It’s official. The time has come for all Floridians to hunker down, as the meteorological lingo goes. Although according to Dictionary.com (link to definition), the term hunker down means “to squat on one’s heels,” an alternative meaning is “to hide, hide out, or take shelter.”
That’s exactly what we’re doing now here in Brevard County. We made our final excursion outside before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, and from what we can tell, most others in our area have done likewise.
At 3:30 PM, we streamed an impromptu weather report from Indiatlantic Beach via Facebook Live. This was after I shared a slew of Periscope broadcasts filmed this morning along the canals of Palm Bay.
I made a last-minute ration-run to my neighborhood Publix, and confirmed with staff that area Publix stores would be open until 6 PM tonight—the latest opening hours of any store in my area, to my knowledge. It is now after 8 o’ clock in the evening, so I presume 100% of commercial businesses in town are now closed. Additionally, most if not all churches and houses of worship will be closed tomorrow. Many have opted to take advantage of social media live streams from remote locations instead.
I’m afraid this blog post will be rather short. What more can I say? The whole world knows now that a major hurricane is hours away from making landfall. I don’t think I repeat that fact any other way to make any greater impact than what has already been made.
Allow me to apologize for not delivering a Facebook Live update yesterday evening. I am a teacher. My school announced today that it will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday, and possibly on Monday as well, depending on how drastically conditions deteriorate due to Irma over the next ninety-six hours. Thanks to my abruptly lightened schedule, however, I should be able to share more consistent weather updates from my area beginning Thursday morning and on through the remainder of the work week and into the weekend.
I could have posted another live video yesterday had I really been driven to do so. But I’ll be quite honest: with the projected track of Irma shifted every several hours, I am rather glad now that I didn’t spin my wheels to make another video, when whatever I would have said yesterday would end up becoming moot today, thanks for the 2:00 PM AST update from the National Hurricane Center.
Despite the ever-shifting imbroglio waged by various media outlets both large and small over the past forty-eight hours, I have consistently reminded my readers and fans that Irma had a modest but viable chance of missing Florida altogether. And now, armed with the latest data from the NHC, I feel confident enough to predict that we have already witnessed the worst that Irma will bring and that we should not experience anything near the intensity of what has already been faced by the various island nations in the Caribbean.
What Are The Facts?
The reason why I even bother to update my readers and fans is because you are the ones who told me you care. I have received numerous emails, texts, and private messages requesting news on the current situation in my area, so out of courtesy to those concerned, I want to keep you informed—minus the sensationalism the media seems to be invoking.
Let us, then, begin by asking the very important question, “What are the facts?”
Tuesday night I shared several facts about Hurricane Irma at the time. Today, more facts are known, thus expanding our discussion. I have listed the most important ones as follows:
Well, it looks as though the situation with Hurricane Irma went down today, folks.
This morning, the National Hurricane Service in Miami declared that the major hurricane churning through the unusually warm waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean achieved Category 5 status, with sustained wind speeds maxing out around 185 mph by the late afternoon, just in time for the 5 o’ clock update.
Our thoughts and prayers are needed by millions of people in the path of the storm tonight, as Irma is expected to make landfall in several island nations early tomorrow morning. The list includes Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla. Tomorrow afternoon, Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands are up next to contend with the major storm, with essentially zero time or resources left to prepare or evacuate.
Puerto Rican Landfall
We reported last night that the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, declared a state of emergency for the island. Today, he tweeted a copy of his letter to President Trump requesting a declaration of emergency for Puerto Rico and allocation of “FEMA resources” to the territory ahead of the storm.
This evening, he also tweeted about his appearance on the Weather Channel, sharing last minute tips for those who may be stuck on the island and elsewhere in Irma’s immediate vicinity.
The population of Puerto Rico is just shy of 3.5 million, and the populations of Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla are 100,000; 50,000; and 15,000, respectively. This sets the number of people directly affected by Hurricane Irma within the next 24 hours at around 4 million, comparable to the population of the state of Oregon.
Mainland U.S. Landfall
Believe it or not, there is still a ray of hope for the continental United States. Despite what the media appears to be highlighting, there is still a modest chance that Irma will not make landfall in peninsular Florida—at least not directly—and a smaller, yet viable, chance that Irma will miss Florida entirely.
Regardless of the outcome, it pays to take no chances and to prepare for the worst. Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all tourists and visitors beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at sunrise, around 7 AM, with mandatory residential evacuations beginning soon after at time yet to be determined. Area hospitals have already initiated evacuation plans for patients and the mayor of Miami, Carlos Gimenez, has called for the evacuation of all special needs residents in his area to evacuated, and for all other residents to stand by but be prepared to move.
No matter what happens, remember God is with us all. We must remain steadfast and ready, in case this situation deteriorates even further. I don’t see a major reason why it would, but we never know for sure until the storm shows up, if it does. Remember, be anxious for nothing and pray. That’s all we really can do right now. Pray. Seriously. Please do.
This afternoon, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, announced that Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm, with sustained wind speeds topping out at 130 miles per hour. The nerves of many are frayed ever thinner this evening, especially as many are still recovering from the detriment of the recent major hurricane, Harvey, which slammed the gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana last week. Thousands in affected areas remain homeless and in need of food, shelter, financial relief, and emotional support.
In response to these latest weather developments, governors Rick Scott (R) of Florida, and Ricardo Rosselló (D) of Puerto Rico, have both declared states of emergency within their respective jurisdictions, to emphasize the seriousness and severity of the impending storm. The text of Governor Scott's official order states, "Hurricane Irma poses a severe threat to the entire State of Florida, and requires that timely precautions are taken to protect communities, critical infrastructure, and general welfare of this State."
Around 7 PM this evening, I addressed my fans via Facebook Live about my intentions for the coming days. Although I said that this storm is a possible threat, I also emphasized that at this time, considering that any potential landfall is still several days out (around Friday afternoon, according to the earliest models), Irma could still change directions, and the hubbub the media is creating could merely be an overplayed frenzy. We must not lose our senses, despite the understandable temptation to do so. I reminded my viewers to not lose sleep over this situation. If you are a responsible citizen, taking the necessary precautions to take care of yourself and your loved ones, I am sure you will be fine, regardless of the final outcome.
Remember Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV), which states "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." These beautiful were given to us by the Father to inspire us, especially in our times of need and uncertainty—like we're experiencing now.
Don't fret. Take control of the situation. Take control of your thoughts. God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind. Claim that for yourself right now, and sleep on that promise. If the storm comes, be prepared and be vigilant. Make sure you keep that midnight oil burning, but also make sure you don't let the storm consume you. Let peace consume you. Share that peace with everyone you meet.
My team and I intend to remain active all through this week, updating fans and followers on the latest news on this storm. At this time, we plan on staying in Palm Bay, and will bring updates before, during, and after Irma passes through our area.
Be blessed and stay safe.
Adrian D. Holmes
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