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Enduring Irma: A Humorous Approach

San+Marco%27s+roundabout+became+a+lake+during+the+flooding.
San Marco's roundabout became a lake during the flooding.

San Marco's roundabout became a lake during the flooding.

Bugle staff

Bugle staff

San Marco's roundabout became a lake during the flooding.

Gabriel Bassin, Chris Hanna, Chance Thomson, Contributing Writer

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Mitchell Henshaw ‘20 learned about the hurricane ten days in advance of its arrival, but didn’t consider it as a threat until a few days before.

Brandon Boyle ‘18 didn’t worry about the oncoming hurricane. In preparation, he “put a trashcan out to collect rainwater for flushing toilets and filled the tub for drinking water, and that’s pretty much it.”

Wyatt Kogan ‘18 found himself sitting in his house with his family, pondering what to do. In previous years, Wyatt and his family braved all the hurricanes that came through, including Hurricane Matthew. His family had adopted the Floridian mindset on  hurricanes, in other words known as: “We aren’t leaving.”

Tim Hu ‘18 found himself with nowhere else to stay except the riverfront boys’ dorms at Bolles.

Hurricane Irma created problems for everyone at Bolles, but students resolved their problems and got back to life through perseverance, luck, and a good sense of humor.  These are the stories of four of those students.

Henshaw, a sophomore, lives in Ponte Vedra, a high-risk flood area, Zone B. After his first hurricane experience, Matthew, Henshaw wasn’t as worried about any problems that might occur with the next.

However, his family decided to evacuate five days before Irma’s arrival, worried that all hotels would be booked. His destination: Atlanta. This was the plan until the day before departure.

The Henshaws went to the South of Eden Plantation in Thomasville, GA instead. “It seemed like the easiest place to go that would be safe,” according to Henshaw.

South of Eden wasn’t safe from Irma.

When asked about his family’s opinion, Boyle replied, “We didn’t think it would really be bad.”

When the hurricane arrived, it “came at night, so I kinda slept, though it was loud. I definitely heard this one tree fall on my house. It damaged it but it didn’t go through. We got an inch waterline up the walls from seepage, some roof damage, and no power for a while.”

For Kogan, days progressed forwards into more brutal rain and wind, and without power they resorted to reading along with good old-fashioned talking. Kogan said, “I mainly just read when we lost power, stuff like Walking Dead comics and a bunch of other sci-fi stuff.”

Irma isn’t Hu’s first rodeo, in the October of 2016 he dealt with the impact of Hurricane Matthew. He was not excited to stay in the dorms through another hurricane. However, Hu said, “They were much more prepared this time.” He also said, “During the next few days of the hurricane, the cafeteria had power to charge phones and stuff to make hot food.”

The food situation wasn’t that bad at all compared to Hurricane Matthew. Hu said, “The food last time was heated-up pasta.”

In Thomasville, Henshaw found out the storm they were running from, was chasing them. “It was kind of a shock when we were like, ‘we are actually going to get hit where we evacuated to,’” Henshaw described.

His family’s reaction: discuss returning. But the bridges over the Intercoastal Waterway, the only way to reach their barrier island home, were closed.

After losing power, South of Eden Plantation distributed complementary food, opened up the main house, and helped their guests. This was fortunate for the Henshaws as they only had one box of Cheez-its, a couple of nut mixes, and a few sodas for four people.

In preparation for the hurricane, the Kogan family followed the instructions of the workers that managed the septic tanks. They completely drained the tank. What the workers forgot to mention was that “we needed to fill it half way up with water so it didn’t float out of the ground.”

When the ground saturation became more and more intense, the Kogans encountered a serious issue. The toilet. Wyatt Kogan said, “when you see this thing sticking two feet out of the ground surrounded by grey water, that’s concerning.”

 As the storm went on, the magnitude of the event revealed itself. Wyatt Kogan said, “When you don’t have a bathroom, you have to make do.” Kogan’s biggest takeaway from the hurricane when having to use a bucket as a restroom is “like a game of Russian roulette.”

As Irma was starting to hit, the campus lost power. Hu said, “The power went out on Sunday at midnight almost exactly.” Hu continued, “We gained power back during Monday in the middle of the day.”

Even though the school had safety precautions in place, Hu wanted to experience the storm in a more personal way, “I mean, I violated the rule, on Sunday night (you weren’t supposed to open the window) I opened the window. You could actually hear the hurricane outside intensifying. It blew so fast outside, that it created like an air tunnel inside of our room. Our door was smashed open.”

Monday night, the Henshaw family returned after learning that the bridges had been reopened. Their pergola fell down, but it wasn’t a big deal.

In comparison to Matthew, Henshaw figured that, “there was an increase in people staying because they felt like they weren’t going to get hit because they didn’t last year.” Henshaw still thinks he’ll evacuate in a similar situation since it is “the safest plan.”

After the hurricane passed, the Kogans were still left with serious issues. Kogan said, “we couldn’t use sewage for almost a week.” When the Kogans finally were able to get help fixing the septic tank they were shocked. Kogan said, “We had to pay five K ($5000) to fix it.”

Kogan said, “Overall, the septic tank coming out of the ground was the highlight of my hurricane experience.”

For Boyle, “ If I did anything differently it would be to actually tape up our windows so we didn’t get seepage. The flooding surprised me most- I think everyone was surprised by that- it was pretty bad.”

Last year Matthew, and now Irma: we know that another hurricane is on the way. To follow the lead of the Lakewood United Methodist Church, which most students drive past on their way into school, it seems to best way to cope is with humor.

 In the weeks after Irma, the church billboard read, “All welcome but Maria.”

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Enduring Irma: A Humorous Approach