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Archive for October 8th, 2017

 

 

Should I go or should I stay? Powerful Cat 5 Hurricane Irma was headed for Florida. All of Florida. No small one was this. If I stayed, the fifty year old Laurel oak might fall across the house, crushing my bed first and then the central bathroom where my son Jason and I would hunker down. If I chose go it would be to my son’s gun shop. Sturdy block building with no large trees as far as the eye could see, only acres of field across the street. It had a sturdy, enclosed stairwell and interior rooms under the stairs and was pet friendly. As much as I hated to pack up and leave, the choice was clear.

 

Curfew was Sunday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday. Twenty-three hours. My son said the shop’s power had never gone out in a storm, so we would have small fridge, air conditioning, microwave, lights, TV and room for his Bichon Frise Bolt and my Persian mix Emma to roam. What a set up.

 

Emma immediately found a hiding spot. She would find two more before the ordeal was over, each more difficult to find than the last, each taking a toll on my knees. Bolt was used to hanging out at the shop, so was right at home.

 

We realized one negative to our safe spot going in; thieves frequently braved hurricanes to rob one type business—gun shops. But we had a good security system, electricity to power it, with battery backup.  Also, more than a few guns. As a matter of fact, I even brought my personal S&W. I never sleep without it. Coals to Newcastle, you might think, but safety depends on being comfortable with your weapon in an emergency. Let’s just say, my son was well armed, too.

 

Without the usual sound of exploding transformer or flicker warning, the power went out like fingers dousing a candle wick about 10:00 p.m. Irma continued her wobbly two-step across the state, defying predictions and veering east, with the dirty side of the eye now headed for Orlando. We had plenty of flashlights, battery radios and continued following the approaching storm until the wee hours, Jason in his recliner, me on the leather love seat.

 

“What’s that red light on the box on the wall?” It was straight above my toes.

 

Jason didn’t have to turn around. “It tells me the backup battery is not working on the security system.”

 

“A gang of six have broken into Academy Sports and stole guns,” the radio’s timing was uncanny. Shortly they reported an independent gun shop in Daytona was robbed. All six thugs at Academy had been arrested, but not the latest bunch.

 

Wait a minute! Why did I turn down an offer from a dear Facebook friend to be picked up the day before the storm and whisked out of Florida in a Phenom 300 private jet? I don’t remember ever being as touched by a genuine gesture. With wind whistling outside, shaking the building, and water creeping in at the edges of the carpet, I wondered if I was also touched in the head. No. Decision made. Live with it, the operative word being live.

 

Out front the field looked like blowing ocean waves, an ocean that came right up to our front door. Jason tried to open the back, steel door at one point to check on the storm. With video I recorded his struggle to open it a foot and hold it open a few minutes. If you’ve seen weather guys taking a beating in the storm you know what it looked and sounded like. Wind showing its power against the door, rain pellets spraying his face. Grunting. Sorry, I had to laugh.

 

We weren’t very sleepy, though it was after midnight. As a matter of fact, we slept only one hour that night, from about 2:30 to 3:30 a.m. We woke to more banging outside as wind whipped small twigs and branches against the building, and vibrated it more than a few times. The radio hosts were sounding jovial and relaxed as if the worst of the storm had passed. It had where they were, and was exiting our area. We had slept through it.

 

Energy levels shot up and hunger chimed in. At 4:00 in the morning I peeled and ate a boiled egg and had a smoothie. Most delicious dinner/breakfast combination ever.

 

Jason fell back asleep near dawn and I tried, but all I wanted to do was check on my home. No way were we waiting until 6:00 p.m. We didn’t have to, the curfew was lifted at 11:00 a.m. A few more winks for Jason and too much time packing up and finding Emma and we pulled out onto a clear, wind dried road about 2:00 p.m. Grass in the field across the street blew in waves.

 

In the fourth grade, I rounded the corner after school to find my house burned to the ground. The feeling I got then returned as we crept into the neighborhood. No damage from the front. A quick survey showed none from the back. We’d have to run the generator for five days, but our window AC would cool us, and food would be safe in the fridge. We could even run the TV and a few lights. The air smelled of fresh cut wood and the earth after a summer shower. Neighbors all down the streets were already stacking mounds of limbs and sawn logs along the curb. In a few days our lawn boy would have ours cleared and mowed. Like it never even happened. But it had, and like all the other storms we survived in 41 years, we learned more lessons, sharpened our survival skills and would be even more ready for the next one. And there would be a next one. It’s the price of living in paradise.

 

 

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