Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath (post 4)

Sunday night, September 10, 2017

We spent an uneasy couple of hours in our “safe room” before it became apparent that the winds were not as loud. Some of us even slept, but the people most uncomfortable moved to the bedrooms. We were curious enough at this point to venture into the kitchen and get a report from the radio there. We still had power, but no cable or internet to follow the progress of the storm. The report put the eye of the storm to our east and moving away from us. We were very thankful, very relieved, but aware that the storm was still raging around the house.

Monday, September 11, 2017

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The demise of the kapok tree. RIP my friend. 

Monday morning I got up early, hoping to survey the Oneacrewoods as soon as there was light. The first thing visible shocked me like I haven’t been shocked in a long time. Our landmark kapok tree was lying horizontal on the ground. It had ripped down through our large grapefruit trees, and had also taken limbs from the surrounding oaks. Some of it’s larger top branches were caught up in the oaks, dangling precariously. It had missed a minivan belonging to one of our friends by a few feet, crashed through a board fence and landed across the neighboring driveway.  The torn root ball was up in the air, exposing a huge hole filled with mud. It might be a little silly to be emotionally attached to a tree, but I’m a silly woman when it comes to nature. It was a special tree.

The rest of the yard was covered with water, and branches of all sizes, but there were no other trees down and no damage to the house. Neighbors were starting to walk around. Several came down to look at our carnage.  On our way out to the street to see if the vehicles parked there were still there (they were) we heard that the curfew, that was to go until 3 pm, had already been lifted. Even though it was blustery and raining off and on, Kathy and I decided to walk across to their mobile home park and see if their house had blown away.

Emergency patrols were already in the park, marking damaged buildings with orange spray paint. They warned us that it might not be safe to be there with so much loose metal lying on the ground, and the wind still gusting. We made it to Kathy and Mark’s mobile and found it looking untouched. The canal behind it had come to the top of the bank but not high enough to flood their house. The damage in the park was hard to figure out – homes with the roofs ripped off were right next to ones that were untouched. The two residents that had stayed in the park in spite of the evacuation order said that there was a tornado which might have been responsible.

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At Golf Lakes MHP

Around 11 am chain saws were being heard everywhere around us. Our neighbor who had weathered the storm elsewhere arrived and came over to help us clear as much of the driveway as possible. He and his girlfriend pitched in and started cutting branches and making piles of debris. We loaded it onto our truck later and began to haul it out to the road. There are six residents bordering our drive and all of us had downed trees and branches. The piles out by the road grew larger by the hour.

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Multiple truckloads on day 1 of aftermath. Easy to throw stuff on, actually harder to pull it off out at the road.

We worked all day until we couldn’t do it anymore. I loaded brush and hauled for the neighbors to pay them back for clearing the drive. We slogged through the flooded yards getting muddy, sweaty, tired and hungry. For the first time ever, we had the neighbors over for hot dogs. It took a hurricane to make it happen but I’m glad it did.

Day one of the aftermath ended with much accomplished but so much more to do that I felt physically, emotionally and mentally oppressed. The knowledge that everyone needed to attend to their own damage left little hope for finding help. I had only one person I could think of that might be able to work with me on my mess. I had texted him earlier in the day and hadn’t received an answer. I figured he was somewhere working for someone who needed him more than I did. When you believe as I do, that God knows and helps you through things in one way or another, you wait for help, or for strength until it comes. That’s the way we left it on Monday.

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Views designed with depression in mind.

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Grab a rake, please.

The Wind

Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I. But when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by.   Christina Rossetti

It is a noisy morning here – blowers, saws, vehicles coming and going – and out on the street emergency trucks are dealing with the downed electrical wires and traffic is down to one lane, taking turns going east and west.

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Emergency vehicles converge on a dark morning

Last night it started to rain. I was awake and heard it intensify, hitting the metal roof. The main gust of wind was frightening and I remember being thankful we were in a cement block structure. It was short and quieted down immediately after. The intermittent beep of the smoke alarm, like a low battery signal, was all I heard until my daughter got up and took it down. The electricity was off, but we went back to sleep without a clue to the chaos we would see at daylight.

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The beautiful farm where daughter Julia rents a small house, sustained heavy wind damage in that storm.  Our view of the main house, out her front door, was obscured by the giant oak that had fallen. Oh, the trees, it makes my heart sick – anyone who has read my blog knows how I feel about trees. Just last night we had the sad job of burying Rodgey the cat in a garden area next to several beautiful trees, on a mound with a swing attached to them. The garden is now invisible and covered with the limbs of those trees that were ripped off. A large cattle feeder from an adjoining field was deposited under what is left of one of them. Oddly, the swing is still there.20170505_095601

There are several areas of downed board fencing, a couple of them right on the road. A herd of mini horses that were kept in that field evidently left through the break and came back in again in a different place. They were racing around loose in the back of the barns when Julie found them.  Her own horses were safe and in place, but the shelter in their field was dismantled and distributed all over the pasture to the north. The fence was gone there too.

 

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The owner of the farm has come to survey the damage. She is a businesswoman who has a construction company of some kind and has already dispatched many of her workmen to the farm to clean up the damage. Indeed, there are already blowers and chippers running everywhere and loads of limbs being hauled off. “It will look better by the end of the day,” she told us. But it will look different than it did before the storm.

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As we look around outside, it is very obvious that we were spared loss of life, and even serious property damage. It’s a strange sort of day here.

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Dr. Julia taking Rocker and Fea to a safer paddock.