The Calm Before the Storm

The house we left behind.

We just went through a hurricane. Irma barrelled through Naples just a week ago and heavens did we have an adventure. Things are still not back to normal but they are getting there.

But let me start at the beginning. Last Saturday we were all prepared for the hurricane. The storm shutters were up and my parents had moved in to weather the storm with us.  We had food and water and were as prepared as we could be.

Then we looked at the storm surge map on NOAA.gov.

They were predicting that we could have 6-11 feet of flooding. Six feet of water is taller than I am by a good stretch. After seeing the horror that happened in Houston we started calmly freaking out. Would our house be underwater?

We did what we had to do–less than 24 hours before the storm hit, we left. We packed up what we could take in an hour, bundled the cats into the car (and boy were they unhappy, I have the scratches to prove it), and we headed north out of Naples. Irma was coming and we weren’t going to wait around until the water reached our lower lip.

I never thought there would be a day when I would take what I could grab and flee my home. From time to time in our lives we look around and think about what we might take it we had to leave at a moment’s notice. For me, I had my computer with my novel, some of my good jewelry, my Grandpa Wally’s wedding ring, and the cats. Other than a few changes of clothes and some food and water, we left everything behind, not knowing if there was going to be anything to come back to.

It was surreal. How do you mentally prepare for something like that?

We left at about 7 pm and headed up I-75 towards Tampa. Both my parents and Kosta and I had full tanks of gas and that got us to Ocala. We were down to a quarter tank and there was no gas to be had anywhere. All the gas stations were EMPTY. Everyone evacuating in the days previous had sucked up every last drop of fuel that remained. There were no hotel rooms available anywhere. So we went to a hurricane shelter.

But my parents had to split up with Kosta and me. We had to stay at Vanguard High School in Ocala because it was the pet friendly shelter, and Mom and Dad had to go to the special needs shelter because she is oxygen dependent. It was hard to say goodbye to them for a few days, but we did what we had to do.

We were late–it was after 11 pm when we got to the shelter.  We were so late they didn’t have space to keep Shady and Fingers at the high school. They had to transport them to the local animal shelter for the duration of the storm. But they probably had better accommodations than we did. We registered, and were shown to a windowless classroom.

To be continued…

After the Storm

Last Sunday morning we had quite a storm rip through Naples, and there were reports of several tornadoes. My iPhone woke me at 5:15 am telling me there was a tornado warning and to take cover.

For those of you who don’t live in Florida this is extremely unusual. The only time we have tornadoes they are usually riding the tail of a hurricane. We always have plenty of warning for that. But we don’t have tornado sirens, we don’t have basements in which to shelter. To be honest, we were totally unprepared for it.

But thankfully nothing happened. The wind gusted up to 85 mph, a lot of trees and tree branches came down, but there was no building damage and no one was hurt. There were pockets of town right on the coast that were without power for over a day, but all in all, it wasn’t a disaster.

I got to go to the beach this morning and I took some interesting pictures of the effects the storm had on the beach.

A palm that fell across Gulfshore Blvd.

A palm that fell across Gulfshore Blvd.

A ficus branch that fell across the beach walk.

A Ficus branch that fell across the beach walk.

The boardwalk over the dune was probably torn up bu the storm surge. Unluckily, the storm came ashore at high tide.

The boardwalk over the dune was probably torn up bu the storm surge. Unluckily, the storm came ashore at high tide.

The sea grass has all been swept away, and look at that bank the sea cut into the sand.

The sea grass has all been swept away, and look at that bank the sea cut into the sand.

Quite a few of these Florida FIghting Conchs washed up on shore.

Quite a few of these Florida FIghting Conchs washed up on shore.

The problem was they were all still inhabited. So back into the water they went!

The problem was they were all still inhabited. So back into the water they went!

It may have been chilly this morning--just 49 degrees, but the air was exhilirating to me.

It may have been chilly this morning–just 49 degrees, but the air was exhilarating to me.

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Happy me at the beach! I wish I could come here every morning. There is something about this place that anchors me in place and keeps me from living in my head too much.  It is 100% the best thing about living in Florida.