Watching and Waiting: Part 1

Watching and waiting for Matthew…

The worst thing about this hurricane, so far, has been making the decisions about where to go, whether to evacuate, where is the safest place if we stay? The decisions develop and change with time as there is always something new to consider. Second guessing is a constant temptation.

Tuesday:  I arrived a bit before noon and met Dr. Julia on her rounds. She had the dog with her so I had to share the passenger seat with a black lab.  We made a stop at the office and at the stable to drop off the dog. It seems that a lot of people don’t think about updating the vaccinations and Coggins on their horses until they have to consider evacuating them out of state. She has numerous emergency visits just to do health certificates.

Nearly all of Julia’s belongings are stored in a large metal storage unit. She goes down a couple times a week to look for something she needs and today she needs canned goods. We are more than a little upset to find out that a leak we reported two weeks ago is still leaking. I drive up to the office to let them know and return with their solution – a 50 gallon garbage can to collect the water.

We stop at Moe’s to buy dinner for ourselves and a friend and then return to the stable where nervous horse girls are painting phone numbers on their horse’s sides.  Our friend Doug eats burritos with us and says he’s not worried about the hurricane.  He seems to be very confident.

Wednesday night: After riding around seeing clients for most of the day, Dr. Julia started thinking about and questioning her employer as to her obligation to answer emergency calls during hurricane weather. After all, as she reasoned, she isn’t a government employee, doesn’t have fancy lights and sirens on her vehicle, might encounter impassable roads, might not be able to find fuel after the first tank, and doesn’t even have health or life insurance. She cancelled her Thursday appointments and will be talking people through their emergencies if they can reach her by phone. No one has complained. Evidently people have better things to do right now.

The husband has been texting us often, as he thinks of things we should be doing. He has suggested several places for us to evacuate to, and for some reason that I can’t fathom, is worried about us getting our laundry done.

I made a trip to the gas station to fill up the tank and find out why my tire pressure monitor was misbehaving. It was busy there. The Publix next door was doing good business too – every cash register was manned, the bottled water was gone, as was the bread.

Thursday:  We slept pretty good Wednesday night, knowing we had until sometime Friday to figure out what to do. We are in a small apartment in a stable, next to the feed room. Across the aisle from us are several stalls with horses. The barn cats are guarding the door. Inside the one room abode, Julia houses herself, her dog and two cats.  The barn is about fifty years old and has weathered one hurricane pretty well. It is open on each end which allows the wind to go through unimpeded. It has a metal roof and as far as anyone knows, there is only one leak above the apartment which is covered with a tarp weighted down with huge chunks of log. To me, the place feels pretty sturdy. There aren’t any big trees around to fall on it. I would consider riding out the storm here, even though the tarp will probably blow off and we might have some leaks. We have buckets.

Julia has joined a gym close to the barn partly for exercise, and definitely so that she can have a place to shower. That is her first mission for the day. We split up and I go to the post office for her and to Sam’s Club. I need to buy Half n Half because we can’t stand the thought of several days in storm confinement without cream for our coffee.

Another trip to the storage room, and there is good news. A repair has been made and the roof is no longer leaking in that spot. The bad news is that Julia discovers a new leak and we try to figure out how to move her bookcase to safety. We have come for hurricane supplies – a transistor radio and batteries, candles, toilet paper and vodka.

Today we spend quite a bit of time watching tv.  We check in on the hurricane but most of the time we   watch HGTV, Flip or Flop. We are both a little short on rest and can hardly stay awake.  The hurricane has not reached us yet but it has been raining almost constantly, sometimes very hard, with wind. I check on the horses who are standing, soaked in rain, grazing as if nothing is happening.   We have decided that it’s best to leave the horses loose in the pasture as a herd.  I finally go out to help feed them and have to wade through a sea of rainwater. Their feed turns into mash in the trough.

We are getting offers of shelter. The people who own the stable have invited us over.  Their house is surrounded by huge trees. In fact, the last time I visited during a storm, a big limb fell off one of their trees and trapped our vehicle in their back field. We also have an offer from a friend who has a nice new house, right on the marsh of the river. He’s in zone A for evacuation. HE SHOULD BE LEAVING so what’s with that?! Dr. Julia doesn’t want to leave her own animals, even though she knows the priorities of the situation.  The husband is still texting us that we should leave. He is reminding me of a Cat 1 storm that devastated a nearby town years ago, and this is a Cat 3 scheduled to go right over us.  We consider again and pray about it, knowing that it still seems best to stay where we are. We ask God to change our minds if he needs us to do something different. And we ask for peace for our family and ourselves.

Before we turn in for the night, we pull our vehicles into the barn and load some things in them. In the morning we’ll head over to Cliff and Monica’s to spend the day and night during the worst part of the storm.  We fall asleep watching the weather report.

3 thoughts on “Watching and Waiting: Part 1

  1. Sitting in the southwest corner of the country, it’s hard for me to understand why people choose to live where they have to prepare for possibly devastating weather. Every year. As if in defense, people say, “Well, you have earthquakes.” Honestly? Not very often that anyone but a seismograph can feel them. In the 60 years I’ve lived here, I have felt a few, missed feeling a few, and known serious damage (to roads, highways, and buildings, involving death and injury) to happen only twice, at least a hundred miles away.

    I wish you safe refuge and less storm than anticipated.

    • It is a trade off. People in hurricane areas appreciate being able to anticipate their disasters and flee. They don’t often hit in the same place either. At some point you on the faults will hav,e a big one with no notice. It’s a matter of what disaster you prefer.

      • That’s what they keep telling us. The more common and far more destructive disasters we experience here are wildfires. We even call it Fire Season, and there are often massive evacuations involved. Sometimes naturally (lightning strikes), but more often than not, human-caused. They’re mostly occur during Santa Ana conditions — extreme low humidity in the teens and low twenties with high easterly winds off the desert.

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