Hurricane Irma passed over a week ago and we are still picking up the pieces. In the twelve years that we’ve lived in Florida, this was our first major storm. It has been a crazy, emotional couple of weeks.
The entire week before was spent buying water, non-perishables, and gas. We used the last of our funds before payday to get the generator up and running. We pulled out our backpacking gear to have on hand when the power went out. I baked bread, over and over again. I dehydrated peppers. I ate all the ice cream.
The storm track showed Irma skirting the east coast of Florida. And then up the middle of the state, reaching us as a Category 3. This could have been the worst case scenario. The day before the storm, the track shifted again to skirt the west coast of Florida, which wasn’t much better, since the front right quadrant of a hurricane can cause the most damage with the highest chance of tornadoes.
We prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best. We packed clothes for three days and food to share. Little Monster has watched Daniel Tiger’s Big Storm episode enough and she took preparations seriously. We knew there was a chance we wouldn’t have a home to come back to. Hubby stored rifles in his truck, I took along my oboe, and we lovingly packed Faith’s ashes, ultrasound picture, and blanket. We lost her once already, but I wasn’t going to lose everything we had left to this storm.
We first planned to evacuate our mobile home if the winds got too high. As Irma approached we realized we needed to seek shelter before she arrived. Circumstances arose at our safe house in the day before the storm which had us scrambling for plans B, C, and D to keep our family safe. I was so thankful to have so many back up plans available to us! We weighed our options carefully.
Friends from church offered us their home. They live in a neighboring town, normally 12 minutes away. I was willing to sacrifice proximity for relative comfort and safety. Leaving our home behind was hard. There were tears (mine). But we were in the best place for us, filled with mattresses, a running generator, great company, and hospitality beyond measure. Our kids went through this storm excited for a sleepover, with toys to play with, TV to watch, and adults happy to spend time with them. So thankful.
The next morning Mr. J went out before sunrise to help all his neighbors. He then went with Hubby to chainsaw their way to our home and survey the damage. They returned and we took a short walk around their town, being mindful of the continuing winds and falling limbs. We then packed up our belongings and took the long drive home. A neighbor had let our goats and chickens out of the barn in the morning so we didn’t have to rush home. Driving up to see them grazing in the pasture was a beautiful sight. The hurricane even caused a couple chickens to start laying! They are only 4 and a half months, so we weren’t expecting eggs for another month, at least.
While we didn’t sustain any structural damage, there has been quite a bit of clean up. Little Monster took charge of clean up crew. I don’t think we had even walked in the house before she started picking up limbs. We had to put our yard back together. We had tied down and stored away so many things to limit projectiles. We are still working to reassemble some things.
Once power was restored we had a whole other level of cleaning to do in the home. Beds had to be put back together. I did eight loads of laundry over two days. I started baking bread again. We emptied and cleaned out water coolers and tubs. I washed toilets and sinks. We got to wash dishes with running water. And wash hands with running water again – I didn’t even realize how much I missed that.
We were without power for six days. Without internet for five. The generator helped bring normalcy to our lives. The kids weren’t traumatized. We had some great grilled meals al fresco. We spent a lot of time together as a family. We had sleepovers in our bedroom to stay cool at night with the one-room AC unit. We spent time at a friend’s house to cool down, take showers, do a load of laundry, borrow internet, etc. They were amazing hosts for those few hours. Little Miss had a birthday. I called Publix that morning to reserve their last round cake because I didn’t have an oven to bake in.
Times like this are when a person’s true self shines through. We unfortunately witnessed the worst of some in our path, but we have also experienced the best. We have been left with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness. For safety, our farm, our friends, family. For our ability to work together through absolutely anything. We are still picking up the pieces, but we are doing well. We have much to be thankful for.
More pictures of Irma through our eyes.