Last year, Women In Optometry professional co-editor and co-founder of Distinctive Strategies and Leadership April Jasper, OD, FAAO, provided regular updates as Hurricane Matthew homed in on Florida's eastern coastline.
Eleven months later, those in the path of Hurricane Harvey are returning to their homes and offices to plan for their future as people in Florida begin to take precautions or evacuate as the monster storm moves over the Atlantic.
WO would like to hear from you. What's your recovery plan, if you were in Harvey's path? What are you doing now, if you're watching Irma's approach? We will post updates periodically from Dr. Jasper on the eastern side of Florida and Katie Gilbert-Spear, OD, MPH, WO professional co-editor and co-founder of DSL, who is on the western side of the state, and encourage you to reach out with your story via text (540 226-6369) or email (email@example.com), if you are able.
Dr. April Jasper, 9-10-17 10:00 p.m. eastern time. West Palm Beach, Florida
So the day started with 45mph gusts and steadily increased to 70 mph constant winds and 90 mph plus gusts.
We took video of a group of birds walking down the street as if it was the norm. It's crazy that at ground level the wind is so much less.
Our neighbor's Jacaranda tree split in half and fell on his power line at 4 p.m. and our power went out at 6 p.m. We are still getting 80 mph gusts with constant winds of 58 and it is 82 degrees outside and dark.
At least we are safe and together. Who knows what daylight will bring other than 92 degree heat.
Our prayers are with our friends on Florida's west coast.
Tomorrow we hope to begin clean up at home and office and pray for electricity.
Dr. April Jasper, 9-8-17 7:30 p.m. eastern time. West Palm Beach, Florida
"We were just alerted to the first tornado warning. We are in our house under curfew. It started at 3 pm, and we are glad we still have power. Heat index was 102 today and 75% humidity. I started the morning with a four-mile walk to the ocean with David. Waves were picking up and surfers were out.
"We made another trip to the office before curfew to make sure we didn't miss anything. We put more plants away at home and emptied more ice into coolers preparing for the dreaded heat and life with no electricity.
"I am not complaining though because it looks like we might have been spared the worst of it. I will be grateful if all we end up with is no damage and just the inconvenience of no power.
"Keep praying with me for the storm to weaken and spare Floridians."
Dr. Harry and Jannah Landsaw, 9-8-17 Tavernier, Florida
Dr. April Jasper, 9-8-17 8:30 p.m. eastern time. West Palm Beach, Florida
"Today brought us more time to prepare. Final grocery, ice and fuel run. Home Depot closed at 1, Target at 2 and gas stations were closed already yesterday. If it weren't for the fear of potential destruction of business , home and friends' businesses and homes, it would be nice that we are forced to all chill out and enjoy each other. Comcast opened 147k hotspots to everyone for free so we all have a little wifi but no one has enough to actually work. Traffic lights came down around 2 pm, which means you really need to stay home. We drove to Palm Beach to see the water (ocean). It's beautiful. Sunny, blue skies and waves the surfers rarely see. You'd never know a storm was barreling down. We pray to be spared disaster but are sure to pray for all of Florida to be spared.
The full moon and season of two high tides per day make it even more concerning for storm surge yet we do what we can to prepare and then we wait. Rather than waste food, which will thaw if we lose power, we shared frozen food with neighbors. One more night of good eating before a potentially horrible hot week with no power.
We are here for each other. All of us in the path, plan for the worst and pray for the best!
Dr. April Jasper, 9-7-17 5:30 p.m. eastern time. West Palm Beach, Florida
Hurricanes definitely are on their own timeline. The one thing you can count on is change and unpredictability. We are three days out (we think), and they are saying now not to try to leave the state because they can’t be sure you will have enough gas to make it. I have friends on the interstate to Georgia for what is normally a 5-hour drive, and they are being told to count on 24 hours. The last thing anyone wants is to be in a car with kids and no gas and no food while a hurricane goes through. It is such a difficult time. Everyone is working diligently to prepare their homes and offices. We're moving things to interior rooms away from windows and covering with tarps to keep out the water if the roof or windows go. It is difficult to know what to do so we all just make the best decisions we can. Patients have not been coming in for exams; however, they are picking up glasses and frantically picking up contacts. We are glad to have contact lens inventory to help them.
A big thank you to Alcon for helping us get a patient who evacuated and forgot his contact lenses a box of contact lenses sent for tomorrow’s delivery and to Art Optical for working with me on a keratoconus lens for a patient with vision in only one eye. I felt bad for the customer service rep as I started crying on the phone out of despair for this patient. He was trying to put up his shutters and take down his antennae and lost his lens and so all his work was on hold waiting for the delivery of his lens. The lines at the gas stations are backed up so far at the pumps (all night and day), that the delivery trucks can’t get through on their normal schedules. I sat at my office all day waiting, even though the office was closed and finally his lens arrived. Thank you to everyone for working hard to save the day for our patients/friends. We continue to pray that all of us will be spared.
Dr. Katie Gilbert-Spear, 9-6-17 5:45 p.m. eastern time. Pensacola, Florida
This side of the state is quiet although there is a water shortage from Harvey and after people panicked yesterday when it looked like it might swing into the gulf. People here are still wary of hurricanes even though our worst storms, Ivan and Dennis came over a decade ago. They were so bad and it took so long to recover any potential threat is taken seriously. Also the longer we go without one the more we feel we are "due" for one making us nervous if there is any threat.
We will be praying for other Floridians and housing many as I know of several who are evacuating to this area.
Dr. April Jasper, 9-6-17 4:30 p.m. eastern time. West Palm Beach, Florida
"It is hard to believe we are preparing for what could be one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit Florida and people are still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. My heart is sad for the devastation of those in Texas and for what people already are dealing with in Florida just in preparations. The majority of our patients are already cancelling in preparation. The stories of people fighting in the stores for water and batteries are sad. It is awful having to deal with the emotional, physical and mental stress of preparing, waiting and just not knowing what is next. It should be a time to remember each other and help each other prepare. I find it much easier to deal with if I concentrate on others instead of myself. Help your neighbors now. Help them prepare, help them evacuate and help them be calm.
"I will continue to pray it goes out to sea and harms no one else."
For tips, advice and our coverage of last year's Hurricane Matthew, read updates here from Dr. Jasper, as well as Karen Wolf, OD, and Amanda Lee, OD.
Kerry Giedd, OD, MS, FAAO, offers advice on storm preparation.
Sarah Harbove, OD, reflected on past hurricane damage during Hurricane Matthew last year.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Pixabay