I went toe to toe with Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022. This was probably the craziest day of my life.
After 48 hours of anticipation and anxiety we were on the receiving end of a furious storm, pummeling our house with 100mph winds for hours and hours and hours.
A storm we thought would miss us, came and punched us square in the nose.
This morning, the sun rose, and I am grateful for today.
To be here.
With my family.
With four walls and a roof.
And just 40 miles to the west of me, things have completely disappeared.
And as I process through this, the thoughts that ring in my ears are bitingly poignant clichés about how precious our moments are.
How delicate and fragile we are.
How we need to continually to return to what really matters in this very short, very crazy, very beautiful life.
And of course, being an actuary, I am thinking about uncertainty and risk.
You Try to Think Ahead
I am very much aware that being able to write this blog today has quite a lot to do with luck. There is probably another worse disaster scenario that has me writing from an emergency shelter, and an even worse scenario that has me permanently silent. There are also favorable scenarios, where I am commenting on this recent storm from a long distance away.
However, having gone through it, a lot of other decisions have paid off. We chose to live inland over the coast, we chose to buy a home that was built for extreme weather, and we chose to have alternate energy sources. There are still several decisions that would have helped us even more, but at some point you make your bets and let the game unfold.
Risk is everywhere. It is not always a category 4.99 hurricane. But it is there and preventative stuff makes a huge difference. Choosing to save over spend. Choosing broccoli over burgers. Protection and prevention isn't always fun or sexy, but to have peace of mind when you need it most, is absolutely PRICELESS.
You Try to Make the Best Decision You Can with the Information You Have
- Underestimating the severity of a risk. I think all our neighbors and us wanted this thing to just blow right by. We were hoping for it to behave 'typically' running northward at 15-20 miles per hour instead of the 8-9 mph crawl.
- Overconfidence in abilities. I have lived though earthquakes, tornadoes and near wildfires. And while my natural disaster BINGO card is practically full, I am relearning that relying on your experience in past risks doesn't always translate to NEW risks.
- Wanting to minimize immediate impact. Packing up and hitting the road felt like a much bigger task than riding out the storm. With kids, dogs, and not knowing about traffic, gas availability and lodging, our decision was admittedly influenced by the convenience of staying put.
- Side note: three of our potential bug out options would have not helped us very much. So even choosing to bail out might not have paid off.