When I unfolded my newspaper Saturday AM 9-9-17 it read: STATE OF FEAR in all capital letters. I thought that was an understatement! Irma a category 5 hurricane was headed directly toward us! A CAT 5 is a roof-ripper! Even if it weakened to a 4 it would still be catastrophic! I wondered if I would have a house remaining or even be alive on Monday.
I joked that if I survived I would be poor, homeless, & blind! But the joke was too close to reality to be funny. At least my house was insured although my body is not. And hurricane deductibles are high and I needed that money for my cataract surgery! This couldn't be happening at a worse time!
On the other hand, if I didn't survive it would solve all of my problems. However, there's a long list of people I do not want to be reunited with in the afterlife! So I had to get myself together!
I tried to determine what I needed to save and what I was willing to sacrifice to the storm. I wasn't actually willing to sacrifice anything but I had no choice. And some of my choices I started to reconsider afterward, such as my bathing suit. Despite a thorough washing it still smelled of the Galapagos Islands from my trip 2 summers ago. I didn't want to part with it or any of my souvenirs from Thailand. None of these were Sophie's choices, but all of my things are precious to me.
Everything I wanted to save needed to be downstairs; even then I could still lose everything due to the category of this storm. By the end of the day every muscle in my body ached from lugging things down those stairs.
I put together a grab & go bag with all of my important papers, cash, and several changes of clothes in the event I had to evacuate to a FEMA trailer, later. However I was determined NOT to spend the storm in a shelter. Others I'd known who rode a hurricane out in one swore they'd never do it again. And these are people who enjoy the company of others. I am not one of those! At least in my home I'd only have to deal with hurricane drama without the added people drama too.
My safe room has always been the windowless downstairs bathroom. However, with a storm of this magnitude I was starting to rethink that. Should my cathedral ceiling be peeled back or the front door go flying away, I doubt the bathroom door would hold once the storm was inside. And if the garage doors should bend, my car could be blown right thru the bathroom wall killing me inside! -- During hurricane David, a lesser hurricane back in Stuart, my father's car was blown from our carport and down the driveway.
I decided my new safe area would be the back hallway. It didn't have a door to close, but it was next to 2 rooms I could quickly escape into and hope at least one would hold.
Before I went to bed that night I planned to pull the mattress off the daybed in my guestroom and push it off the loft railing onto the carpet below rather than try to drag it down the stairs. I wondered if I'd ever feel the comfort of my own bed again.
Food was plentiful in my storm pantry. And besides my 2 huge plastic jugs & lots of empty milk bottles, I filled everything that would hold tap water, including waste baskets & tea kettles. My water was divided into 3 categories: drinking, washing, & flushing.
Earlier in the week, I called number after number in desperation trying to find someone to board my house. Mostly, I got answering machines. The few who picked-up told me they were too busy. One suggested I call a church! I felt they were telling me I didn't have a prayer!
Finally, one man phoned me back! He said he would be here noon Friday to board up my house.
Thursday afternoon, my neighbors across the street astounded me! After letting me twist-in-the -wind during 4 previous hurricanes they offered to board me! By now I had the only house in the neighborhood unprotected. I thanked them, but a man was coming noon the following day.
But then, Friday came and it was getting late in the afternoon and storm winds would be arriving Saturday. The man I hired was running way behind schedule still boarding other people. I was starting to panic! So I called my neighbors. But I could tell they were not happy about it.
They boarded-up my house and I'm grateful! But they made it clear they would NOT be unboarding. One even told me, "If you need anything else, knock on our door and then keep moving." -- Geez, tell me how you really feel!
The man I hired finally showed up around 5:00 PM Saturday. I must have been dead last on his list!!! I paid him to repair a board that came loose and was hanging from my chimney. Apparently, that previous workman I'd hired to replace rotting wood had missed more than a few places!
By Saturday afternoon, Irma had shifted farther west. We were out of the cone but due to the gigantic size of this storm we would still be in for a wild ride on Sunday!
Due to that shift in direction we were spared the worst of Irma, although Sunday became wild and wicked starting in late afternoon. I was praying my electricity would hold long enough to watch the season premiere of Outlander. -- What a difference a day makes!
As I watched the show, I listened to the fierce howling winds outside and the heavy rains besieging the house; I heard the exploding of power going out in the next neighborhood over. I held my breath.
At 11:00 PM when I went to bed, I was so confident of not losing power that I left both my flashlight & hurricane lamp downstairs. It was something I came to regret! The power went out at midnight!
The next morning I would not be enjoying the large celebration breakfast I planned on preparing. My electricity would not be restored until around 5:30 PM. But I was still without TV, Internet, and a phone. The small battery-operated pad I'd purchased for my trips refused to connect. It told me what to do, but offered no direction as to how. I wanted to smash it on the floor!
I remember going thru hurricane Della when I was 14 and David when I was 28. Both times, when the power was restored EVERYTHING came back at once! And our landlines worked even during hurricanes! In fact, my phones still worked during and after hurricanes right up until I subscribed to the bundle in 2010. So there's something to be said for the good old days. Della & David were Stuart hurricanes.
After moving to Vero Beach came Irene, Frances, Jeane, and Wilma! The place my father swore never got hit by hurricanes due to its angle on the map! I knew better, but you couldn't tell him anything.
Tuesday, became my outside clean-up day, starting early and still sore; I picked up branches in my yard and raked leaves. My hands & feet became cut, blistered and bug-bitten. My clothes were soaked in sweat. This is Florida after all and it's still summer. Around mid- afternoon I'd had enough and decided to save the rest for my yard man. But plenty of work was still awaiting me inside.
Thankfully, there was no damage to the house itself.
Wednesday, unable to reach me, my friend Rose, fearing I was dead or injured drove over. I was still without phone, internet, or TV. We used her cell phone to report the problem to ATT. They told us they were aware of the issue, but didn't seem optimistic about resolving it anytime soon. But at least I had light and air-conditioning which many in Florida were still without.
If not for my daily newspaper I would have no idea what was going on in the outside world! Friday was a joyous day when everything was at last restored! However my boards are remaining up until hurricane season ends in November!