hurricane_damageMom, I sure wish that tree had fallen on my car. So said son Andrew, racing from Tifton, Georgia, to his home in Atlanta, fleeing a hurricane whose name is long forgotten.

The long tall South Georgia pine tree crashed to the ground in my driveway 30 minutes after Andrew and his wife Lisa drove off; I called to tell them how fortunate they were.

Hah. What does a mother know? Turns out he and wife Lisa visualized the insurance settlement of a smashed car all the way north, staying just a bit ahead of this hurricane.

Enjoying the thrill of wind and the challenge of travel staying ahead of the hurricane, this grown boy of mine. But he wouldn’t have minded the car taking a hit in the family driveway.

Earlier that same summer–perhaps 2005 hurricane season–I left the family behind and explored Cancunfor a newspaper travel story. Fabulous hotel, gorgeous blue-green seas, day trip to the Maya site Coba.

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Then the hurricane approached and I witnessed hotel staff skilled at covering huge picture windows with plywood, securing beach furniture and eventually guiding hotel guests to the ballroom to spend the night.

Not that we could help much, but it seemed as if I should. I don’t like being a princess traveler.

We had the option to join the locals at downtown shelters. I chose the hotel and ballroom cots. Still a sumptuous buffet considering the circumstances, and videos to watch on big screens. New kind of camaraderie among hotel guests and immense respect for staff treating us graciously when surely they were worried beyond measure about their own families.

Whose needs matter most?

Discussion needed I think about travel expectations: Why should my personal needs as a tourist supercede the emotions and family needs of a resident at work wherever I might be traveling?

My second hurricane that same summer hit in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Litchfield Beach and nearby Pawley’s Island too.

No shelter that time since I was lucky enough to catch the last plane out to Atlanta. Once again, lodging staff and convention visitor bureau personnel put tourist needs first.

We have expectations for safety as travelers, perhaps even more so when traveling with our children and grands. Mine’s a blended family so I have multiple generations and ways we connect.

What might be shared needs in hurricanes? Staff and visitors.

I was impressed with obvious training and advance preparations in lodgings and attractions this two-hurricanes-on-the-road experience. Graciousness too as anxiety rose.

No longer a destination jinx, perhaps, since I’m watching Irene only on TV while I pursue two Florida coast stories to write, and this hurricane pounds elsewhere.

I took a look at preparations for St. Augustine’s 500th anniversary, thinking of taking the grandchildren to the new Pirate Museum as Irene pounded the Bahamas.While she’s wreaking havoc en route to New Jersey, I’m on St. George, the Island Dr. Beach named America’s #6 best beach.

Eating oysters while others evacuate seems unfair.

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