South Floridians wait in long lines to get food and water as Dorian approaches

South Floridians waited in long lines on Aug. 29 to get non-perishable food and water as hurricane Dorian approaches the continental US.

South Floridians waited in long lines on Aug. 29 to get non-perishable food and water as hurricane Dorian approaches the continental US.

With so much at stake for Florida with each forecast, the stress of Dorian entering land as a Category 4 hurricane is making Floridians nuttier than usual.

Even those of us who should know better.

Deal me in.

I’ve obsessively scanned my cellphone apps so many times — looked at the Herald’s tracking map so often, chatted by text with family and friends about Dorian so frequently — that Big Brother has identified me as a candidate for depression.

“You can get help here,” a Facebook ad assures me.

If Big Brother only knew what I’ve already done in real life in a deranged bid to outsmart Hurricane Dorian!

I considered beating the storm to drive six hours to Jacksonville to celebrate our darling Theo’s fourth birthday on Saturday, as we had planned.

But I only got as far as Pembroke Pines.

If I couldn’t find a gas station without a long line between Miami Lakes and west Broward on Thursday morning, what the heck was I going to do when I needed one again in Central Florida where Dorian is projected to strike?

If we in Miami-Dade — still not facing a direct hit — are freaking out this early because the storm is looking more and more ominous in its forecast track, as of this writing expected to touch land somewhere north of Vero Beach, what could I possibly expect on the road but more of the same struggle?

Even the small neighborhood Chevron we all avoid because it’s a major rip-off in normal times had an unruly line and people honking. When I tried to leave the mess, someone almost slammed into me.

Every grocery store I visited was out of tuna, unsalted crackers, and regular bottled water — with only high-priced sparkling San Pellegrino left on some shelves. Wine was plentiful, though, and so was the chocolate.

“Buy this one. It’s organic fair trade — and that’s important,” a woman came up behind me and said.

The name of the brand: Theo.

It was my father’s name, too. Teodoro, Teo, Teodorito. He personified stress at the whiff of a tropical storm out in the Atlantic.

I took it as a message from Heaven that everything is going to be OK.



Customers stock up on bottled water at Costco, located at 77th street West Flagler, as Miami-Dade County prepares on Thursday, August 29, 2019 for the possible impact of Hurricane Dorian.


Not that I need any of that — or the Cuban bread I bought on pure whim. But there’s something about the declarations of emergency by mayors and the governor that fuel the need to accumulate.

I already have plenty to get by.

In the summer, I keep bottled water stocked for these purposes. And my best acquisition the last time we faced a hurricane threat was a huge water dispenser that fits in my refrigerator perfectly. I use it everyday.

Tap water is just fine, people.

Collect it now. Fill Ziploc bags with them to make ice that you’ll need to keep perishables cool when the power goes out.

Call the handyman who is going to help with shutters if we need them — and get on his list. Take only what you need from the ATM. Don’t leave the darn machines out of cash.

See, I’m already sounding a little saner.

Emotion was driving me to do stupid stuff.

Fear is a poison pill.

It’s a good time to take a collective deep breath — and act smart, not hysterically.

Can I be a cheerleader — be on #TeamOptimism #TeamBrightSide — just this once?

There are things to celebrate if you look with heart.

For reader Maria R. Alvarez — who usually writes me emails that begin with “how dare you write such despicable…” — my first column on Dorian was a respite.

“I can’t believe you didn’t blame President Trump on this one! There’s still hope for you, I think…”

Well, now that she brings it up, there’s this to consider.

There’s a killer storm headed to Florida — and President Donald Trump’s administration has diverted some $271 million in disaster aid funds from FEMA, the agency tasked with helping Americans recover, and other vital agencies, to pay for an expansion of migrant detention centers and to build his wall along the border with Mexico.

His administration has pulled this stunt in the middle of hurricane season as Dorian was approaching Puerto Rico.

Feel safer now, Maria?

How unconscionable of him; prejudice never leads to good policy-making.

Ah, there, I feel so much better now.

Stress is high.

We’re hoarding stuff we don’t need, material and emotional.

Come on, Floridians, we got this!

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”

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