After surviving Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten, four days after the hurricane hit, on September 10th, we were evacuated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. We sailed on Adventure of the Seas to Aruba, disembarking and overnighting there. The next day we arrived at the airport in plenty of time to fly from Aruba to Charlotte and then on to Raleigh. Our family would meet us at the airport at midnight, so eager to finally see that we were truly safe. But one, then the second American Airlines planes both had mechanical problems, and we were not sure when we would finally be able to leave Aruba. So, we waited.
Finally, an announcement was made that the mechanical problem had been resolved on the plane that had arrived earlier from Charlotte, and we were ready to board. Screams of relief could be heard as we made our way to the gate. The boarding process went quickly and smoothly. We were in the air about 8pm headed to Charlotte. We would stay overnight in Charlotte, scheduled on an early flight to Raleigh the next morning.
We arrived in Charlotte around midnight and the American Airlines staff at the gate were ready for us. We were given vouchers for food and a hotel confirmation and were told that our bags would remain at the airport and boarded for our flight the next morning. We picked up an amenity pack and boarded the hotel shuttle that carried us a few miles to a Days Inn. After about four hours of not so good sleep, we were back at Charlotte Douglas International airport. I used the food vouchers for food that could travel with us. Our flight took off from Charlotte uneventfully and arrived in Raleigh on schedule. Our ordeal was almost over. We were soon to be home.
I have felt joy many times in my life, but none more heartfelt than the joy of seeing our daughter and granddaughters waiting for us as we came into the public area of the Raleigh Durham Airport. Tara, Mary Grace, Elsie, and Virginia were holding, “Welcome Home Nana and Dr. Danks!” signs. (“Dr. Danks” is their special name for Mike; the story about that another time). Daughter Chatham picked up our luggage and Dr. Danks and drove them home, while I rode home with Tara and the girls. At home, there were many other “Welcome Home” signs, as well as balloons, fresh flowers, and a special treat for Dr. Danks. Mike loves pork rinds and there was a bag of pork rinds on the kitchen counter for him!
There was much hugging and tears; we were finally home! This was Friday, September 15th. Hurricane Irma had devastated St. Maarten early in the morning on Wednesday, September 6th. We had been evacuated from St. Maarten on Sunday afternoon, September 10th. It was now Friday, September 15th, and we were back home in Raleigh.
In addition to feelings of joy, I had other emotions. Feelings of relief were dominant, as well as physical and emotional exhaustion. Feelings of sadness came later. Then depression. But for now, we were enjoying being safe and home with family.
Mike was not on the same emotional roller coaster. He rebounded from the Hurricane Irma experience quickly, seeing it more as an adventure than a crisis. I will not judge that or even analyze it. Mike left on a business trip to Taiwan less than twenty-four hours after we arrived back in Raleigh. I understood completely that he had to make the business trip, and was glad that he was able to get home in time for that.
I spent the next few days enjoying being home, letting Tara and the girls, Chatham and Johnathan, and MoMo cook and care for me that weekend. This was the only time that I remember being unable physically or emotionally to care for others. I needed being cared for by others and gave into it.
Then Monday came, and everyone’s schedule had to get back to normal. Everyone’s but mine. I had a new normal.
This blog completes the “Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten Experience” written as a blog. The blogs written about this experience have had much interest. Some people have even written and/or said, “You need to write a book about this!” I have decided to do just that and to have the book for publication in early 2018. The Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten experience resulted in so many lessons, so many more than can be chronicled in a blog. I will keep you posted.
Thank you so much for your interest; it is appreciated more than you know.