Like countless other people I spent a good portion of this past Saturday either reading stories or watching news clips about Hurricane Irma as it moved steadily closer to Florida.

Like countless other people I spent a good portion of this past Saturday either reading stories or watching news clips about Hurricane Irma as it moved steadily closer to Florida.

Would it be a Category 4 or 5 storm when it made landfall somewhere in the Sunshine State? Would the difference be noticeable to anyone unfortunate enough or dumb enough to be in the path of beast when it eventually waded ashore?

While thankful I didn't have anyone in the storm's path, it seemed like everyone I spoke with either Friday or Saturday had a secondhand account to share regarding regarding either friends or family that were either on the road north, or who were planning to hunker down and ride it out.

At city hall someone told me of two family members who were bound for Atlanta, Ga., even though at that time that area was in the projected path of the storm, which would be weaker but still potent by the time it reached the Peach State.

“We'll see how that works out,” he said.

A co-worker told of an acquaintance who lives in a big apartment complex near the ocean in Miami. As of Friday that individual was planning to ignore orders to evacuate and instead join with other residents in staging a hurricane party.

I saw a news account of a young couple that had only moved into a new apartment earlier that week and was planning on riding out the storm in their new home. Citing the fact the apartment had reinforced windows, which they believed would stand up to the high winds, and their apartment is on the building's second floor, above the anticipated height of the storm surge, they felt they would be safe.

“It might even be neat,” commented the man regarding the anticipated experience.

I can't imagine how many times they might have looked at each other when the wind was howling and asked, “Whose bright idea was it to ride this out?”

Another news account featured the efforts of the Miami Police Department, which was doing its best to round up homeless people and get them to storm shelters and relative safety. However, because some street dwellers either hadn't heard a potentially deadly storm was on the way or simply didn't trust what the officers were telling them, many were willing to take their chances out on the streets.

As when Hurricane Harvey struck Texas only weeks ago, there will be many Floridians who will not flee either because they lack the means to evacuate or simply have nowhere to go.

One doesn't have to live on the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast to find themselves subject to the forces of nature.

My wife, Nancy, who works in a downtown Hannibal shop, encountered a couple visiting from the Montana last week. They reported the “fire season” in their area has been particularly bad this year. They were wondering if their house would still be standing when they returned.

It seems that every part of the country has its own unique threats, whether it be earthquakes, floods, severe thunderstorms, powerful tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards and life-threatening temperature extremes.

The amount of lead time ahead of these events varies greatly. There is little, if any, advance notice before an earthquake. Only a few minutes notice to evacuate or seek shelter may precede an approaching wildfire, severe storm or tornado. Warnings for hurricanes, blizzards and floods are frequently issued days in advance.

When the opportunity to flee or take shelter is presented it's then up to people whether or not to make the decision to leave harm's way.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.