It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Friday, and normally, my week would be winding down for the weekend.
But Florida reporters have eyes on Hurricane Dorian, and so does the rest of the state.
We all remember Hurricane Charley in 2004.
Everyone makes fun of spaghetti models, colorful predictions of where the storm may go.
Nobody sees the hours of calculations and science that goes into the ability to do that spaghetti plot.
When Charley hit, we had just a few hours to get prepared. As Floridians, we underestimated that storm.
By day, at Lake Wales Medical Center, I was a customer service rep.
But all of our business office titles changed.
Disaster duty for us, it was.
None of us complained. We wanted to help. It took the edge off our nerves.
I filled many hats. Talked to employees and their kids congregated on the floors in the hallways outside the cafeteria.
As the storm roared, the walls of the large building began “breathing.”
A group of food service workers began singing. People were praying the Lord’s prayer. Children were fussy.
“Hey, you’ve got to come see this,” said one of my friends. “We’ve got horizontal rain.”
That was a first for me.
Suddenly, a man and his wife literally blew through the front doors, soaked to the bone and frantic.
They had come to the center of the state to get away, and were in the middle of it.
There was a dead silence in the middle of the night after Charley passed.
Disturbing, the quiet was.
There were no cars. No lights. No air conditioners could be heard. No distant factories.
Daybreak was welcome. None of us slept. That was before my journalism days, though.
Walked out to Highway 60 in Lake Wales.
Usually a busy highway, populated with business, medical, housing developments.
“It looks like a third world country,” I told my coworkers at the hospital.
For a week, none of us went home. I helped manage the daycare for employees’ children. Did not sleep for three days, and when I started to fall in the hospital dining room, a coworker caught me and said, “you are going to lay down now.”
No sooner than my head hit the makeshift bed on the floor, than I was fast asleep.
Hurricane memories abound.
For those of you in Dorian’s path, stay safe. Stay calm. Be nice to one another.
And we will have many stories to tell of how we all made it through.