We moved to Florida in the year 2000 and to Orlando in 2002. Hurricane Irma was our second “really big” hurricane, after the 1-2-3 punch of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004. When it comes to hurricane prep, Orlando itself (theme parks excluded) has very few differences with other mid-sized cities – the supermarkets, drug stores, home supply shops and gas stations are inundated with people try to get supplies to either ride out the storm or to prepare their homes before they evacuate.
A few airlines lowered one-way fares out of Florida to reasonable amounts (kudos to JetBlue and their $99 fares to get people out of the state, as well as their $99 fares to get evacuees back into Florida in the days after Irma!). After being accused of price gouging, some other airlines (*cough* Delta, United *cough*) lowered their one-way fares out of Florida from thousands of dollars to just a few hundred. Delta did redeem itself a little bit though. They are retiring their fleet of seven 747s from domestic travel and after what was to be their last scheduled domestic flight between Los Angeles and Detroit on September 5th, they decided to add two more flights, from Orlando to Detroit, to get nearly 700 passengers our of harm’s way.
And with all the fear and uncertainty of Hurricane Irma, there was some warmth, too. You may have read that Kristen Bell, who is most well-known as the voice of Anna in Disney’s blockbuster animated feature, Frozen, managed to secure a hotel room at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for the parents of her Frozen co-star, Josh Gad (she was in Orlando while filming her upcoming movie). However her altruism didn’t end there – you can click here to see all the things she did for the residents of a local nursing home who were evacuated to her hotel, such as call BINGO numbers, have wheelchair races and do some old-time sing-alongs. Oh, and that request you may have seen she put out on Twitter for a keyboard, amp and accompanist? She “made lemonade out of Irma” and performed for a bunch of folks in a nearby shelter who were unable to stay in their homes as the hurricane lurked closer. Here’s the 12 minutes of footage from the accompanist who was able to help in a pinch:
It’s one thing to make a monetary donation to help those in need, but it’s quite another to give of yourself. What a sweet, caring, giving person Kristen Bell is!
Post-Irma, Orlando is working its way back to normalcy. Some Orlando residents are still waiting for power, but that, along with other utilities, will eventually be restored. Our thanks goes out to those working round-the-clock shofts for the various utility companies, and we give a HUGE thank-you to utility workers from other states who have come to the affected areas so we can get restoration of our water, power, internet, etc. that much more quickly. Orlando International Airport has a limited but ever-growing schedule of planes arriving and departing, more and more stores, restaurants and gas stations are able to open their doors each day, and the big theme parks re-opened rather quickly after the storm was done, although some cleanup is still being done to some areas (by the way, Fort Wilderness is NOT being closed permanently – that’s a hoax. However with all the trees they have there, that area will take longer to clear out). We’ll recover; we have before and we will again. But for those who went above and beyond to help during the preparation for Irma, and now during the aftermath, we thank those who helped make it just a little bit easier.
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