Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricanes - The Parent Trap

"My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that's the law." Jerry Seinfeld

My parents are visiting us from Florida. Rather suddenly. We got them on a plane to Philly today in advance of Ernesto. At 83 and 90, even a small hit from a storm can be a big hardship.

Their condo's on the top floor of their tony building in Boca Raton. So flooding's not an issue. But if the power goes out, they're not climbing stairs -- in any direction. Or doing without air conditioning. Or living without lights. My mother's three quarters blind as it is.

If your parents live in Florida, it's hard to know what to do during hurricane season. How to help ... other than opening your home to them. My folks used to have a place at the Jersey shore where they'd stay for the summer and into the Fall, to avoid the hurricane menace.

But it got too hard to schlep clothes and meds and their car and all other necessities of normal--and especially senior--life between two homes. So they decided to stay put. They're happy in Boca. They've got friends, activities, doctors (no small thing) and all the other important comforts of home there.

Until the hurricanes start. Then they become trapped, by indecision and circumstance between a rock and a hard place. Go or stay? Take a chance on riding it out or flee to certain safety? Put themselves through the draining ordeal of air travel or risk a worse outcome in a hurricane?

This time it was an easy call. Lines for miles at gas stations. Doctors' offices, schools, most businesses closing mid-day. Warnings from the state and federal government. During Katrina they were here with us, and Florida didn't even take the brunt of the storm.

But Wilma was a different story. A horrible life lesson. They literally got here in the nick of time. Thank God. Their apartment was trashed. It's still not completely fixed. All new windows--including window frames--were to have been installed starting today.

So here they are. Again. The news about Ernesto is still iffy. So here they stay. Where we know they're safe. Until the next time.

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