Hurricane Irma was a storm for the record books. Uncertainty played every which way as meteorologists, journalists and every day folks tried to predict which way Irma would travel. Time was on our side – or so it seemed. With concern for Florida’s populated southeastern region – including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, the storm drew nearer and continued surprising us with its path. That meant millions of people and organizations had to decide how best to protect their loved ones, their homes and themselves.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center was one of those organizations. Now that Hurricane Irma has passed, with LMC and the Juno Beach Pier sustaining minimal damage, we’ve had time to reflect upon a few of the valuable lessons the storm taught us:

  1. Grit and passion ALWAYS conquer fear

We’re beyond fortunate to have a passionate and dedicated team of staff, volunteers and supporters. Without their passion for our mission, we wouldn’t have been able to prepare for Hurricane Irma the way we did – swiftly and intentionally. Staff members and volunteers worked around the clock to take care of our sea turtle patients, prepare offices and campus for potential damage and craft communications to keep media members and the public informed. Plus, we had the support of the wonderful team at the Georgia Aquarium, who took in our sea turtle patients so they could be safe from the storm.

  1. Putting others first is WORTH it

Whether helping coworkers put up shutters or staying late after business hours, our committed team made sure Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s campus and the Juno Beach Pier were ready before returning to their own homes or points of evacuation. Our hospital team also drove our 10 sea turtle patients and 40 hatchlings on a 12-hour trip to safety at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. This truly demonstrates that hard work and unconditional love always wins out in the end.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Aquarium

  1. A singular focus can be a GOOD thing

Although we had to place some of our regular work tasks on hold the week before the storm made landfall in Florida, Hurricane Irma taught us that focusing on one major task at hand can be extremely beneficial. Sometimes, it really does help to refocus on what truly matters – including the safety of our team, sea turtle patients and supporters, as well as the importance of dedicated planning and tactful communication strategies.

  1. Our mission IS our mission

Having that singular focus reminded us why we do what we do. Our followers on social media, our local and national media contacts and our beloved community members continuously contacted us with questions about our plans for the sea turtle patients, our beach survey operations and our Juno Beach-based campus. And as soon as we opened, our wonderful guests visited with the 200+ “hurricane” hatchlings that came in after the storm! In those sweet moments, we remember that we are here to promote the conservation of our oceans with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. And we can’t do it without our team of supporters like you.