Waiting for a hurricane is like parachuting without a parachute: you don’t quite know what’s going to happen.
That’s how Barbara Paetsch-Lewis puts it, calling it a “chaotic calm.”
Originally from Regina, Paetsch-Lewis has lived in Florida for the past 17 years. She was there for Hurricane Wilma and will now be there to endure Hurricane Irma.
“We’re probably as prepared as we’re going to be because it’s really uncharted territory right now,” she said.
Paetsch-Lewis and her husband have spent the last few days getting ready for the big storm – closing up her office, buying whatever food, water and gas she could.
“People are scared. Some are panicking then there’s others like us that are just sort of hoping and waiting,” she said.
Paetsch-Lewis is riding out Hurricane Irma in a situation many people might dread: alone. Her husband is in a secure area at his office in Fort Lauderdale, while she’ll be at home in Pompano Beach – alone.
But it’s not all bad, she said, adding that she’s blessed. Paetsch-Lewis lives in a brand new two-storey condo, a rarity in an area where many people live in just one-storey homes. She also has hurricane impact windows, meaning she’ll be able to watch what happens.
That’s little reassurance for her family in Regina, who she said were “hysterical” about the situation.
“I think it’s scarier for those that aren’t here,” she said.
Not that she wants them to be with her, although some very well could have.
It was just Tuesday when her husband and daughter-in-law left Florida. They’d all gone on a cruise to the islands that were just trampled by Irma.
“I was elated when they were gone. I love my children but I would not want them to be here,” Paetsch-Lewis said. “(My family) all wanted me to leave … I couldn’t. The airports are backed up, the highways are backed up.”
To reassure her family, Paetsch-Lewis said she will Facetime them whenever possible to show them what it’s actually like.
Most importantly, she said she’ll remain calm.
“If you panic, you’re going to make a wrong mistake. Panic’s not going to help anybody out here.”