Great news: our house, and our lovely city of Naples, weathered the storm of Hurricane Irma. We are extremely lucky to report no real damage to our house other than screens knocked out of our porch and some trees down in our yard. Now all we have to do is get back home. You’d think it would be an easy decision to head home after the storm, but unfortunately there are some issues that have me constantly humming The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.
Get caught up on this story by reading our evacuation story. We left Naples on Wednesday, September 6th when Baby Max was only 4 days old!
After the storm hit on Sunday morning, I actively started to plan our return home from Daphne, AL where we’ve been visiting my dad and stepmom. As much as we’ve enjoyed family, I was ready to pack up and leave Monday morning. After all, our house had power and water. Why not head back, right? I didn’t think about gas shortages, crazy traffic jams, backed up sewage, or limited grocery supplies. All I wanted to do was head home to sleep in my own bed and get back to normal after having a baby.
By Monday, day 6 of our evacuation vacation, we learned that the majority of the state was still suffering from a gas shortage. All Florida ports, with the exception of Pensacola, were damaged and closed, meaning no gas shipments. With many reports of mile long lines at gas stations, we made the decision to wait a couple of days before returning to Naples.
We took the kids to a park and talked about our plans to return home soon. As much as Tom and I like to have a phone free relationship when we are together, we found ourselves on Facebook to keep up with the Collier County Government and Collier Emergency Management pages for updates. We were those parents at the playground who kept losing their kids. Case in point: I didn’t even take a cute picture of them playing.
On Tuesday, day 7, we looked at the traffic reports and realized that with only 3 major roads into the state, and millions of people trying to get home, it might be best to stay in Alabama a little longer.
We made the best of the day and took the kids down to Gulf Shores for a morning of mini golf and lunch at LuLu’s Grill.
Spirits were high because we knew we’d be heading home soon. We kept seeing reports of no gas, water, or food in Naples, but figured it would be better by the time we returned home.
Wednesday afternoon, day 8, we started packing up our suitcases and buying water for our trip home. We planned to leave Thursday. Roads were clearing, rumors of gas stations actually having gas were going around. The GasBuddy App confirmed this! Many of our friends had made it home with no issues. Then Wednesday night we read the news that I-75 may be closed due to flooding in the Santa Fe River. We decided to postpone our trip home by at least another day.
To pass the time, we visited 5 Rivers Delta Center for some outdoor education.
We learned all about the 5 rivers that make up the delta before hitting Mobile Bay. The scenery was gorgeous.
We didn’t check social media or the news much because we figured things were improving in Naples. How could they not be getting better?
On day 9, Thursday, my sister, her boyfriend, my mom, and brother decided to brave the journey back home. We read an article about the Santa Fe river receding so we figured we’d be able to leave by Friday morning. Tom and I started making plans to leave.
We took the kids down to Bayfront Park for a walk on a trail by the bay to enjoy our last day in Daphne.
Then we got a text message from a friend about dysentery. We already knew that there was a boil water notice in effect, but we had no idea how bad the issue was. I texted a friend of mine that works in the hospital and he confirmed that there have been cases of dysentery. On top of that, I started reading news reports that warned Naples residents to stop flushing toilets because the sewage is backed up. There are articles about raw sewage backing up into the streets. Even social media was full of people warning us not to come home.
Friends that had stayed in Naples during the storm were leaving due to overflowing sewage in the streets.
The Collier County Government shared information about Meals Ready to Eat, free water, and cooling stations located around the county. Schools have delayed start dates several times. Only 6 of the 54 schools currently have power.
Today will make day 10 of our evacuation. We left with a 4 day old and now he’s nearly 2 weeks old. Max has spent more time at his grandfather’s house than he’s spent at his own house!
I’m certainly not writing this to make people feel sorry for me. The truth is, life as an evacuee with a newborn isn’t too bad. I’ve had lots of family around to help, I’ve yet to cook a meal, and someone is always available to help entertain the bigger boys. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my dad and letting the boys get to know there “GrandBob” a little better.
I don’t often consider myself a writer. I’m a blogger, a storyteller, and occasionally a freelance travel writer. My evacuation story isn’t exciting. It isn’t well written. But it’s a glance into the craziness that has happens while being displaced during a natural disaster. My priest from Trinity by the Cove wrote an email to parishioners encouraging each other to share and listen to each other’s stories. It’s a way of coping and healing. I’m not the only one who has been in a constant state of not knowing what to do next. Many of us are confused and anxious about our next steps.
Currently, we are waiting around for our city to be safe enough for a newborn. This has been a nice trip, but I’m ready for the waiting game to be over. For now, I’ll just keep singing these lines to myself:
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know