The old geezer:  We were lucky

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The old geezer:  We were lucky
(Photo by P.J. Hughes)

By Rachel Giordano

On Sunday, Oct. 7th, the Panhandle was informed of a tropical storm brewing out in the Gulf. Like so many storms before, some were not worried.

Hurricane Michael turned out to be Hurricane Ivan’s bigger and stronger brother, and the people of Pensacola got extremely lucky, only they did not know it quite yet.

Hurricane Michael tore through Florida on Wednesday, Oct. 10th, just missing the Pensacola area. The people of Destin and Fort Walton Beach were spared, as well. The category 4 hurricane shifted to the east just before making landfall, and the people in Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach got slammed.

They were not the lucky ones.

As I watched the news on Tuesday evening, I thought to myself that they (the media) were making a mountain out of a molehill. “They want ratings,” was my initial thought.

I hate to admit this because I know they are doing their job––it is their responsibility to report the news and keep us safe. However, I have seen times where they get everyone up in arms and beside themselves with fear for no reason.

On Wednesday, however, my thoughts changed.

This hurricane resembled Hurricane Ivan from 2004. That monster category 3 hurricane slammed into Gulf Shores and the Pensacola area showing absolutely no mercy. The beast was supposed to make an eastern turn, but instead, it went west. The people in these areas had little time to prepare and many stayed to “ride it out.”

Many people died due to Ivan. The destruction was massive.

Hurricane Michael was eerily similar to Ivan in the fact that he came out of nowhere and progressed very fast. How fitting is a hurricane called Michael hitting in October? (Cue the theme music from John Carpenter’s “Halloween”).

Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage to Panama City and Mexico Beach. Homes were destroyed. Gas station awnings were lying on the asphalt. Homes in Mexico Beach were submerged in water all the way up to the rooftops. A house floated down the street in Panama City, a reporter capturing the unimaginable event. Cars and semis were tossed around like rag dolls.

My fellow Pensacolians, we were lucky.

There was a bout of panic, as the storm did not seem to be making that easterly turn that the meteorologist kept reassuring it would. I heard people say, “This is exactly what Ivan did! The thing is not turning!”

In the end, the storm did exactly what the meteorologists said it was going to do.

(Cue applause).

I know, I know, I am sounding pretty harsh. It’s only because I feel that they over-exaggerate and play the “media hype” for ratings. With this storm, maybe I’ll rethink.

Perhaps we are better equipped to predict such storms now than in the past (Ivan). Or maybe it just wasn’t our area’s time to be hit by such a catastrophic hurricane.

I am very grateful that Pensacola was spared, but also feel a deep sadness for those impacted. So far, the mortality rate is ever-changing; last I heard was 27 deaths with over 1000 still missing.

Hurricane Michael has shown the Panhandle no mercy.

As a drone flew around Mexico Beach to bring to light the damage, my eyes dampened. A pile of rubble that was once a resident or business was reduced to what resembled a pile of tongue depressors, the devastation enormous.

I say again.

My fellow Pensacolians, we were lucky.