The wind is starting to pick up although the skies are sunny as people file in the Publix on Biscayne and 90th in Miami Shores just about noon. Inside, a police officer, dressed in riot gear, instructs shoppers to walk through a designated entrance, since much of the store is already boarded up against the coming storm. Water is stacked up and the officer is guarding it. A line queues for the water, handed out by store managers.
Even now, only eight hours before the grocery chain is set to close for the weekend, workers are stocking shelves with Chunky soup and Velveeta cheese, though some shelves that once held crackers and batteries are picked clean.
While most shoppers are buying chips, bread, peanut butter, and soft drinks, a few seem to be planning for one last blowout meal. One woman has a giant package of fresh Alaskan snow crab claws in her cart. A lady in an electric shopping chair has stuffed clams and a roast in her basket. A mother jokes that her child can stock up on junk food. Strangely, the wine section is devoid of people.
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While ringing up my last minute groceries (more water, the last box of crackers found in the wrong aisle, and some canned fruit), a gentle-eyed woman named Ginette asked if I lived in the neighborhood and if I would be staying. I say yes.
She says she was in hurricane Andrew. "That was a storm." I say I was in Andrew, as well. "Kendall," I reply. She gives a hearty "tsk" before repeating, "that was a storm."
"Irma won't hurt us," she confides. "My daughter and I spent the entire night praying for my country and for Irma to stay away and not come to Florida."
I ask where she's from. "Haiti." She says her sister and her sister's three children were killed in a previous storm while on that Caribbean island. "They found them all days later. Each one scattered in a different location.That's enough death. I asked God last night to be good to us. He's going to listen this time."