I saw this tweet the other day that said hurricane guilt is real.
When I saw it in passing, it struck me as an interesting concept, but I continued scrolling. Like most things it quickly became a “load more” option on a feed of wild thoughts and memes. Over the past couple of days though, I can’t help but feel that the concept has stuck with me.
Hurricane Ian was meant to directly hit Tampa Bay.
I don’t live in a flood zone, but with Ian’s impending doom to Tampa Bay, I was shaking in my Jeffrey Campbell booties. It was fear of the unknown. Would my friends and family be ok? Did the oak tree in our front yard pose a threat to the house? How would our roof survive? What future lied ahead for so many of the places I loved in the Tampa Bay Area? What if we were without power for hours, or worse weeks? Was our household prepared for that?
When Ian took a turn and made landfall in Florida cities southwest of us, it changed almost everything for Tampa. The footage I’ve seen from Sanibel, Cape Coral and Fort Myers is absolutely tragic. Ian was catastrophic to those cities and here I am sitting in a home that never lost power and skipped out on damage. Our local hurricane party was able to hang out on the patio while breezes came through and rain poured down. Meanwhile the Coast Guard is rescuing people from their rooftops down south. It’s incredibly unsettling to think about what these Florida cities will have to go through in the months to come as they rebuild.
No part of me wishes Hurricane Ian hit Tampa Bay, but with the turn it did mean that other communities would suffer.
I’m grateful that our area experienced a tenth of the damage that it could have endured and I definitely don’t discount what Tampa Bay communities did go through. There are of course some inconveniences and houses without power. Luckily, a lot of business are reopening their doors today with minimal damage and full menus.
The fact that I have power and my family is intact? I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I just can’t help but feel some guilt over the fact that we could be living in a very different narrative right now had things gone the way they were originally going to. No human had any control over this, but the human emotions are so real. If you’re feeling this ping of guilt too, just know you’re not alone. I think it’s important to acknowledge that is okay and valid to feel this way. We could be living a very different reality right now.
It makes me feel good to share resources on Instagram that show ways to give back to the southwest Florida communities as I see them. I’d urge you to look for opportunities to help – locally or even in southwest Florida if you’re able to. Although it’ll take time, I’m hopeful that all communities that Hurricane Ian affected will come back stronger than ever.