With all the rain we get during the rainy season, you'd think Floridians would be used to it. But once you tack on the words "tropical storm," the rain seems to have a whole new affect on people.
People seem to forget how to drive when it starts raining. I cannot tell you how many people I saw driving with their flashers on (which is illegal by the way) while going 15 under the speed limit as Tropical Storm Gordon made its way through our area. Schools were cancelled and businesses were shut down, even though the day after the storm seemed to have more rain and flooding.
Yes, there's a lot more rain during a shorter amount of time, but the way you drive or react to rain shouldn't change simply because the word "tropical" is placed in front of "storm."
Panic or complete disregard seem to be the two main reactions when a major storm threatens.
I remember last year, when Hurricane Hermine was threatening to hit the Gulf Coast, everyone went into panic mode. The local grocery stores were running out of water and canned items, generators were flying off the shelves and everyone was boarding up their windows. What I found amusing is that a lot of the people buying 16 cases of water probably drink more Diet Cokes instead of water on a regular basis. But when a hurricane is threatening the area, they find themselves needing more water than they've drank in the past two months.
As everyone was standing in the checkout line at Lowe's with their generators and flashlights, I had paint and supplies to paint my room. One woman turned to me and asked if I thought it was going to be bad. I just shrugged and pointed to my paint supplies and said I wasn't worried.
I tend to be on the indifferent side of things when it comes to storms. I’ll have a game plan and an emergency kit ready, but I’m not going to stock up on cans of Spam and bottled water unless there is a real, imminent threat. Most of the locals I know have “hurricane parties” and use the day off work as an excuse to drink and socialize. Some people might call that careless, but others just shake their heads and say “that’s Florida for you.”
In all seriousness, I agree with the “better safe than sorry” mentality and I’m glad that people prepare and take precautions. But I still get a good chuckle watching the traffic back up at the entrance to Walwart and reading Facebook posts about where you can find bottled water. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one chuckling when a serious storm actually does hit and no one besides you is prepared.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-4353.