Riding Out The Hurricane
Hurricane Michael hit us harder than we had expected. We knew about it on a Sunday. He grew on Monday, and again on Tuesday. We spent all of Tuesday preemptively cutting down dangling limbs, picking up flotsam and jetsam, nailing down this and that, moving equipment into open space away from trees, collecting gas at stations at weird hours, making sure the generator worked, making sure we had water, food, and supplies.
By Wednesday, we new it was going to hit us and we had to decide whether to stay or go. We watched and waited and weren’t sure what to do. We finally decided to stay. All morning, with the first winds and rain, we did laundry, baked, cleaned, watched the news and watched the trees.
By eleven, I was ready to GET OUT! This storm suddenly didn’t seem like the sort of a storm to ride out. Big weather stations talked like Tallahassee was going to be flattened, but a local weather man, stayed focused and calm and explained in clear details that the storm was going to do some flattening and it was going to be bad, but that Tallahassee was not in the path of utter destruction.
So we watched and waited. We kept power until 3:30 in the afternoon when the storm peaked. It was wildly windy, but not constantly. The children took every opportunity, as the bands threw us moments of calm, to run into the yard and “be” in the storm. They chased leaves and let the rain fall on their faces, and checked the fences for damage from falling limbs. Then the bands would throw the wind and they would run back to safety and wait and watch.
Our pig, JP, had hunkered down in a safe spot at the back of the pasture. We thought the storm was over, but couldn’t be sure it wasn’t another band of calm, but as we walked towards the back pasture, she came trotting up towards us as if to say, “It’s all clear! Let’s eat!”
Trees fell all over and all around. George helped a friend with twenty trees down. Another had seventeen down, another had one in her house and others had them on their neighbors houses. Trees are Tallahassee pride because there are so many they are so big. So many giant trees fell. The clean up is still going on. We spent nearly a week without power on some of the hottest days of the year. It was grueling. But we had a house and a roof. We lost two pine trees and lots of limbs, but our front yard only had a few leaves tossed here and there.
Unfortunately neighboring towns were flattened. Mexico Beach was completely destroyed. I talked to people in a long grocery line that didn’t know if they had a house to go back to. People still wait to have a home. People still are relying on the graces of givers that bring relief and supplies.
I’m writing this as I travel across the country. A young lady sits next to me who works for a disaster relief company. She is headed to help with the fire clean up there. She has worked through countless hurricanes and she said she had never seen anything like what she saw in Mexico Beach and the surrounding areas that were hit so hard entire forests are gone.
It is hard to believe that we rode out such a powerful, disastrous storm. But there is something that comes with the helpless feeling of disaster. We all were outside and we all worked together. Fifteen people piled at our picnic table the next night and cooled off in our pool. Neighbors came by for coffee and hot showers (our hot water is gas), meals, and to just be together while we waited for the power to be restored. George and his chainsaws didn’t stop for days as he and our friend Josh AND the children cut and moved trees in the neighborhood and at friends. The children loved the time to be outside and make and create and explore. I grew quite thankful for the hum of our old school window fans that made the house manageable as the heat grew more intense as our days without power grew longer.
But our power is on. Our houses are in tact. There are so many who are still without. I am hopeful that, although the wait is excruciatingly long for our neighbors, that they too will experience restoration and soon.