Hurricane Irma II

Tuesday AM, September 12, 2017
Another day without power or communications. I drive outside the neighborhood to see what is happening. Two Publix Supermarkets are open, a group of offices (doctors, etc.) are open. Not much else. Even the gas station by the Publix is closed. I thought they were supposed to have generators in order to stay open after disasters. But I’ve heard on my battery-powered radio, that even those with power may not have gas.

Trees are torn apart and uprooted everywhere, but I only spot a couple of damaged houses. Amazing!

I fill gallon jugs for me and my neighbors at the water machine outside Publix and return home.

PM: Is that a generator I hear? And a power saw? Yes!

A neighbor’s brother has arrived from northern Florida. Three men join together, whipping through downed trees and branches, even an aluminum porch that blew away from one house. Francisco, Terry, and his brother Jack—what a team. They work together as an assembly line; cutting, hauling, loading, clearing my backyard along with their own. Good neighbors are a treasure.

Hurricane Irma

Monday, September 11, 2017.
I won’t be able to post this to my blog until we have Internet access. Readers in other parts of the world probably have more details about the storm than I do. I have no TV, no internet access, no power, no phone service. One neighbor has cell phone service and I borrowed her phone to send a text to my family to let them know I’m OK. It feels strange without communications. I do have a battery powered radio for some news and announcements.

We were lucky here in Fort Myers. The storm went 30 miles inland. That caused it to weaken, but mostly it eliminated the storm surge. Instead, I heard that the water was sucked out of the Caloosahatchee River, which runs not far from my house. If Irma had traveled 30 miles offshore, which was predicted until very late, we would have been flooded.

Irma’s path was guesswork during the week before she arrived. Predictions showed her traveling up Florida’s east coast, west coast, and right up the middle, changing often from one to the other. It even changed after Irma decimated Key West and headed for the mainland. Offices and businesses were closed, and meetings were cancelled all over the state. Three of my mid-month writers’ meetings were cancelled. I wish they were still happening so that I could socialize and discuss the storm.

I have my neighbors to talk to, and a friend stopped by today on her way to check on her home. She drives a pickup truck so can get around fairly well. She lives in zone A and had mandatory evacuation early. The friend’s house she went to ended up directly in the path of the storm. The eye passed over them. Much more damage and water there than at her house.

Neighbors are wonderful. My front yard is mostly cleaned of debris thanks to them. I’m getting too old and my knees protest too much to do a lot of cleaning up on my own. I was here for Charlie (2004) and Wilma (2005) and spent the days after working in the yard cleaning up. I feel guilty not being able to do the work this time.

Irma was stronger, larger, and lasted longer than either of my two previous experiences. The winds were fierce all day yesterday, Sunday. We had horizontal rain, first from the west, then north, then east. The eye passed to our east about 7 PM. I stayed in my home, a sturdy cinderblock ranch built in the 1950’s. At 2 PM Saturday, we were told to evacuate (zone B) due to possible storm surge. By that time, all the shelters were packed and hotel rooms hadn’t been available for days. To go north made no sense. You would be caught in lines of traffic and probably couldn’t outrun Irma. They were saying if we had friends inland, like Lehigh Acres, go stay with them. (Guess what? The eye of Irma passed directly over Lehigh.) Many in my neighborhood stayed.

We all survived. Our homes are intact. One house has a tree propped against the back. Luckily no one is living there. An older couple recently moved out, and the house hasn’t been sold. There are many trees and branches scattered across lawns and streets. Some trees came up by the roots because the ground was already saturated from a “pre-tropical” storm a couple of weeks ago (15+ inches at my house). I have no idea how much rain came with Irma. My rain gauge overflowed at 5.5 inches. I emptied it early with 1.3, and after with 1.5, so we had at least 8.3 inches. Probably lots more. Our neighborhood was built very well for drainage. Even though the water covered the street during the storm, it was gone by this morning. No one’s house was flooded.

This is not true for others. My heart goes out to those whose homes were damaged or flooded and to the people on the islands that were devastated by Irma.

Michael Chabon — Moonglow

Moonglow is a very different book—a fictionalized memoir or autobiographical novel. We don’t know how much of the novel is true (or true as remembered) and how much is Michael’s imagination.

Michael visits his dying grandfather, a man who has never talked about his life. But whether because he is dying or the effects of medication, the grandfather pours out stories of love, war, prison, of working as an engineer in the space industry, and stories of Michael’s grandmother and mother. Mixed in with the stories told by the grandfather are Michael’s own memories and stories told by his mother. The events are in no particular order, but they weave a picture of a family.

I enjoyed the read and came to admire the grandfather, even though he was not always likeable. I recommend this book for someone who likes a book off the beaten path.

Carl Hiaasen — Tourist Season

Carl Hiaasen writes black humor about Florida. Tourist Season is one of his earlier books written in 1986.

It’s obvious to me that Hiaasen loves Florida but not necessarily the developers and the tourists. The villain in Tourist Season, Skip Wiley, is a columnist for the Miami Sun who feels the same as the author about Florida, but more vehemently. He goes over the edge of sanity and forms a rag-tag band of terrorists made up of crazy Cuban, a Seminole, and a black ex-football player. They commit kidnappings, bombings, and murder to create headlines that will send the tourists and developers back north and leave Florida to the wildlife.

Brian Keyes is a reporter turned private investigator. He is hired to find a couple of missing persons (kidnapped and disposed of by the terrorists), then hired by the editor of the Sun to find Wiley, and finally hired as a bodyguard for the Orange Bowl queen.

The book is filled with murder, mayhem, and lots of humor. I thoroughly enjoy reading Hiaasen.