A couple of years ago we helped buyers from St. Petersburg, Russia, to purchase a house on Daytona’s Beachside. They were in Russia when Hurricane Matthew hit, and knew about hurricanes only from neighbors. Majority of what they hear is that it is no biggie, you can sit n your home, and that it is sort of fun.
And it worried me immensely. The problem with hurricane is that people pay attention to the magic numbers, i.e. the category of the hurricane. So, a common belief is that Cat 5 Hurricane is strong and dangerous, but Cat 3,2, and, of course, 1 Hurricanes are not a big problem.
In reality it is only true if you compare the force of winds in eye of the Hurricane. It might be more dangerous to be in the eye of Cat 2 Hurricane, than 80 miles away from the eye of Cat 5 Hurricane. And often time people do not understand it.
While these are slow moving systems, and there is plenty of time to evacuate, so in this sense Hurricane are less dangerous than earthquakes and tornadoes, but there is still quite an element of unpredictability.
I remember August 13, 2004, when everybody was expecting Hurricane Charley to hit Tampa. Tampa residents drove to Daytona. Our hotels were full. And then Charley changed course and hit Punta Gorda as Category 4, and crossed the state and hit Daytona as Cat 1 hurricane and caused a lot of damage.
In Tampa they were showing a beautiful sunset, and empty streets of a largely deserted city.
And in Daytona hotels lost power, no AC, and people were stranded in tiny spaces watching water seeping in through the window mounted AC units.
This time our clients were here. They refused to leave. They were excited…
Hurricane Irma changed the course and brushed the west coast of Florida, for the most part sparing Daytona area. And when I yesterday called them, I expected bragging. Boy was I wrong… My friends were fine, kept squeezing towels to keep the water from coming under the sliding doors. They lost a few sections of the fence, but it was the attitude that surprised me. They told me that this probably was the most terrifying night of their life. That sitting under the stairs because of continuous warnings about the hurricane, they figured that they have one life, and no property is worth losing it, and that this was their first and last hurricane that they rode off in the house.
And I am glad that they learned Hurricane Irma’s lesson.
It could have been much worse.
Image by Marco Verch via Flickr.com/creativecommons/