After Irma, life changed greatly – for the better – when we found a generator on day 5 of 6 without electricity. I began to re-enter the normal world. We could plug in fans, charge up phones and computers.
This is not my first hurricane. I moved to Florida in 1979 but never really felt the disaster of a direct hit until 2004 when the eye of Charley crossed my path. We were without power for a week, and it was August.
One thing you will realize when you are in the destruction zone is that for you, life stops, and survival begins. The rest of the world gets bored with hurricane photos and moves on to the next big story. You continue to search high and low for ice – the one thing you can’t stock up on, and the thing that everyone needs in this climate.
My Irma nightmare is over. I have air conditioning, I have a refrigerator that works, although it contains little food. No more searching for ice, and no more digging through coolers to find something to eat and drink. I can turn on a fan, and I sleep at night without soaking in my own sweat. My home is not damaged. I am more lucky than many.
After watching the slow progression of Hurricane Irma for many, many days we sat inside a boarded up house and waited to see what would happen. Wind happened, and I know there were tornado warnings. We felt fairly safe with the hurricane shutters up, but the wind went on and on all night and into the next day.
I can’t comment on anything that happened to the US or anywhere else after Irma slammed through because after Sunday night (Sept. 10th) at around midnight, until yesterday, Saturday, the 16th, I was cut off from the world.
Limbs were down and the yard was the typical mess of branches to haul to the side of the road. Damage in my area was not all that bad. We thought the power would be back on quickly.
I work from home, so I rarely left my house. Without power, I could charge my phone from my laptop, but had to reserve the charge to let my far away family members how we were. I still don’t know what path Irma took. That’s how it is when you are IN the hurricane. Once it hits you know nothing but your own small area of life – for days and days… on and on. It’s like you sink into a new world while the normal world goes on without you.
We did not have a generator. My son works at Home Depot and he said that before the storm, the generators were flying out of the store as soon as they arrived. We assumed we could survive a few days without power and then invest in a generator to be ready for next time.
Wrong. After about day 3 or 4 – they run together – disgust with the hot weather turns to anger … about everything. The mind becomes a bit nutty when you sit in your own sweat day and night.
The worst thing for me was the fact that the entire opposite side of the road had power by day 2. And we, just across the street, still sat outside hoping for the slightest of breezes. We watched all our food spoil and spent lots of time searching for ice. I was mad at my neighbors for living a normal life and being oblivious to the fact that I was not. I wanted an explanation from the power company. I saw no reason for my suffering, and their trucks never came near my house. (I know they were working on it, but at that point it just made me mad.)
I searched through coolers trying to find food, but the heat made me lose my appetite, and all we wanted was to feel cool air and drink a cold drink. Drinking ice was even more scarce than bags of ice. Cooking anything on the grill was not appealing in the heat. Riding around in the car worked for a short time, but we always had to return to the sweltering house. The FPL site told us the power would be on by Sunday – but that was still days away. I seriously thought I might lose my mind by then.
Finally on day 5 my son had reported that the store where he worked had ONE generator. We rushed over and bought it. We also bought the only window AC unit. By Friday afternoon we were feeling cool air, and we could run fans and hook up the internet. I work online, and hadn’t worked at all in five days.
The store was still out of ice, but my son found a place to get some. (It’s our secret.)
That night I slept with a big fan blowing on me. We plugged in the fridge, and on Saturday we unpacked our coolers with the little bit of food left. Around noon Saturday we suddenly had power! I kept expecting it to go back off… but it didn’t. The AC came on and I had to get used to having electricity to use. You really do forget that you can turn on a light!
We took a ride over to the coast a few days ago and saw lots of docks along the River which were damaged. The boat ramps and parks were closed.
Photo taken while riding in the car. We saw lots of sunken, broken and tipped over docks and boat houses.
Some of the roads were closed at the bridges where I imagine the ocean did some damage during high tide.
Breakers Restaurant looked great, but the beaches were closed. People parked and walked on, but there was no driving on the beach allowed.
So the power is on at my house. It is still not on in many places, and I know what that feels like. Not everyone has a generator either, and believe me, the heat and humidity here in Florida is dangerous when you have to be in it 24 hours a day. September feels nothing like Fall here in Florida.
The beach here looks good. Breakers is still standing. We have a generator and will be ready for the next storm. But, this storm has been very costly. We lost all our food from the fridge and chest freezer. I couldn’t work for 5 days, and we spent about $1,000 on a generator, gas cans, gas, and a window AC unit.
Last October as I was getting ready to close on my house Hurricane Matthew swept in and put a dent in my plans. I was literally on the way to the closing when the Realtor got the word that all closings were put on hold until after the storm passed.
Now Hurricane Irma is targeting the entire state. That is quite rare. I think it accounts for the massive run on gas, water and generators. Usually some of us Floridians are spared the brunt of the storm, so only a section of the state has to prepare. The rest of us watch and see where the storm heads.
This time gas was gone at many places by Tuesday around here. Any stations with gas had long lines. More deliveries came, and my two sons were able to get gas after waiting in line. I’ve waited for gas before, but it was after the hurricane had passed. It was tough to get deliveries to the stations. People needed gas for their generators. At my location, we were without power for 7 days after Hurricane Charlie.
Now, many people are evacuating the state. There is no place to go to avoid Irma within the state, since the storm is going straight up through. I wonder where all those people will go. Many may be coming from Miami, and many are probably tourists who have to cut their vacations short.
I live near the East coast, but not directly on the water. I am not evacuating. My son is a firefighter so he will have to go into work for the duration of the storm. My other son will sit through it with me and our two cats.
This is what we’ve done to get ready.
We don’t have a generator, so we’ve stockpiled ice in coolers. I’ve also frozen bags of water and been making ice cubes. I’m filling everything I can find with drinkable water and have 2 big buckets of water for whatever. We have plenty of food. Unfortunately we will probably lose some food in the freezer. That is where a generator would come in handy. That and running the AC!
But we haven’t even been in this house for a year. Our money has gone toward so many things, as is the case when you move. And really, we had a hurricane last year… why another one? We will have a generator by next summer, since it’s a good investment in this state.
We are on city water, so hopefully we will not be without water for too long. The heat will get to me, but if we have water, I can cool off a bit.
Stay safe if you live here. Often these storms surprise us by not being as bad as predicted. I hope this is the case with Irma.
I was in New Smyrna for a closing on my new house, and my son and I took a look at the beach. It was four days after Hurricane Matthew and we wanted to see how badly the beaches were hit. Happily I found that Breakers Restaurant, right on the beach, was still standing, and open for business!
If you’ve ever visited the area, you will know it’s the pink building at the end of Flagler Ave., with that awesome view of the ocean. If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the front, you can eat at the bar and watch the waves roll in.
The parking lot across the street from Breakers is no longer free to park (that stinks), so we drove in just long enough to get a few pictures. It was raining, so my photos aren’t that great, but I wanted to share the better ones I took. I would have liked to get out and walk around, but the weather did not allow for it.
The ocean was churning up sand and the tide was high – at least the water was high – I don’t’ know what the tide schedule was. The beach entrance was blocked off to drivers (you can drive on the beach here), mainly because there was no beach. Below is a bad photo of the sign at the beach entrance.
One thing we noticed as we drove around the area was that the coast had been hit with more wind than we were inland. Everywhere we saw debris piled up along the roads ready for removal. Power trucks were everywhere, which meant that a lot of people were still without electricity. Buildings had shingles missing, and trees were down in some areas. Some places had tarps on the roof.
Luckily, the damage was a lot less than what was predicted. Many people along the coast evacuated, and had to sit for days wondering what shape their homes were in.
We headed south at Peninsula Ave. and took the south causeway home. The north causeway has a drawbridge for tall boats, mainly sailboats I would assume, but the south causeway bridge does not open. We headed home feeling very lucky that, at our rental house inland, we did not even lose power during the hurricane.
As I sit here, 20 miles inland from the east coast Florida beaches, I wonder what kind of devastation is taking place over there as Hurricane Matthew passes by.
Here, the wind was howling with gusts of 50-70mph, but we got off easier than originally thought. My rental house did not blow away as I had feared. We have minor damage in the yard with limbs broken and the fence leaning. Now the storm is moving on to the north, and all this wind and rain will eventually die down.
After the three hurricanes in 2004 – Charlie, Frances and Jeanne – I had visited the seashore in New Smyrna Beach to see the damage. My husband (at the time) and I ate at Breakers on Flagler Ave. and we could see that the sand was all washed away down along the shore. The ocean was coming up around the place, and the beach ramp was under water.
A few days after our visit, the restaurant was condemned for safety issues. I remember how the sight of the ocean having taken over the beach was so sad. So I am thinking that this time I will find a similar situation. The beaches will have to be re-built. And what about the sea creatures? How have they fared?
The beaches eventually recovered from the 2004 storms, and they will this time too. Once the news crews can get beachside, we’ll be able to see the devastation.