It is common this time of year; a big storm is coming, possibly a hurricane. However, the first thought in the minds of some people is “it’s time to PARTY!”
Like a run on the supermarket at the first hint of bad weather, the threat of a hurricane brings another tradition—the hurricane party. A few beach residents see it as the best way to handle a storm—cracking open a bottle of rum and waiting it out.
Hurricane parties even have their own iPhone app. At Hurricaneparty.com, you can download an application to find those spontaneous get-togethers, or create one of your own.
There are people wanting to hunker down and party. What they may not realize is that the last major hurricane directly hitting Pinellas County in 1921 devastated the beaches with twelve-foot waves. That same unnamed storm also killed three people.
The storm created a surge resulting in a new inlet for John’s Pass, as well as the aptly named Hurricane Pass.
Living on a beach in Florida also means living in an evacuation zone. According to the Pinellas County Office of Emergency Management, all county beaches are designated Evacuation Zone A. Zone A is always the first group to be moved in event of a hurricane, a group including those living in mobile homes and other low-lying areas.
What all this means is when a hurricane is about to hit the beaches, it is time to get out. No time for celebration.
The City of St. Pete Beach website offers many readiness suggestions for residents. For those determined to stay behind, the official list makes no mention of a hurricane party:
- Double check your survival kit and make necessary purchases to avoid lines and traffic. Shop early!
- Gather special supplies for infants, children, seniors and pets.
- Be sure you have all materials and tools necessary to shutter windows.
- If your plans are to evacuate, arrange and book reservations and pack what you can in your vehicle.
Still want to party? A hurricane party doesn’t have to be during a storm. The best way to celebrate is after the threat has passed. Use the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief, if nothing else.
One idea is to celebrate the end of the season. The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30. A party would be the perfect excuse to use all the old supplies stockpiled for a storm.
Here are a few suggestions for having a safe hurricane-themed party:
- Make snacks out of your hurricane survival kit.
- No electricity! Turn out all lights, and break out the candles.
- Only listen to AM radio, as if the power were out.
- Make your drinks in water bottles, as you would after a storm.
Hurricane partiers never think something bad will happen to them. That is why they would rather stay behind. After all, it has been seven years since the last evacuation order for Pinellas beaches. That was for Hurricane Charley in 2004, and it was the largest evacuation order in the county’s history. Sheriff Deputies were going door to door, making sure everyone had left.
Ignoring an evacuation order is never a good idea, and can come with a price. Pinellas County ordinances call for fines of up to $500 for those who refuse to evacuate after the order is issued.
The last thing anyone wants after a party is a hefty ticket.