Anthropology student flies out of South Florida to avoid storm

Melissa Muiznieks / Contributing writer 

Let me start by saying that, yes, Irma was a serious storm, but the number of changes and disruption to my daily routine were quite annoying. But hey, we survived and we are stronger for it. Plus, can you believe how amazing our fellow FIU faculty, staff and students were for keeping the Monroe County evacuees comfortable?

To say that Hurricane Irma was a mild storm is an understatement. For an anthropology student from Trinidad & Tobago that rarely (more like never) gets hit by them, it’s the scare of your life. I remember it clearly: it was Monday, Sept. 4 and I was reading a random article that talked about the category five hurricane heading our way.

I bought groceries and thought to myself, “Great. More money is coming out of budget to get supplies!”

I was scared to stay on campus because I wasn’t sure how safe Parkview was until my RA assured me it was. Annoyance filled me because I had plans for the following week and I knew they were going to be affected. My parents were blowing up my phone trying to figure out what I was doing and I was a hot mess. I understand that they were back home in  Trinidad and worried for me in Miami, but I still needed time to figure things out.

Preparations were being made, like buying water and nonperishable foods. I thought I was staying on campus until last minute changes happened on Tuesday, Sept. 5 night. I was all stocked up on water, my tins of tuna and sweetcorn when my roommate said she could take me up to her house an hour from campus. That Wednesday, we drove north, leaving FIU behind.

As the day passed, we made preparations to keep her house safe from dear Irma. I felt so grateful that they took me in until my anxiety began to kick in again. We were resting when my roommate told me of her family’s plan. They were running from the storm with good measures because at the time, it looked like Irma would directly hit Miami and the areas around it. So again, I moved while they went north. My cousin picked me up from my roommate’s house to go to her home in Coral Springs that same evening.

During this time, my brother was calling me, trying to organize things and trying to keep me calm, which only made things worse. When I reached my cousin, I thought I was safe until more changes were made. My brother finally got me a ticket to fly up to Orlando to be with him.

On Friday at 4:30 a.m., t-minus 2 days, several alarms woke me up to make sure I didn’t miss my taxi or my flight. The night before had been pure anxiety as I was saw a potential track heading straight for Orlando. All I thought was, “I have to be with my brother.”

I finally reached Orlando and a sense of calmness washed over me as my brother picked me up from the airport. On Saturday morning, my brother told me the good news that the hurricane was heading in a more north-west direction.

Irma was was my first hurricane ever. I’ve only been in Miami for two semesters now and in Trinidad & Tobago, we only get tropical storms and earthquakes. I was scared honestly, especially at the fact that so many Floridians had a chill vibe to them. If they were freaking out like me, they surely hid it well.

My motto is, “If you’re calm, worry. If you’re worried, be calm.” It’s something that has been true to me always. When I was calm, something bad happened. But when I was worried, I was fine. Just like in this case, I was worried beyond belief and yet, I was safe.

Melissa Muiznieks / PantherNOW

Melissa Muiznieks / PantherNOW

In the end, I’m alive and well and though cliché, this hurricane truly shaped me. It taught me that change has to happen and that I have to go with the flow. I can’t sit and wait for it to plow me down because I’m too scared to go on a flight. Thanks to this hurricane, I’m more knowledgeable on what to do and won’t be as scared as I was. I know now that I have to remain calm and as soon as the semester starts, I’m stocking up on supplies. All I know is that I was spared and I am forever grateful for it.

Everything went back to normal, at least according to Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The power was back and school was starting in just a few days. If it weren’t for the trees that were uprooted and the missing letter F FIU outside library, I would never thought that the a natural disaster had just struck.


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