Lake Okeechobee area residents spent Labor Day weekend watching the very slow progress of Dorian, which grew to a massive Category 5 hurricane by Saturday and then stalled about 100 miles off the Florida coastline. By Tuesday, the storm had fallen in strength to Category 2 and was slowly moving northwest. The track deviation from earlier reports was enough to take the Big Lake area out of the “cone” area of predicted hurricane-force winds, but not completely out of danger. Bands of rain and winds continued to bring potential risk from flooding and high winds.
At the Emergency Operations Centers in Okeechobee, Clewiston, Moore Haven and West Palm Beach, local officials planned for the worst, hoped for the best and battled hurricane fatigue.
Some residents evacuated the area in advance of the storm. Others sought refuge in shelters. Most stayed put, watched and waited, or went to family’s or friends’ homes.
Lake area residents watched television coverage of the devastation in the Bahamas in horror. Several Florida charities have already started relief efforts for the storm victims there.
In the regular briefings throughout the storm, the National Weather Service warned emergency officials to be aware of the risk of hurricane fatigue.
According to the St. Petersburg College blog titled “Hurricane Fatigue,” during and after a hurricane people become exhausted because they are recovering from the intense adrenaline of the body’s “fight or flight” response to danger. During a hurricane watch, many people also snack on “comfort foods” which may not provide a balanced diet. Stress and worry about the storm can cause them to lose sleep. Weather may keep them indoors, reducing their physical activity level. The combination of these factors can leave them feeling out of sorts. “It’s important during this time to take care of yourself, pay attention to your nutrition and hydration needs and try to stay active. If you are feeling more tired than usual, allow your body to recuperate by sleeping a little bit longer, but always try to keep a 7-8 hour sleep schedule,” the blog authors advise.