I'm Going Down With the Ship, Baby!

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“Did you talk to Drew?,” I asked my husband Tuesday afternoon from the office.


“Yup. He said he wasn’t leaving. And I quote, ‘I’m going down with the ship, baby!’”


Ah, teenagers. Gotta love their enthusiasm.


[Sidenote: I don’t write much about my son inasmuch as he has forbidden me to do so. So, if you want to continue to hear occasional snippets here and there about our adventures with him, you too are forbidden to breathe a word of anything I write here to him. Do we have a deal?]


Andrew and I moved to Pensacola Beach almost twenty-five years ago when we graduated from law school. Within three months of moving to the beach, we experienced firsthand Hurricanes Erin and Opal.


We stayed in our tiny condo on the beach for Erin. Maybe stupid but also exciting for a young newlywed couple with no kids to worry about.


We did evacuate for Opal and were displaced for a month while they rebuilt infrastructure on the beach.


Thereafter, we had moved to Gulf Breeze where we were graced with Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Katrina, all three of which destroyed our dock and fence in our Gulf Breeze neighborhood. Ivan also wreaked major damage on our home displacing the kids (then three and five years old) and me for over a month to Virginia and Maine staying with family while Andrew coordinated the rebuild.


Like many of you who have lived in the area for any length of time, we have experienced our fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms. Their approach actually does not stress me out because we have a plan in place in case we do need to evacuate.


  • We lined up a hotel room just in case. We could evacuate and start driving North or West but, from experience, we do not like to get too far away so that we can quickly return to survey any damage.

  • If we do decide to evacuate, we do not leave when the masses are leaving. We have sat in eight hour traffic jams leaving the area before and it is a total waste of time. Either leave super early (but who can do that if you have a job or run a business?) or, surprisingly, wait until the middle of the night AFTER the evacuation order is issued and then leave. I did that for Hurricane Dennis with the kiddos and drove to Birmingham. Hardly saw a car on the road and the weather had still not yet deteriorated.
  • Gas up your vehicle early in case you do need to evacuate. Local gas stations will run out when everyone rushes to top off their tank.

  • Have some cash on hand. If the power goes out, businesses may not be able to run a credit card.

  • Have your evacuation kit organized and ready to go. Several days worth of clothes, important papers and phone numbers, your estate planning documents, insurance papers, laptop, phone, chargers. Oh yeah, the pets, kids, and spouse usually make it on the list too if I’m feeling particularly generous!


Checking out the surf as Hurricane Michael approachesWe awoke Wednesday morning and the surf was as high as I’ve ever seen it on the beach. No flooding near us, however (unlike the last tropical storm). Windy, yes. Our main concern was losing power but, fortunately, we suffered nary a flicker of the lights.


As the storm approached Panama City, Andrew decided to check into the hotel in Pensacola just in case they closed the bridges. He had court the next day that he could not miss.


I stayed with Drew at the house because by then, we were not concerned about our safety.


“And then there were two,” my son uttered after Andrew left.


I smiled. That boy can make me laugh. I was thinking the same thing.


Kristen “Riding Out the Storm With My Teenage Son” Marks


P.S. Just as you should prepare for an approaching hurricane, you should also prepare your affairs for your inevitable demise.


I ran into a workout friend, Peter, at the dog beach Wednesday afternoon while I braved the wind gusts to get in a quick run after the eye of the storm had come ashore in Panama City.


Peter shared with me a story about how his father showed him a file cabinet and said, “When something happens to me, look here. Everything you need to know is in there.”


Peter, not wanting to “jinx” his dad (his words), did not look in the file drawer until after his dad died.


Guess what? There was NOTHING in there that was helpful. The Will, insurance policies and other important papers were scattered throughout the house. Nothing like a good ole’ scavenger hunt when you are grieving your parent.


Heed the warning in Peter’s story and get yourself organized for your loved ones. We can help you do this at your Family Succession Strategy Session. If you are a Florida resident, you can schedule the session online using the link below:

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