Earlier in the year we booked a week-long vacation to Nassau, Bahamas to celebrate two graduations: Hayley from high school, and Jenn with her software development degree. Over the course of the summer out plans started to solidify. We would be staying at a hotel on "Paradise Island" which is the same island that the famous Atlantis Resort resides. Not our typical vacation, but the package price couldn't be beat.
We planned a day of travel to Eleuthera Island for some of our more preferred isolated beach island time but also had plenty of time at the Atlantis resort water park as well.
A few days before we were set to go, Tropical Storm Irene had appeared just to the west of the West Indies and had been strengthening. It was hurricane season, so tropical storms form all the time. As the days passed, ticking closer to departure, Irene strengthened, and the ensemble forecasts became more ominous, tracking anywhere from along Hispaniola to right over the central Bahamas. Ugh. What do we do?
Do we cancel on the chance that it hits Nassau, or cancel a vacation for a long shot? We only had a limited amount of time to decide, as we were leaving on late Monday night on the red-eye.
We calculated that if we were to cancel or reschedule, we would be out $1600-1800 dollars! There was slim chance of having our trip insurance or disaster clause kick in to cover the cancelation because it was too premature for the airlines to call. It would only be an official cancelation of the airlines canceled their flights. The tropical storm was still passing over Puerto Rico.
We literally hemmed-and-hawwed down to the last few hours before our flight. By now, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane, and it was looking more like it would track north of Hispaniola, ensuring it would strengthen. Furthermore, the ensemble forecasts had tightened up and put the track right over Nassau!
I called our hotel and asked what their disaster plan was in the event of a hurricane, as well as the Atlantis resort. They were sound and they had plans of action. We weren't too worried about actually being in Nassau for the duration of the hurricane, but what would we do before, during and after it hit?
The island will likely be largely out of power for the days following. The 6-12 inches of rain possible will mean localized flooding. The winds mean downed trees and some structural damage. Is it worth it to even go? What are we going to gain? We continued to debate as the flight time neared. Then we found that the airport would likely close on Wednesday, the day after we arrive.
Finally, we bit the bullet. We would rather go than be out $1800, and we couldn't realistically reschedule with Cohen starting school the day after we planned to return. So we packed up additional emergency supplies (food, water, water filtration) and as an added precaution, we double booked and added two nights at the Atlantis Resort, who have more things to do when the doors are closed and the storm is raging (Wednesday and Thursday night).
We boarded the red-eye and arrived at Nassau at around noon local time. 90 degrees and beautiful blue skies, no signs of the impending storm. We went to the local supermarket and stocked up on 4 cases of bottled water. We were surprised to see that there wasn't any sort of "run" on water or other supplies, but the taxi driver informed us that Bahamans like to wait to the last minute for such things.
We did see a number of businesses putting up plywood over their windows. At our hotel, they had a desk set up in the lobby with up-to-the-minute hurricane bulletins and a mandatory all-hands meeting was scheduled for Wednesday noon.
We hit the pool, had some lunch, then hit the water park at Atlantis for the evening. The weather was still just beautiful. The proverbial calm before the storm, indeed.
We did notice that the Atlantis staff were making flooding preparations (sandbags, etc) and putting away lawn chairs and umbrellas into storage already. The park would be on limited operations tomorrow (Wednesday).
We expect the winds and rain to increase through the day tomorrow, and I will update the blog, if possible, tomorrow evening. I don't expect the telecoms or outside power to hold too long into Wednesday evening.