liquor store for the vital additions to the hurricane supplies.

Then the real work began. Bring everything inside, board up house, ride out storm, bring everything back outside, remove boards. Add to that equation the debris clean-up, no electricity, fence repair, pets, back to work, heat, exhaustion, and so much more.

Residents need a serious vacation after going through all that. My plans for stress-free quiet time turned into two weeks of hard labor. I tried to soothe my exhausted self with the notion that hard work is good for the soul, that I was relieving stress and getting needed exercise.

However, with no A/C or Jeopardy at 7:30, the idea of cleansing my soul just wasn’t cutting it. My soul is doing just fine and as for reducing stress, have you tried driving in South Florida without traffic lights? All the hard labor in the world will not reduce that type of stress. Hopefully, my sweat-soaked clothes at least had the benefit of my body sweating out some of the toxins that somehow find their way into my system.

Many thanks to our city staff who worked so diligently to get our city ready for the storm and then getting it back up and running afterwards. So many people on our local city level, county level, and others, play vital roles for our residents that often go unnoticed. County workers called for shelter duty, police personnel, fire, and EMT’s who remain on duty throughout the storm, CERT volunteers, and so many other workers who must perform needed functions while their families are left to ride out the storm without them. These dedicated public servants deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

All in all, our great city of Wilton Manors came through the storm in good shape. Some residents are still without power, some do not have cable or internet service, and some have damage to their property. We are very lucky that the storm did not come directly at us. Otherwise we would be dealing with a very different post-storm reality. As we deal with the inconveniences caused by Irma, let us remain grateful that we are alive, our families are safe, and that we still have our homes and our neighbors to enjoy. Our hearts and prayers go out to those in the Keys, the Islands, and Texas who have virtually lost everything.

As we clean-up and move beyond our encounter with the wrath of Mother Nature, let’s continue to work together, helping those in need, checking in on elderly neighbors and doing good for our community. This way we can continue to guarantee that life will remain just better here.