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," it seems to have a whole new effect on people.
People forget how to drive when it starts raining. I saw many people driving with their flashers on (which is illegal by the way) while going 15 under the speed limit. Schools were canceled and businesses were shut down, even though the bulk of Tropical Storm Gordon didn't come through until that night.
Yes, there's a lot of rain during a shorter amount of time, but the way you react to it 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. Stores were running out of water, generators were flying off the shelves and everyone was boarding up their windows. What I found amusing is how most people bought more water than they probably drank in the past two months.
As everyone was standing in the checkout line at Lowes with their generators and flashlights, I was buying supplies to paint my room. One woman asked me if I thought it was going to be bad. I just shrugged, 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 Wal-Mart 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 you're the only one who is prepared.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-4353.