From time to time I like to share other views and perspectives of Mahahual from other bloggers or writers. There is a blogger that lives here that I have not met yet, but he writes some interesting stuff. The blog is called AWOL Americans. So today I am going to share his blog about Hurricane Earl that I came across yesterday. Hopefully I will get to meet this blogger one day here.
Remember Hurricane Earl 2016? Probably not since Hurricane Earl was considered a minor hurricane, didn’t affect the United States and really didn’t get a lot of media coverage. Officially, Earl was only a Category 1 (sustained winds to 95mph) hurricane for a few short hours before deciding to play nice and downgrading himself back to tropical storm status. Luckily, we got to experience those few hours and not only were they not short, I’ve got a few choice words to say about “minor” hurricanes as well. A “minor” hurricane is kind of like a “small” train wreck or “kind of” smashing your finger in a car door. Sure, it could have been worse but it still sucks.
Being from Kansas City, I’ve dealt with my fair share of tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms and various other types of destructive weather but never a hurricane. Upon moving to Playa del Carmen four years ago Deidre and I began contemplating hurricanes – what would we do? Would we stay or go? What sort of supplies do we need? What sort of preparations should we make? We contemplated it for abut 7-9 minutes and made an extremely well-informed decision. We’d stay put for a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane (winds to 129mph) or below and evacuate to some undisclosed safe zone for anything more major. This decision was made in a 3rd-floor apartment that was located several blocks from the beach in the middle of a major city and had the added security blanket of an experienced, live-in landlord. Fast forward four years, a hurricane is barreling down on us and we’re in a house just feet above sea level, all on our own, many miles from the closest major city and close enough to the ocean that that spray from the crashing waves continually gets our windows dirty. Time to re-think our strategy or, to be more accurate, actually come up with one.
Earl started out as a tropical storm, or invest, way out to sea. We watched his progression across the ocean and kept monitoring where his predicted landfall was going to be. Would it come ashore south of us, north or us, would it just peter out and end up being nothing? We didn’t want to be overreactive gringos, but we also didn’t want to be the idiots who did nothing to prepare and lost everything. We thought, maybe we should take our cue from the neighbors, but then we remembered we don’t really have neighbors. We were indecisive up until Earl moved from a tropical storm to a category one hurricane and we were in his path. We were on the edge of his path, but we were still in the zone and that was enough for us, time to prepare.
In a hurricane you’ve basically got two choices, stay put or get the hell out of the way. Hmm, what to do? We had three main things to keep safe from the storm – the dogs, the house and ourselves (probably in that order). We thought long and hard about it and realized a few things. We didn’t really have anywhere to go, no hotel was going to give us a room with three wet, hairy and smelly (but lovable) beach dogs and it’s really hard to move a house out of the path of a hurricane. So leaving was quickly ruled out and staying put was our plan. Now what? Get ready, that’s what.
The National Hurricane Center has some lovely things to say about Category 1 or “minor” hurricanes, here are some of my favorites:
“People, livestock, and pets struck by flying or falling debris could be injured or killed.”
“…homes could be destroyed, especially if they are not anchored properly as they tend to shift or roll off their foundations.”
“Failures to overhead doors and unprotected windows will be common.”
“Falling and broken glass will pose a significant danger even after the storm.”
“Coastal flooding and pier damage often associated with Category 1 storms.”
“Even though it is the least intense type of hurricane, the storm can still produce widespread damage and can be a life-threatening storm.”
Fantastic. Guess we better make some preparations. We figured our two biggest concerns would be the wind and storm surge and since there wasn’t much we could do about the storm surge we tackled the wind issue first.