The Two Things I'm Carrying With Me As I Evacuate Hurricane Irma

What would you take if you had to leave?

evacuating hurricane irma

This morning, my scale said I lost 3 pounds. Normally, I’d be happy, but I’m not. 

That’s because my loss is from the “Irma hurricane diet”  an unappetizing mixture of fear and worry. 

I live in Miami Beach and Irma, a category 5 hurricane the size of Massachusetts, is headed our way. 

Florida is 160 miles at its widest point and Irma is more than 300 miles wide. This will be, potentially, the most destructive hurricane to ever hit Florida. So I must evacuate my home and head to safety.


Years ago, while in grade school, my teacher asked the following question: “If you had to leave your home in a hurry and could only take 2 items, what would you take?”

I vaguely recall mentioning a favorite stuffed animal and treasured pair of shoes. But that question was merely an exercise to stimulate our imaginations.

This morning, however, I had to answer that question for real.

The first item I grabbed was my viola. 

When I was young, I played extremely well but stopped after high school to move onto other pursuits. Subsequently, my viola gathered dust in my closet for 23 years. Several years ago, I pulled it out, put it to my chin and pulled the bow across the strings. I could still play and it felt amazing! 


My skills were quite rusty, so I began to study with a wonderful teacher who helped me immensely. I now play in the Alhambra Orchestra, Miami’s community symphony. My viola has a special place in my heart. It represents a personal accomplishment that fills me with immense joy. I wanted to keep that by my side.

My second item was my great-grandfather’s Kiddush cup — an antique, silver goblet he filled thousands of times with a syrupy, red wine to bless the Jewish Sabbath each week. I wrapped it lovingly in a soft towel and placed it into my small carry on bag.


And then I cried…

What will I return to? Will my home still be there? We have windstorm and flood insurance, but I don’t want to use it. 

I want my home to be the same as I left it. To look as it normally does when I come back from a weekend away. I want to see my messy office desk and the pile of books on my nightstand. I want to enjoy the paintings my husband hung crookedly with love. But this may never happen.

This storm is predicted to be five times more powerful than Andrew, a category 5 hurricane that hit south Florida 25 years ago.

Most of my friends packed up and drove to Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, or Orlando.  


Unfortunately, others decided to brave out the storm at home. I fear for them. 

Irma is going to hit hard and trigger a frightening storm surge of 5-10 foot waves. The hurricane is going to cross the entire state, so every Floridian must find a safe and secure place to be.

My husband, a physician, is riding out the storm at his hospital. I’m at my mom’s assisted living center in a nearby community. It is a safe complex that has a generator, plenty of food and water, and isn’t in an evacuation zone. 

If you are in a hurricane area, please do all you can do to be safe.


The storm will be very frightening, but I think I’ll be fine.

Mom’s home planned a whole weekend of activities for its residents — bingo games, films, and even an Irma Hurricane party. During calm moments, I hope to toast to Irma’s fast departure with Great Grandpa’s Kiddush cup, play a few tunes on my viola, and possibly dance a jig or two to help me lose a bit more weight.

Janis Roszler is a therapist who specializes in diabetes-related sexual and relationship issues. Her blog articles and books can help transform your intimate life. Have diabetes? Learn how you can reconnect sexually with the one you love. Read Janis’s books, including Sex and Diabetes: For Him and For Her and follow her on Twitter.