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OPINION

Double the angst

By Tim Croft
The Star

Raise your hand if the weekend’s weather reports caused some flittering in the stomach. 

Stand up and be counted if hearing them caused the heart to travel a tad closer to the throat. 

Raise a glass, of water of course, if the reports about not one, but two potential hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, caused parchment of the throat. 

I have to feel I am not alone (at least I sure hope not or a straightjacket is in my immediate future) in having a bit of the rumbly-tumblies (yes, not a word) over the weekend. 

Now, as of this writing, it appears that Gulf County will avoid any real impacts from Laura or Marco. 

But, as we all learned during Hurricane Michael, the tropics are where accurate forecasts and computer modeling go to die, so this edition of this paper may never hit the streets. 

Consider our brilliant plan when Michael was a tiny storm headed this way on a Monday. 

Why not wait one day to print, come out on Friday instead of Thursday, and get some up-to-date storm coverage in there? 

What an ingenious plan, we patted ourselves. 

And then Michael actually arrived on Wednesday and destroyed those plans and so much more. 

The power was out for days and our next edition delayed by two weeks. 

So, planning is not a be-all and end-all, I am here to testify. 

My wife and I were pondering over the weekend as we watched the forecasts, an intellectual exercise only, about where we might go or what we might take should we need to evacuate. 

And, of course, quickly realized that Michael had eliminated the latter from any consideration and the former was a foregone conclusion. 

My wife and I got incredibly lucky after Michael. 

The mother of a child in my wife’s classroom at North Florida Child Development provided my wife with a potential contact for housing. 

Michael took all that we owned on 13th Street and distributed it around the neighborhood. 

At the time my wife made the call we were standing looking at what once was our abode, car and belongings, what we could see gilded in mud. 

I overhead a bit of the conversation and turned out I knew the individual on the other end of the line. 

I had done a couple of stories with she and her husband; fortunately, they liked me, not an inconsequential detail in my business. 

I wish at this time to withhold names for two reasons. 

One, they may not like one word written here and in that case my wife and I are on the street (just kidding, but...). 

Secondly, and most importantly, I am not positive they would enjoy any attention. 

I live by the rule that I look askance on any club that would want me as a member. 

But, family and friends (emphasis on friends) bridged the gap perfectly and, let us call them Georgia and Minnesota, have taken care of us, literally, ever since. 

They have defined for me the meaning of community, of folks who simply watch out for each other, not because they are asked, but because their heart leads them. 

So rare these days. 

Sorry, temporary tangent. 

Anyway, for me, to hear the recent weather reports was to relive what was the single scariest day of my life. 

The earliest “L” storm by a couple of days, the earliest “M” storm roaring ahead of it and both in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. 

They were giving me PTSD. 

Two storms in the Gulf hasn’t happened since like the 1930s or something, but who cares about the number. 

When they are in the Gulf all bets are off. 

Any of us who lived through Opal or Ivan already knew that, Michael drove the point home with emphasis. 

And as we traverse a record-breaking storm season, as storms become more intense, more cataclysmic, the wonder is we still have the science deniers. 

Those who do not believe we have done a thing wrong, or damaging, to the only planet we will ever have or know. 

I was reading a Bill Bryson book recently (for uninitiated, highly recommended) and he wrote a fact I still have trouble wrapping my mind around. 

The Earth, this planet, has all the water it will ever have or had: there is no planetary re-supply. 

So, when I think of Louisiana and New Orleans, which is already giving way to the Gulf, taking a one-two punch from storms of even minimal intensity, one’s heart drops. 

Just as when pondering that a country, Bangladesh, a half a world away, is sinking into the ocean. 

That Miami and Venice also slowing slip into the ocean. 

Marco and Laura are their names, simple, straightforward. 

What they and the hurricane season portend seems a lot more complex and worrisome.