Well my last post, I talked about the Jewish New Year and turning 55 and finding my voice as an artist. Well, what I failed to mention was that Hurricane Irma arrived on my birthday.
It was the first time that I realized that I might loose everything with a Cat 5 storm approaching. When my kid sister called me and asked “What is worse then a Category 5 Hurricane?” and my answer was, ‘Nothing, it is totally devastation, nothing survives”.
My husband was looking at me as I spoke those words into the phone. I hung up and we both realized that we needed to make plans for an evacuation. We were not afraid of being in the storm, we feared the aftermath. We had to make a plan. We knew we had 24 hours to get everything in order. It was too late for us to leave, we would be stuck on the road and heard that most of the state had no gasoline.
The first plan was how to get my in-laws, elderly and one in a wheelchair to safety, and the second was to get my husband to a cancer center to continue his treatment. The husband and in-laws would head to Atlanta and me and the dogs would go back to family up in Philly or NYC. Our hybrid cars could get us to the Georgia line without refueling, so we mapped out a route going up the east coast, the west coast and up the middle of Florida. The next was to secure as much as possible for my business. Photos of all my inventory & equipment. My art studio was the hardest. The building was built before hurricane code and I knew nothing would be survive. I took my favorite painting, kissed my mezuzah and shed a tear. My next stop was back home to prepare for the worst.
As we secured our home, my husband was busy putting up storm shutters, and I was busy getting survival gear in place. Kerosene lamps, axes, tarps, ropes, first aid supplies, filled the safe box with all important documents, cash, and any valuable that we felt we had to have. We only packed the car with the basic essentials of personal items and the rest with food, water and supplies to survive a road trip with 4 adults and 3 dogs. We watched the news with the updates and just hoped for the best. We decided that if a Cat 5 hit, and my biz or home did not survive, we would leave Florida and never return. Lucky for me, my husband and I think on the same path and practice non-attachment. Stuff is not important, our lives are. Everything is insured and can be replaced. His parents need to be in a safe place and he needed his treatment.
Lucky for us the storm turned and hit us at a Category 2. When we awoke the next day, we quickly went to my biz- all okay and then to the art studio. I had been through 8 hurricanes in my life but I was holding my breath as we turned onto the street of the art studio. With so many trees down and lights out, I was certain that my art studio was damaged. But no, it was still intact and it was also the only building with electricity. Wow was I lucky. Our home, art studio and biz had all been spared. But others had not been, so we went around the community to assist those in need with supplies (my town had no power for some up to 3 weeks) food, cash and keeping people informed via social media if there power was on and was their home okay to return to.
But I realized that I live at ground zero for climate change. In Florida our hurricanes are getting to catastrophic size or intensity. Ground water is starting to rise up and cause local flooding. Red Tide is getting worse each year causing large scale fish kills, air that is not breathable, and loss of income to the businesses that rely on the tourism. Our summers are getting hotter and our winters are getting colder, which causes issue to the citrus groves and farming community. It goes on. So a few years back I had started a series about water and the affects of climate change. I realized that of all my work, it was the best received. So I have decided to go back to that. I do care about the environment very much. I have a hybrid and now an electric car, I re-purpose and recycle, I am mostly a vegetarian and I really make an effort to live a compassionate and conscious life. So I had my voice all along.
So I guess it took an almost tragedy for me to find my voice that I was there but did not realize it was the right one.