Hurricane Hysteria


Lorelei Woodward

Panic ensues as people fight over food in Target aisles finding all the shelves completely clearing of any food. Nearby, lines of cars formed with people who were desperate for gas to top off their already filled tanks. Photo courtesy of Lorelei Woodward.

Hurricane Ian, the Category Four storm originally predicted to make a smashing entrance on the Tampa coast not only brought with it an increase of rain, it also brough a whole lot of crazy. In my experience, there are 3 types of Floridians during a hurricane — the cool, calm, and collected Floridian, the frenzied prepared for any situation Floridian, and then there’s the Floridian who is floating down the street in an innertube high fiving alligators with a cold drink in hand. 

Hurricane season lasts from the first of June to November thirtieth, that’s not to say the pesky little storms won’t show up past their due date. For a calm, level-headed inhabitant of this swampland we call Florida, that means plenty of time to prepare. These rare breed of humans often have a “hurricane supplies box” filled with canned foods, flashlights that actually work, spare batteries, packs of bottled water and much more. Their tanks are filled with gas and their trees are neatly trimmed to avoid any loose branches flying through a window. And let’s be honest, these are the people who have those beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, built in hurricane shutters to protect their windows. If the storm ever does come their way, you can best believe they’ll be getting their full eight hours of sleep at night.  

Now welcome to crazy town because this is where it gets wild. At the first whisper of a storm so far from land it is impossible to tell whether it’s even coming to the United States at all these Floridians flock to the stores in an all-out panic like a stampede of wildebeests. They run from aisle to aisle clearing the shelves of anything that may prove useful. “Cans of mushed peas? I’ll take thirty.” Running out of gas is the last thing they want to occur, so they hastily fill their tanks, trashcans, purses, even pots and pans with as much gas as they can secure.  

After completing the Amazing Race of a shopping spree, they move into step two of hurricane (aka mere thunderstorm): preparation. That’s right folks, it is time to board up the windows. Using every available piece of wood, and a few Lincoln logs from the kid’s toy trunk, they block all light from entering their humble abode.  

One sleepless night, they decide to purchase a giant underground metal bunker to shield them from any zombie attacks that may arise due to the storm. These Floridians are practically the poster people for the “Just in case” movement. Remember everyone, if you pass them on the street do NOT make direct eye contact. They will bite. 

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is the “whatever happens, happens” type of people. These Florida natives refuse to even watch the news, we aren’t sure they even know a storm is coming to be very honest. The most preparation they seem to do is make sure the fridge is stocked. Embracing the ways of their ancestors, these Floridians can be seen out by the lake fishing, hook, line and rod swaying in the 85 miles per hour winds. If you take a peek through your carefully boarded windows, these people may be out surfing the storm surge or dabbin’ up the gators in true Florida Man fashion.  

While there are many levels of extremism to hurricane preparation, I think it is safe to say that no one does hurricanes quite like Florida.