Let me start at the beginning. I've lived in Florida my whole life. Yep forty-seven years spent in the Tampa area. We've seen a lot of storms. We've had plenty of hurricanes aimed right at us, but most of them veer away. This time, we got hit dead-on. Irma's eye literally passed over my house. Thank God, she was down to a low category two at that point.
We were prepared for worse, though. For the first time in all my years here, we boarded our windows.
By the time my husband got to Lowe's, they were out of plywood, so he grabbed some fence panels. Truth be told, these probably worked better. They sure fit our wide, tall windows better! And, they let a little light in, which was nice. Especially when it came through this board:
The fence is pressure-treated pine. My dad, a contractor, said it's the knots that do this, the way they get cut lengthwise. During the bright times of the day, this looked like it was on fire. So pretty!
Of course, the days didn't stay bright. The day Irma hit was dark, and obviously rainy and windy to say the least! We had power most of Sunday, until Irma moved into our area full-force that evening. We spent the day watching movies with my brother, who spent the weekend here to take shelter from the storm because he lives in a mobile home. After a couple of blips in the evening, around 10:30 pm the power finally went out completely. We all headed to bed.
We did not all sleep, however. Beastie 1 and I both were up half the night. I stayed in my room, reading on my Kindle until a little after 1:00 am...when all went silent.
The eye had arrived.
The storm was MUCH weaker on the other side of the eye, so I laid my Kindle on the nightstand and finally got some sleep. Not that it stayed that way, because the power being out and the house being so, so quiet meant every little sound was amplified. Beastie 2's hamster running on his wheel. And something started beeping at like 3 am.
Still, I managed some sleep. And in the morning, all was good. No power, but we have a generator, so we hooked up the fridge to save all the food, and the coffee maker to save all our sanity, and the TV so we could keep track of everything.
Don't ya just love it? All the tie-downs and boards bracing things, and the beach umbrella keeping the generator dry. Only in Florida, folks, only in Florida....
The thing is, we had so much to be thankful for. This was all we got from Irma:
Branches everywhere, but nothing more on our property and most of the properties around us. We spent Monday morning gathering and raking and loading branches onto our trailer and into garbage bags. And when our yard was done, we hit a few neighbors' yards.
And now...things are almost back to normal. Our power came back Monday evening. (We sent the generator to my dad's so he could run his well pump and have water again.) My brother is back at his place with full power and water. Even my mom, who lives on a canal and drove to Orlando before the storm, has no damage at her place. Not everyone in our area is so lucky--still lots of power outages and a nearby river is rising and rising, flooding houses that line it. Members of my church teamed together to take those people supplies.
We got started on homeschooling yesterday--both the Beasties dove in without me saying a word. I think they were just happy to be okay! Last night, we even went out to dinner. Cabin fever was setting in a bit, I think.
We are so grateful that Irma was not what we expected. And still praying for those who did get hit harder than we did--yet grateful they didn't get harder than they did, which originally looked like a real possibility. Southern Florida is hurting, but if Irma had hit as a Category 5 as expected, it'd be devastating.
I want to thank all of those of you who prayed for us specifically, for our area and state in general, and all the areas affected by Irma. And thank you to medical staff and the police and fire departments, who worked non-stop through all of this. Thank you to every worker out there working on power lines, to those clearing trees and debris, to those rescuing people and pets from flooded areas. Every thought, every good deed is appreciated!