This, hopefully, will be my last rant about Irma
Tuesday 9.12.17 4:20 pm EST
Irma has finished her dance with the sunshine state. She hovered over Naples for hours pummeling them with rain and devastating winds. She even left a storm surge of about 3 feet. The last time I saw Irma's location was Sunday night around 9:15 right before we saw sparks flying out our sliding glass doors followed by a loud POP. Then, darkness and silence. Well, it was still and silent inside. Outside was complete chaos. I fully expected to see the wicked witch of the west ride by on her bicycle with that little dog too. It was so dark in the condo. Even after an hour I couldn't make out the slightest shape of a chair or fan or Bob. Just black and dark and quiet. Irma had made her way up from Naples draining every canal,river, lake, bay, swimming pool, etc...but she lost her shape. That big fat bitch fell apart and quickly downgraded to a category 2! That's what the weather channel said right before our power went out.
I had prepared for the darkness. We had a large dinner and packed a cooler with more food. I had filled a bag with playing cards, tea lights, matches, batteries, and so on. Battery packs and electronics were all fully charged. We failed to get any kind of first aid kit together though. Priorities. Ha ha.
Our sliding glass doors are made of hurricane proof glass and open to a large screened in lanai. We didn't board them up so as soon as the power went out I sat in front of those sliders and just watched the storm. The wind was unbelievable. I'm not sure that I mentioned it before but the condo is in a two story building with us being on the ground floor. The building is still built up a few feet though. I'd say my front door is about 3.5 feet off the ground. We are in an end unit with an identical building running parallel with us. At the other end of our building, sitting perpendicular is a two story concrete clubhouse twice the size of our building. Needless to say, I felt I was in the safest place I could be. Sure, I'm in zone A, the zone closest to the water and most susceptible to deadly storm surges and strongest winds, but still I felt safe. Where was I?
Right. The power just went out and I sat in front of the sliding glass doors watching the storm. Other than the occasional flashes of lightning, it was pitch black. The wind howled and whistled loud enough to drown out the caterwauling from my damn cat. We get plenty of storms, tropical disturbances and whatnot with wind gusts up to 70 mph but this was much much stronger. I've never witnessed winds as powerful as Irma's. Palm fronds flew by the sliders. Branches from the fruit trees and pine cones and was that a scooter?! Yup! A kids scooter flew by. I giggled but out of pure fear. The worst part of the storm, for me, was hearing the huge Cypress trees cracking with every gust until SNAP! The trees were being torn apart. Sparks were flying from the power lines. In a flash of lightening I watched a pine tree rip out of the ground. It actually uprooted in front of me and flew to I don't know where. Every time the gusts came, large branches or full trees flew by the window. Outside looked like the end of the world but inside it was silent and pitch black. The contrast was unbelievable. Irma was unbelievable. The fact that scooters and huge garbage cans flying through the air was actually quite believable. So many people leave their shit outside during a storm. You almost get used to seeing pool chairs flying through the sky. Sighhh....
I didn't sleep Sunday night at all. I laid in bed watching and listening to the storm. It was raining but I couldn't tell due to the wind gusts and therefore didn't worry about the rain or potential flooding. I worried about my children who were less than 10 miles away. I worried about my father boarded up in his small house that is an inch above sea level on the driest of days. I worried about the squirrels that I pretended to hate and all of the other wildlife. How do they survive such a storm?! I worried about friends and family that had evacuated to Georgia or Alabama. Would they be able to get back home? Would they have a home to return to? I worried that this was it. Irma finally wore my mind out and I napped for about an hour around 5am.
I woke up Monday morning to lots of text messages. My ex saying he and the kids were safe and that they still had power but the roads were flooded and water was rising quickly towards his doorstep. My sister messaged they had lost power and stressed her disappointment that Irma turned out to be nothing but a severe thunderstorm (in my sisters mind only though). My coworkers and employees saying they were okay and many group texts offering and/or requesting assistance. It was all too surreal. Bob and the cat were snoring soundly. The condo was still pretty cool. I'd guess under 80 degrees. I made sure all the blinds were shut tightly creating a dark cool cave, grabbed my kindle and read all day and night. I would fall asleep often. I read and napped for over 24 hours. I did open the fridge once, but only for a second to grab a cold water. I read two books and caught up on a months worth of lost sleep.
I awoke this morning, Tuesday, at 9am. I wanted coffee but settled with sweet tea that I had packed in the cooler. I checked my emails, sent a few to my online friends and family and by 10 am Bob and I were stir crazy. Can you imagine? Less than 48 hours and already too bored and restless?! I called work but the phone lines were down. We cleaned out the fridge and straightened up the condo. Bob called the electric company and got a recording that stated our power will be restored by September 22nd. Omg. That's ten more days. We decided to pack up some clothes and toiletries and drove 3 miles up the road to Bob's parents house. They have power and we needed a shower and a real meal. We are still at his parents where we are watching a movie in a cool dark den. Luckily we have a place to go until our power is restored. Don't worry! I left plenty of food and water for the cat! We will go see him tomorrow after work.
Oh...I forgot! Bob and I did drive into town earlier, after we showered. I saw on Facebook this morning that a couple of gas stations actually had gas and that the roads were clear enough to drive on. Over 115,000 people in our area lost power. Nearly 90,000 have had their power restored. McDonalds is open. A few grocery stores are open. People are trying to return to some kind of normalcy. Bob drove which allowed me to view the aftermath of Irma's big blow job. Telephone poles were hanging by power lines. The closest Chinese restaurant had a tree fall onto it. A street with 7 mobile homes on it and one mobile home was completely destroyed, the other 6 looked perfect and untouched. Not even a shrub out of place. Part of the beach is gone. Completely. If you were to drive south down Beach road and swerve even slightly to the left, you'd be in the Gulf of Mexico. There are hundreds oc trees unrooted or shredded. It will take a long time to clean everything up but I am eternally grateful that my friends and family are safe. I am grateful that so many people are safe and sound. Irma had me worried. She had us all worried but in the end she was just a bunch of hot air.
Thanks for listening (reading) and keeping me company through this experience. Thank you so much for the prayers and good wishes. I am grateful for every single one!!