I grew up in Northern California. I lived through the 7.0 Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989. It lasted approximately 15 seconds. For a high school student the destruction was incomprehensible. It took years to rebuild. It was also 100% terrifying. The image above is of the Cooper House, a downtown landmark. I loved going there as a kid. There were wacky levels to walk to reach the different stores. A WHOLE store of Lisa Frank stickers (go ahead – shout it out if you know what I’m talkin’ about!) and they played music on the patio.  Beautiful stained glass windows. It was destroyed in the quake and what was left of it was demolished for future redevelopment.

My sister has lived in Miami for about 20 years. I had an Aunt that lived on Singer Island for as long as I can remember. I saw the devastation hurricanes could cause. With the earthquake experience always living deep down inside me, I proclaimed (picture me on a soap box with a Scarlett O’Hara accent – it’s much more entertaining that way), “I shall never live anywhere with an entire SEASON dedicated to a NATURAL DISASTER.”

Hi. My name is Erin. I live in South Florida.

So this week was my first hurricane experience. I described it to my California friends as someone saying, “There’s going to be an earthquake. Either a 3.0 (like a truck driving by) or a 7.0 (1989 devastation). Just wait for it.” In Texas I experienced a few tropical storms. I remember watching those and thinking, “I do NOT want to be in a real hurricane.” I started prepping early in the season with water and batteries. When the warnings of Matthew became more serious I bought more soup (mmmm soup), we topped up the gas tanks, and dragged everything from outside, inside (my patio table is stunning in the family room). I was fairing well and then on Wednesday a friend of Jerry’s who has lived in Florida for years called and suggested we evacuate. Even though we were confident we would be ok at home, this suggestion made me a little anxious. Then I watched the news. NO – IT’S COMING STRAIGHT FOR US! YES – It’s turned away! (repeat like 1,000 times). The neighborhood homes and businesses boarded up windows and it was eerily quiet. We waited. Waited some more. Ooohh – a little rain – then nothing. Watched a movie. Had an early dinner (in case the power went out – darn electric stove). Watched the news. Ooohh – some wind – then nothing. Watched another movie. Finally went to bed. Matthew passed us by.

Trust me; I’m not complaining. I know we were spared. If the storm had shifted just a little to the west I’d be telling a different story today. The good things: We’re safe. My sister in Miami is safe. My wonderful friends and clients are all safe. We learned what we need to do to be prepared. As I write, the storm is still making its way up north, where I have more family, including some new baby twin girls. So I hope Matthew continues to be gentle. We hear you Mother Nature.