Before I start, yes, we are fine! Actually, I would say we are better!
We live in a huge concrete building located by Biscayne Bay, and we were under a mandatory evacuation order. Despite all of the advice and stories shared by friends and family, we decided to stick around and ride out the storm at home. And not because we are rebels. We stayed for many reasons. First of all, for us it did not make sense to get in the car and start running away from a storm that was well expected to be bigger than Florida and to affect neighboring states as well. It honestly made us more terrified to imagine being stuck in a standstill with millions of Floridians trying to evacuate at the same time, with gas shortages along the way and countless hours of a drive that in regular conditions is already 7 hours long just to get out of the state. We imagined the impact the roads were going to have and how long it would take us to be able to head back home. Again, it did not make sense to us. We did the math and tested every single scenario. At the end, Miami was always our best option. And that is because, and pay close attention to this one: if you ever have to go through a hurricane, you would be lucky to go through it in Miami.
As a developer, I prefer to design systems that are able to auto-reconfigure themselves in case anything fails. I’ve found that sometimes there’s nothing else to do but to be prepared for recovery. Sometimes it’s impossible to prevent things getting damaged, but if you are prepared for recovery, then you have nothing to worry about. Just like Miami.
Last year when Hurricane Matthew was heading to Florida, I noticed how locals were marked by Hurricane Andrew (1992). Everyone who went through Andrew had a story that made their eyes watery as you mentioned the name of the hurricane. It’s like they traveled in time. Hurricane Andrew left a scar in Miamians. They rebuilt their city after Andrew and promised their structures would not be compromised like that by a hurricane ever again. Ever since Miami went through Andrew, everything changed for them: not only from the outside, but also from the inside. In fact, Hurricane Andrew changed buildings codes not only in Florida but in all of the US.
In recent years, the city has been preparing by elevating its roads (60% of Miami Beach’s roads estimate to be elevated enough by 2025), re-building its seawall, installing more pump stations, improving its drainage systems. But this doesn’t end here.
Last week I read FPL performed a projection of the equipments that were going to suffer damages as Irma passed by, and I was surprised to read FPL already went ahead, prepared and sent to safe areas nearby, not only most of the spare parts they were gonna need to fix the damages, but also the team in charge of performing these repairs. Again, how many cities are better prepared than this one?
Having people monitoring realtime, thinking and planning for hurricanes as a procedure to reduce their impact in all different departments of the city, makes all the difference. I would like to stand up, hats off, and congratulate the work done by all of the different forces involved in this event, from Gov. Rick Scott, the FPL, FEMA, volunteers, and everyone else involved.
I would dare to say Miami’s hurricane procedures and all the team behind it makes this a city where a category 4 hurricane can be easily compared to a category 1 hurricane elsewhere!
I’m going to finish saying we are glad we stayed. We really are. And not only because nothing happened or because we don’t have to drive back home along with the rest of Florida in what could be the most painful road-trip of our lives, but also because we managed to connect to our neighbors and our community. It’s pretty possible that we have made more friends during this hurricane than during our time living in MIA. Plus, we had a great time!
After this entire experience, my main takeaway is that if you find yourself in Miami during a hurricane and the place you are staying in is safe enough (like a big building with shutters or hurricane impact windows), just be prepared with food, provisions and maybe extra batteries due to possible power outages. Besides that, just sit back and relax, because you are in the best city to spend a hurricane in.