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  1. Opinion

Hurricane season is here. Time to consider fleeing Earth.

Stephanie Hayes | If that’s not in the cards, follow these simple steps for preparation.

I have terrible news. Hurricane season starts June 1, which is very soon despite the fact that time is a construct we no longer comprehend.

Anyhoo, Floridians have been dealing with a pandemic like everyone else and may have lagged on tropical readiness. But we must be vigilant. Scientists are forecasting a more active Atlantic season than usual, with a possible 19 named storms.

The Tampa Bay Times’ hurricane guide publishes on and in print May 31, with actual lifesaving tips and essential information. Do not miss it. Until then, here is a handy manual for getting your personal affairs in order.

Home improvements

Homeowners, definitely upgrade to hurricane windows. You have considered it since the 17th century, but the time is now. Retrieve the flier someone handed you at Costco. Invite “Brian” for an estimate at a socially safe distance. When he demonstrates energy savings by holding a warming lamp to the window sample, respond with awe. When he tells you the windows cost $30,000, say you will think about it. When he asks how he can get your business today, say something like, “Brian, you can give me $30,000, how about that?”

Examine the fence. Hurricane Irma took the gate in 2017, but it broke rather cleanly so you have been calling it a “Euro entrance.” Decide how many more panels you can reasonably lose before you are sharing one big yard with the neighbors. Could you make a fresh start on a quaran-team commune? Spend hours on Wikipedia researching Utopian societies. Move on to YouTube videos about vegetable gardens before realizing it is 2 in the morning.


It is important to stay in touch with friends and family in other states. When they frantically Facebook you at the first sign of weather disturbance, remind them that Jacksonville is 200 miles from Tampa Bay on a different coast, and that Brunswick is not in Florida at all. Then share an easy recipe using canned biscuit dough to smooth things over.

Single people, can you shelter with someone? Now is a great time to rank your friends and choose a storm buddy. Who lives on high ground and will mostly leave you alone? When you just want to read, will the friend force you to partake in candlelight Celine Dion karaoke as a way of coping with anxiety? I am this friend, so do not stay here.


Make copies of important documents in triplicate. Since you might not be at the office now and can’t steal time and supplies, dig 2004’s 48-pound printer out of the closet. Hook it up. It is out of ink. Order ink. Explode the ink on your hands. When your family asks what’s wrong, through tears yell, “WHAT ISN’T WRONG?” Apologize later during a heart-to-heart about the stress of these unprecedented times.

Stock up on water and non-perishable food. You may have done this at the start of quarantine, when it still sounded fun to eat Velveeta shells and cheese for 14 days. Add flashlights, a first aid kit, a whistle, maps, Sudoku books, a copy of the Bill of Rights and Articles of Confederation, a box of hair dye, three passports, a burner phone, a grappling hook and the nuclear codes.

You also will need toilet paper, but that… shouldn’t… be… a… prob...

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

Lessons from Hurricane Michael

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind