What do you do when the apocalypse is coming straight for you? For residents in Florida, that's not too far-fetched a question. Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes in decades, and it's on a path set to hit most of the Sunshine State over the next few days. Residents are preparing for the worst, but not all are preparing for despair. Some Floridians are even joking about shooting at Hurricane Irma.
As the state braces for the potentially catastrophic hurricane, a Facebook event called "Shoot At Hurricane Irma" has garnered more than 70,000 people's interest. About 24,000 people marked themselves as "Going," and 52,000 as "Interested." Altogether, that's about four times more Floridians taking up arms against nature than U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The "About" section in the event, set for 10 a.m. ET on Sunday and marked simply at the location Florida, read:
YO SO THIS GOOFY ... LOOKING WINDY HEAD*SS NAMED IRMA SAID THEY PULLING UP ON US ... LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST
Let nobody say Floridians don't have a sense of humor in the face of fear. People who have signed up for the event seem ready to poke fun of themselves and their state's reputation for eccentricity.
But the event appears to be more than just for laughs. Florida residents are using it as a means of coming together in the face of their fear of what might happen as a huge system of swirling wind at high speeds and colossal flooding bear down on them. And they're clearly appreciating the chance to laugh about it all.
Ryon Edwards, the 22-year-old from DeLand, Florida, says he started the event to "lighten the mood" but was shocked at the kind of response it got and how many people signed up. "A combination of stress and boredom made me start the event," Edwards tells the BBC. "I never envisioned this event becoming some kind of crazy idea larger than myself. It has become something a little out of my control."
It does appear that event got out of his control, with hundreds of posts featuring memes and other jokes about how Florida is planning to take on the storm. Someone even posted a diagram displaying hurricane winds to show how, hypothetically, one should shoot at the hurricane to stop the bullet from coming back at them. (Hint: try not shooting against winds over 100 mph.)
Of course, there are far more productive things that Florida residents could be doing to prepare themselves for Hurricane Irma besides loading up on ammo and getting ready to shoot at it. Florida governor Rick Scott has urged 5.6 million residents of the state to evacuate, as the storm is expected to bring serious damage to all parts of Florida.
For those who aren't evacuating, there are some precautions that can be made to hopefully ride out the storm safely. Florida residents are recommended to stock up on non-perishable food and water, to board up windows in order to prevent broken glass, to get ready for potentially days on end without power (Florida Light & Power estimates 3.4 million customers will lose power because of the storm), and to prepare their house for potential damage by removing low-hanging branches and similar hazards, and taking stock of vulnerabilities.
Once you've made sure that you are safe and prepared for a storm of epic proportions, if you're still inclined to shoot at Hurricane Irma — fruitlessly, I might add — take heart in your ability to maintain that sense of humor. Meanwhile, hunkering down for the hurricane (in a shelter or far away from its expected path) and waiting for it to pass could be the only thing left to do.