Posted 09-28-2004 at 04:26:26
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Saturday the 25th:
5:00 a.m.-Woke up, double-checked the radar, still had a bullseye painted on us. Started doing all laundry.
11:00 a.m.-Went to the grocery store and bought a few groceries. Went home, continued with laundry.
12:00 p.m.-Dropped Jake off at his girlfriend's house to weather out the storm in a brick home instead of a mobile home. Went home - did more laundry. *Laundry must always be completely caught up as a storm approaches as the washer and dryer suck up gasoline from the generator like nobody's business.
1:00 p.m.-Loaded up groceries that I purchased earlier, and sent them with the girls to Sarasota where they were going to stay with a good friend in another brick home.
5:00 p.m.-Winds started to gust at about twenty-thirty mph. Finished laundry.
6:00 p.m.-Helped Fred feed the animals. Made a light supper. Couldn't tell you now what it was.
7:00-10:00 p.m.-Shuffled 'easily thawed' frozen items from deep freeze to kitchen freezer and 'hard as a rock' frozen items from kitchen freezer to deep freeze. (When the power goes off, the only freezer that goes on the generator is the one in the kitchen refrigerator, because it has to be opened and closed to access ice and stuff in fridge.) Moved my truck out from under the light pole and away from the house to protect it from debris. Moved tractor out to the dirt road so that we could park Fred's truck beside it as a wind block, in case we needed to stay in the truck for a few hours. Got online for the last time and then wrapped computer in plastic.
11:00 p.m.-Went to bed, and actually went to sleep.
Sunday the 26th:
2:30 a.m.-Sound of something banging woke me up. Don't know what it was, but it prompted me to go in the living room and listen to Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel. He was not encouraging. The northward turn that Jeanne was supposed to make, had still not happened, and it didn't appear that it was going to happen until it was too late. Conclusion, Jeanne was coming in right over top of us. The wind was really gusting now, maybe in the neighborhood of fifty to sixty mph; I couldn't say for sure, all I know is that the mobile home was creaking and groaning and I could feel it lifting slightly on the north side. I got scared, woke Fred up, and began a campaign to get him to leave the house and move to the truck. It worked.
3:00 a.m.-Donned rain coats/rubber boots, grabbed flashlights and two bottles of water and the video camera, ducked our heads, and splashed our way to the truck.
3:05 a.m.-Realized that I needed to use the restroom. Fred said..."it's nerves." I said..."you reckon?"
3:07 a.m.-After heated debate, I exited the truck, bent into the wind and made my solitary way some forty yards back to the house to use the restroom. Debated not going back to the truck. A single gust of wind in the neighborhood of sixty to seventy miles an hour rocked the house and settled it. I went back to the truck, noting on the way that the power lines above my head were dancing around in the wind. Realized then what sparked the debate about making the trip, and why Fred had tried to talk me out of it. I redeemed myself by making it back safely...with two pillows in a plastic garbage bag.
3:15 a.m.-4:30 a.m-Made video tape of wind screaming around the truck and blowing rain in from the north on a direct horizontal angle, clearly illuminated by the headlights of the truck. Fred mentioned that he had seen something large blow across the yard, but could not say what it was. I mentioned that I needed to use the restroom again. He outlined an elaborate plan detailing how I could 'make do' by sheltering behind the rear tire of the tractor. I was not enthusiastic about this plan, but with visions of the power lines bouncing around, I was less enthusiastic about going back to the house again.
4:32 a.m.- Was 'thrown' back into the truck by the wind. Removed drenched rain coat, and huddled in soaked clothing under a spare t-shirt Fred had in the truck, trying to keep warm.
4:40 a.m.- Fred and I both dozed off, watching the yard light blink on and off.
4:55 a.m.- We were both jarred awake by a tremendous gust of wind. Fred cursed enthusiastically and I backed him up. We speculated that we were on the leading edge of the eye, and the man on the radio concurred. I took more video.
6:00 a.m.- After cat-napping, we were again awakened by a frighteningly intense gust of wind. The sustained winds by now were hovering in the neighborhood of sixty miles an hour, gusts upwards of ninety to ninety-five or greater. The tractor sheltered us from the brunt of it, but still the truck rocked like a boat on a stormy sea. The ditches on either side of the truck now contained roughly three feet of water and I had a sudden image of the truck rolling, and penning us upside down in the water-filled ditch and prayed that it would soon be over.
7:00 a.m.-A fitful, gloomy dawn was approaching. Fred was dozing, my eyes had gone dry from staring through the windshield trying to make out the house beyond the windshield wipers and the blowing rain. It appeared to still be there but the power was clearly off. A sudden gust of wind lifted the truck roughly on the passenger and Fred sat bolt upright in the seat. "Huh?" He said. "I didn't say anything." I replied. "That was Jeanne talking to you."
8:00 a.m.-Fred and I had changed roles; he was now staring out the window while I slept. The radio reception had become unreliable so we had no idea what was going on. Fred woke me at 8:15. the wind had died down and he indicated that he was going to go check the house.
It was over! Hallelujah!
8:17 a.m.- The house seemed fine. The large item that Fred had seen blowing across the yard was a 12 X 15 roof section left over from Charley that had been lying in the back yard. It was now lying in the front yard blocking the driveway. The power was off, but the telephone worked. I called Jill on her cell phone, assured her that we were all right, and then spoke to the dear friend who was sheltering her. In her thick British accent, she broke my heart.
"Doooon't let yer guard down, love! Yer only in the eye!"
8:30 a.m.- I informed Fred in no uncertain terms that there was no way in the free world that I was getting back in that truck. I didn't care if Saint Peter himself swooped down and carted me away to heaven. I was ready to go. We came to an agreement. During the lull, he set up the camp stove and the generator and hooked up a television so that we could watch the weather. I cooked bacon and eggs and we had a leisurely breakfast and literally slept through the rest of the storm; him on one couch, me on the other - only waking in the most serious wind gusts.
2:00 p.m.-It was mostly over, other than a few renegade wind gusts. We had caught up on rest and were now just waiting for the squalls to end so that we could get outside.
6:00 p.m.-Went outside to feed, still battling windy conditions and found the pasture pigs had been 'scoured' by the wind and rain and I remarked that a pasture pig never looked lovelier than after a hurricane. They were shades of pristine white and pink and clearly not in the best humor, but their appetites had suffered not one whit. Fred found one tiny two-week old piglet off by himself way across the pasture and returned him to the herd. He was squealing vociferously and no worse for the wear. We then found two, month old piglets, snuggled into a five-gallon feed bucket where they had apparently weathered the storm in fine style. Aww!
8:00 p.m.-With the kids still in their 'safe houses' Fred and I agreed to sleep in the living room so that we could run the unit air conditioner off the generator. By nine-thirty we were sawing logs. Fred woke me at ten p.m. to inform me that the generator had burned up. I was too tired to become alarmed or to care. Jake returned home just in time to sleep in a hot house, but to his credit, didn't complain once.
Monday 5:45 p.m.-After borrowing two generators and stringing five heavy duty cords all over the house, the power came back on. I felt a mixture of jubilation and irritation, a common combination of emotions the last six weeks. I dared not give voice to my frustrations lest the 'Hurricane Gods' should overhear and become upset with me.
Monday 10:00 p.m.-All is back to normal. The kids are home, the rain has stopped, the wind is a gentle breeze. I lingered before sleep, tucked under a dry comforter in my own bed, able to relax for the first time in forty-eight hours and pondered the rest of hurricane season, wondering if we had seen that last of violent weather for the season.
10:00 p.m.-I drifted gently off to sleep, and for the first time in days, did not dream of a hurricane.