A few nights before Irma struck, our friends came by with their two 'tween aged children. They were heading out of the Keys to evacuate prior to the hurricane. I had so much anxiety, by this point we all pretty much knew Irma was coming and it was going to be bad. However, their kids were here so I did my best to act nonchalant and confident. Each child had a fish as companion. We had been asked if we would take care of them as this was the one "glitch" they were having a problem with for evacuation due to so many other issues they had going on. Of course I agreed. I remember them handing over their precious friends and me saying something like "I promise they will be ok, don't worry, I will take care of them, you will see them soon."
It was now my job to keep their animals cared for and alive through a hurricane.
We had done preparations at the start of hurricane season just as we do every year, and had spent pretty much the whole week before preparing specifically for this storm. We had enough supplies to live off grid 3 months, 4 if we rationed more carefully. This included water, canned provisions and fuel.
We never planned to stay in our home (ground level oceanfront), and only for a short time considered staying at Deer Run (stilted wooden). Our years long ago agreed upon plan had been that we'd stay here for up to a Cat2, while Cat 3/4 was highly questionable, and Cat5 was "get the hell out."
What I thought was to be the final plan for Irma would be us sheltering in the elevated concrete bunker of a home owned by a dear friend of us (a future story). So, there we were with all the animals, 2 other families who had taken shelter in the same home (with animals of course), our possessions, our animals, the foster kitty and the foster fishes. It was only after a very long night of anguish and conversation in that home that we then decided to abandon that plan. Irma was now huge and as far as anything can be certain, we were certain to get a sizable impact. We repacked the truck with emergency survival necessities, a cooler full of random drinks and food (nothing great, we would be back home soon!) the animals with all their needs (6 cats--1 an "empty the shelter" kitty on medication, our rescue parrot, and now these 2 foster fish), identification, paperwork, and our travel safe with it's contents. We were headed to the "shelter of last resort" down at the Sugarloaf School. One family and their animals had left the night before with no idea where they'd end up, and our other friend and his dog wanted to stick with us. At that point, my anxiety was raging inside of me, but outwardly I think I was doing a good job holding it together. Sure it crossed my mind that whatever we left behind was the end of life as we knew it, but our minds work wonders with the ability to push those thoughts aside as alarmist and deny them.
I called our veterinarians and asked how to safely transfer the fish into better containers to insure I could put lids on them during travel and not risk their lives, which I promptly did.
The truck was ready, and we drove off. He did his best to go slowly around turns and bumps so as not to slosh the fishes homes, but basically it's not entirely plausible.
We got to the shelter of last resort and staked our space. Our primary focus was the animals. We started to call the shelter "Noah's Ark" there were so many animals. I think there may have been more animals than people actually. We were the only ones with fish.
The storm came.
We took care of the animals, including the fish.
Everything was not ok, and they would not see their fish for a long time.