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Straight up, I have no business writing about Irma in the first person.

My wife and I knew darned well a hurricane strike was possible as we packed in preparation for meeting friends in the Bahamas on the Sunday before Labor Day.

Diane and I decided to keep to the vacation plan after our friends assured us there was a Plan B: they’d reserved a charter plane that we could take if it appeared Hurricane Irma was headed our way.

We weren’t in danger for so much as a millisecond as we fished and swam in the clearest, warmest water imaginable off Great Harbour Cay in the northernmost Berry Islands.

Irma was approaching but still well to the southeast as we boarded the charter flight last Thursday, three days before our intended departure, and flew to Fort Lauderdale. We encountered no terrified, bumper-to-bumper evacuation as we drove rental cars up I-95 toward our friends’ place near Charleston, S.C.

On Sunday, as we walked to our gate at the airport in unflustered Charlotte, North Carolina, for a flight to San Francisco, some TVs in the terminal showed horrific winds and rain lashing Tampa, others carried the lopsided 49ers-Panthers game.

So we suffered none as, all week, we kept ahead of Irma.

But we did get a taste, as we did of conch fritters and Kalik beer, of the spectrum of anxiety and agonizing decisions that come with knowing a hurricane is closing in but you have no idea how close it will hit to home.

...

THE BAHAMIANS we met were for the most part calm and resigned. They know hurricanes, and they knew there was a fair chance Great Harbour would not take a direct hit. For them fleeing was not an option.

“There is no place to go,” said one man we got to know. The few hundred native residents can’t just pack up and fly off.

If need be, some said, they’d find refuge within the massive walls of the ruins of the Arnold Palmer golf resort that in the late 1960s served as a getaway for the rich and famous.

We were sorry to leave the Bahamians we’d met, and rejoiced days later to learn that Irma didn’t come close enough to do them any serious harm.

It’s a relief today, I’ll admit, to be back in the familiarity of earthquake country.

...

HEALDSBURG KIDS are determined to be of material help to two schools in northwest Houston badly flooded by Hurricane Harvey. They’d be pleased for us to pitch in.

Students at Healdsburg’s three public grade schools are collecting donations to replace books, supplies, furniture, technology and other necessities at hard-hit Schmalz Elementary and Betty Sue Creech Elementary in Katy, Texas.

The Healdsburg students raised $600 at the weekend farmers’ market, and they opened an appeal at gofundme.com/hef4hou.

The campaign of interstate kid caring wraps up Friday.

...

TO MARK 9/11 Monday, the 16th anniversary of the attacks, three Rohnert Park firefighter-police officers donned full fire gear and took to StairMasters at a 24 Hour Fitness.

Starting at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane crashed into Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, the trio — Sgt. Jeff Nicks, Det. Debbie Lamaison and Officer-Engineer Chris Snyder — climbed the equivalent of the Twin Towers’ 110 flights.

Thank you.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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