Wait & worry of Hurricane Dorian with hoped-for northern turn was a nail biter

By Darlene Vann
Community Column: Musings
Headline Surfer
 

EDGEWATER, Fla. -- Dorian was another of those named hurricanes that won’t be forgotten for a long time.

For Floridians along the East coast it had been a nail biter for the better part of a week.

Hurricane Surfer PostScripts for East Central FloridaYes, we had time to prepare, but for exactly what and when we din’t know, except that it had obliterated the Bahamas and was stalled for what seemed like an eternity.

Would it continue east and make landfall along Florida's Atlantic coastline? Or would it make the turn north and head for Georgia and the Carolinas.

Thank God, it did the latter.

Not that I would have wanted the folks in those states to be subjected to this monster hurricane's might having seen what it did to the Bahamas. Thankfully, it has lessened somewhat, though it's still a major storm in the Carolinas.

Dorian just kept gets bigger and bigger as it creeped toward us at a maddeningly slow speed - sometimes just 1 mile per hour. This just caused more anxiety for everyone. The poor Bahamas was wrecked.

We all need to pray for the Bahamian people and rush supplies to them now. What is left of the Bahamas is like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

I was ready as ready could be for Dorian had she decided to make her way here with her category 5 winds of 185 mph.

I had hurricane shutters, a large house generator, plenty of food and water and a roommate to share my fears with so my nerves were somewhat kept in check waiting.

Having anxiety disorder already this interminable wait was really causing me extra nervous problems. Trying to remain calm and be sure everything got done that needed doing while waiting on Dorian was a feat in itself for me.

YouTube download / AP video / This was the situation as reported on The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Thursday, Aug. 29, which said Dorian was expected to strengthen into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane and close in on the U.S. coastline by Sunday. Officials in Florida and Georgia were urging residents to get ready. By Tuesday, Sept. 3, the category 5 hurricane had wreaked havoc in the Bahamas before finally inching its way towards East Central Florida as a category 4 having made that northern turn up the Atlantic coastline. It has lessened somewhat since then to a Category 1 hurricane now along the coastline of  the Carolinas.

Having anxiety disorder already this interminable wait was really causing me extra nervous problems. Trying to remain calm and be sure everything got done that needed doing while waiting on Dorian was a feat in itself for me.

I had hurricane shutters, a large house generator, plenty of food and water and a roommate to share my fears with so my nerves were somewhat kept in check waiting.

I feared for friends in mobile homes and those surrounded by trees that could fall on their homes and parked cars.

Many years ago, I used to work at a nursing home on the beachside of New Smyrna Beach - Ocean View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center - where I had gone through the enormous amount of work and planning that goes into evacuating a couple of hundred elderly residents to scattered places across Volusia County.

People are not aware what that entails: Each resident had to have three days worth of clothes, adult diapers (if needed).and food, as well as their mattresses, and their medicines and charts, which were not computerized like they are nowadays. Their relatives had to be notified of where they are going to be placed as well as what staff would be responsible for their care around the clock.

The receiving facilities would provide space, but they had their own residents to care for so everything our residents may have needed was to be brought to each facility sheltering them.

Then there was how to get who wherever. Those on ventilators or on oxygen were to be transported to hospitals via ambulance.

The remainder were ferried by buses or handicapped-available vans so wheel chairs could be uploaded. Some were able to be home with their families.

Before anyone was moved, however, all the facilities receiving our elderly nursing home clients had to be verified that their designated place was set, including transport.

All of this was and is still time consuming. Vehicles transporting patients had to drop them off, along with their personal items, return to our facility and go through the same thing several times over until everyone was out. It was like D-Day at Normandy.

The community owes a lot to the dedicated people who do this and provide so much care for their loved ones.

Employees except for those going to each facility did not leave the grounds until all residents were gone. Then they had to hope the beachside bridges were not closed  so they could get to their own homes, more often than not, having to rely on others to prepare their families since they could not be there all along the way for a coming hurricane.

Believe me, when I tell you having worked for 15 years at Ocean View Nursing and Rehab before leaving leaving in the mid-2000s as the director of medical records after other various positions employed, that this evacuation process was a nail biter for everyone involved - even before we were able to rejoin our own families.  

For some of the residents who didn't understand what was going on were often upset by the hustle and bustle around them, lading up to being taken from the comfort of their beds. Many got hysterical and needed someone to help them calm down. This was no easy task for them or for us.

I saw where a hospital in Brevard County was evacuating their ICU patients the other day and my heart went out to them. If you think the staff is not scared in situations like this regardless of the training, think again. They just cannot show it and must carry out their duties calmly. Trust me it is not easy.

With those past experiences, I was as ready as I can be for whatever Dorian had to offer.  Like many other Floridiansd, I prayed Dorian woulds turn north instead of slamming us, knowing that at a minimum many in Georgia and the Carolinas would lose power; that others would have major damage to their homes, but would somehow get through this.

Had Dorian continued east and not made the turn, I'm certain neighbors riding it out would have helped their neighbors because that is who we are in times of natural disaster.

We Floridians should be thankful that other states had already sent advance teams of power utility trucks and workers to restore power we most certainly woulds have lost.

We should also be thankful fo our local authorities for stationing everything where it would be needed in a hurry, the Red Cross as well that already was in motion, all the volunteers who were manning the shelters, especially those for handicapped persons and pet-friendly shelters for those who otherwise might not have left their homes out of fear of leaving their pets behind or with strangers. Many in Katrina did just that and lost their lives.

With easy access to social media such as Facebook (this is my page), many of us had the benefit of sharing prayers and concerns, knowing we are all doing our best to be ready for Dorian had that northern turn not come to pass.

Column Posted: September 7, 2019

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Short Bio

Musings By Darlene Vann
Darlene Vann is a resident of Edgewater and has been with the 24/7 Internet newspaper from the onset. She likes to write about the lighter side of life, but sometimes feels compelled to tackle some of the tougher issues.