We can hardly claim that we have had it bad. I guess it is all relative, and I see things from within my bubble of reality. I know others have suffered much worse, many are displaced and exhausted, wishing for the comforts we all take for granted. Yet, the emotional strain of this one was probably more of an issue for me that the actual impact of the storm itself, and writing about this small passage in my life is equivalent to the t-shirts that blare, "I survived Hurricane Francis!" If anything, writing just lets me "get it out"- and someday will only serve to entertain me.
Finding the humor it most of it now, we had family visiting Florida from California, caught in the middle of a hurricane, and staying with us for the sake of safety in numbers. As much as I LOVE my family, I don't think I was the perfect hostess this time. It was, without a doubt, a comedy of tourists in my home, unaware of what a hurricane really did, and the impact it would have. Our fridge was packed with food although we made an effort not to buy anything that needed refrigeration, our counters piled with bread and non-perishables, and we had no ice available except for the tiny bit left after my father had emptied our ice bin before the trip to NY just a day before. The boys were anxious to use any toy that required D batteries, and simply didn't understand why we needed to keep the batteries charged. I think I played every game with the boys that I could tolerate: Sequence, Jenga, Cranium Kadoo, Harry Potter Uno, Battleship, Connect 4, and that awful game, MOUSE TRAP!!
Gas stations were closed, streets were fairly vacant, and stores no longer offered last minute purchases. Several hours on Saturday, while awaiting the storm, curfews in effect so that emergency personnel could move about the cities, the boys got into some altercation that caused the little one to loose his balance, pulling the keyboard tray out with him at the computer, and slicing his chin. We spent a good half an hour packing it up (we had already moved our cars in place for the hurricane, jamming the rental as close to the garage as possible) and calming little Joseph down enough to get him to the hospital for 4 (four) stitches in his chin. Once they returned we continued the waiting game, waiting and waiting for the storm to come to shore. Unlike Charlie, that whipped through within a few short hours, this one began a 36 hour tease and torment session with much of Florida. Gary and I did what we could to prepare for the monster the media incessantly discussed on every channel. At least a day before we really began to feel the impact my nerves were shot. By the time the storm actually arrived, I was feeling like I had the flu, unable to sleep, I was scared, worried, distracted, and suffering a significant amount of stomach discomfort. During the day, I lay on the couch, the boys begging me for a new day of game playing, and with little more than 2 hours sleep I could only lay on the couch and stare at our tree the leaned closer and closer to our deck and brand new air conditioner. We lost power at about 4am Sunday, lost phones late Sunday, and spent most of the day watching the winds and rain. Deprived of our electronics, I kept close ear on a portable radio for tornado warnings. As some of the squalls died down, I began to hear bangs on my door as we had two units that lost roofing and suffered damage. My propane camp stove was set up, only to have all the hair burned off my hands because a gasket (O-ring) was bad on the connector. My neighbor Marv, who had just about everything you would never think you would need, provided me a temporary gasket so we could heat some water and food. Monday morning, our family packed it up to return to Ft. Lauderdale and catch a flight home that night. I made 8-9 sandwiches for their trip, opening our fridge too many times for the condiments necessary to finish the sandwiches. Mike later commented that I had forgotten the pickles. They bought up newspapers and T-shirts - "I survived Hurricane Frances"- about their adventure while Gary and I sat quietly in our home waiting for power and collecting ice bags for the elderly residents of our community. I spent much of Monday knocking on doors to ensure everyone was ok, then attempting to call insurance and our management company to see what could be done before the next set of rain came roaring through. Our neighborhood was a-buzz with unified efforts to help each other. Monday we all cooked and grilled as much of our perishables as possible, sharing ribs, chicken, sausages and other tidbits. Meanwhile, our tree hung perilously close to crushing our air conditioner so our close friend Andrew, his son Michael, and our friend Mark promised a trip to our home Tuesday morning to "save the AC" from impending disaster. Gary and I abandoned ship and stayed the night at his parents place who had electricity and whose cat, Duffy, made the night restless, as he didn't like being confined to one room for OUR comfort.
Later Monday, our friends arrived, chainsaws in hand, ripping down our tree with such speed and skill I was impressed! All of us moved branches to the road and helped organize the piles for the city to pick up. Neighbors made ice runs, distributing to accouter while we waited for our power to return. THEN- three hours before my first set of Grad classes my neighbor asked me if I was enjoying the AC yet... Turns out we got our power back, much sooner than many all around Florida. The blessings were great!! Gary and I celebrated with a "cleaning of the fridge" ceremony and a hot shower and I attended my first set of classes- clean but frazzled!
I certainly admit that my story is a tickle compared to the hardships of so many more. We have displaced students and instructors at IADT, some whose homes have become unlivable and condemned. My prayers are with all of them as IVAN makes its way towards us.
Labels: adventure, family, fear, hurricane, stories, thoughts