The Day After Irma

I have experienced many things in my life which brought extreme feelings of fear, terror, panic and/or the idea that death was inevitable. I’ll save them for other blogs however since listing them would spoil so many great opportunities to bore my dedicated readers.

Irma. This storm was something…I left my little barrier island town because it was supposed to be under about six feet of water and evacuated my way over to my grandparents house in Orlando. Safe, solid, steady, well-built Orlando. Did you read my last post about how I hate meteorologists? If I hated them before, it is absolutely, positively, unmeasurably unquestionable that I detest them now.

Irma went right up the state and the eye of the storm nicked O-town. I have to say I got lucky, or blessed depending on  how you look at it I suppose. I was about twenty miles from the epicenter of the madness of what used to be the eye of the storm. After it broke up, the eye literally went from a circle and formed into a wall. Looking at Irma on the radar on my phone, it was a giant, wall of red coming straight for where I was. Well shitter me timbers.

We’d lost power several hours prior so it was difficult to know what was actually going on at the time. I’d downloaded that app Zello which although wasn’t really necessary, it was … entertaining to say the least. I know it saved quite a few lives but for me it was just funny listening to people argue about Irma – climate change – politics and how they are all interrelated while outside 75+ mph winds are destroying these same peoples houses, neighbors houses, street lights, well pretty much everything in it’s path.

As I was saying though. I got lucky. The storm veered just the slightest amount you could think of to the west which made more difference than you could ever imagine. Twenty miles. That’s it. Had I been twenty miles more to the west than I was at my location instead of maybe sixty or so mph winds, it probably would’ve been more like eighty or ninety. I was fascinated, I couldn’t stop watching the radar loop over and over again.

I said earlier I was terrified and frightened and all that but to be honest I wasn’t. I mean, I was but more than anything I was angry and as I have said time and time again, anger doesn’t truly exist, it’s merely fear in physical form. So, in that sense yup, I was scared out of my whitey tidies. I was angry because I was just getting my life together and here comes this wall of doom at the lovely low speed of fifteen mph packing winds up to ninety mph. And then it just shifted twenty miles west about twenty miles before it would’ve hit my location. Whew.

I think I mentioned I was staying with my grandparents during the storm, and their house was surrounded by some pretty massive oak trees. No bueno during a storm like that. I stayed up until about 3:30 am on the front porch which was protected because the garage extended much further than the porch and the wind was hitting the garage giving me a little sort of bubble where I could sit on a bench and just watch the chaos and madness of the wind and rain ensue.

It was like nothing I have ever seen before.

For one thing, it was much brighter than any hurricane I’d ever been through and I think Irma makes it like #10 for me maybe? Give or take, I don’t remember them all. Even at 3:30 it was like it was dusk and I was thinking, this storm is so thick and so massive that it might be distributing light through the rain from other places that hadn’t had power shut off yet. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

The next thing was how bad-ass these oak trees were. They were taking a freaking beating and they were not going down without a fight. I mean, really…I heard creaking, moaning, groaning, like Lord of The Rings trees kinda deal last night and those things didn’t come down. Well, at least the ones that I could see. Some neighbors down the street weren’t so lucky.

The last thing that was so incredible was the Forrest Gump style rain. The raindrops never really seemed to hit the ground. They just kept going into these circular motions up, down, up down, always moving horizontally to the west with a massive roar that again, I’d never seen or heard before from all of my hurricane experiences.

Now, my fascination with this storm doesn’t take away my sympathy for the lives lost and the ones who are suffering right now. I don’t even truly know what the condition of my house is because I can’t go home yet. I mean, I could but the local government is asking us not to because of downed power lines, we have a “boil-water,” alert meaning the water is jacked up and God only knows what poopy bacteria got in there and the entire island pretty much doesn’t have power. So, I think I’ll stay where I’m at for the moment. Oh, I left my grandparents and I’m currently staying at my brothers house about twenty minutes away since they didn’t lose power. My grandparents were obviously invited but since they are old and stubborn, they declined. I don’t know what their problem is. Or, more accurately, problems are but man, it was a very interesting time being cooped up with them. They have a seriously messed up marriage. Very sad to see it.

The only time I really began to feel real concern was when I realized the street had began building up water. This made no sense because there was a retention pond that was well below the normal level and a storm grate next to the road for the water to drain into it. There shouldn’t have been a reason for this…Irma packed a huge punch in my area for wind but not as much for rain so I figured what the hell and went to go check it out. Being of sound mind and body, I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to just march about a hundred yards on down the street in sixty or so mph winds in a poncho in about five inches of water to see what was up. Driving there I guess didn’t occur to me. Adrenaline? I dunno. When I got there, the perfectly normal grate that my grandfather and I had checked prior to the storm was now completely clogged with leaves, twigs, trash, whatever and the water couldn’t drain so, I ran back to the house, grabbed a shovel, ran back to the grate and started shoveling crap out of the drain like a madman until it was cleared out. Wooohooo you’re welcome neighbors that will never know of my good deed because it was 2:00 in the morning and they were all smart enough to stay indoors!

Oh well. It was surprisingly fun. Seeing the water all of a sudden push what was left of the crud that was blocking it down the drain and the rush of water to follow was a very nice feeling. I stood there like a freakin soldier who just captured an entire platoon of his enemies and even though it kept clogging because so much debris had built up in the street, I stayed and kept unclogging it until things got back to normal. Today I can barely lift my arms up so I should probably work out a little bit more but at least I don’t have to go to the gym for like, a month or so now.

At about 3:30 am I went to bed as the storm at finally passed and even though the winds were still up there the worst was over. We were lucky, no downed branches in the yard, no damage to the house, nothing through all of it. When I woke up it was a bit of a different story

Apparently, according to my neighbor, at 5:12 am a tornado…she called it that and I disagree but didn’t want to argue, I’m pretty sure it was a microburst, tore into the neighborhood and crashed the party. Tree limbs were everywhere, some of the neighbors had entire trees that had been knocked over, powerlines were down and all of a sudden my good deed from the night before didn’t seem so great anymore. I fought a good fight but in the end mother nature still said screw you and won big time. I spent about five hours today chopping up limbs, hauling it all up to the front yard for the front loaders to pick up, hopefully sooner than later as Jose might decide to come this way and realized just how fruitless fighting something can be.

I fought a good fight and won a battle or two but still lost the war. At the same time, had I not cleared the drain we would’ve added a flooding into the mix of all the downed lines and trees so I tried to stay positive as I was drinking copious amounts of red bull and dreaming of being in my bedroom watching Night Court reruns instead of what I was doing at the time.

I’ll be honest with you. The stress of the past week, the amount of physical labor, the family situation with my grandparents that I just went through plus my dad….I really don’t know if I’m making any sense of this blog tonight and should probably write it on a different day as I try to have some sort of point to it and right now I really don’t. I’m just babbling. I’m tired but I’m happy that I was able to help. There’s no way my grandfather could’ve cleared out all of the branches that fell and I know he doesn’t have the money to pay to get it done even if he was a complete asshole to me the entire time I was there.

I want to be home, I want something familiar; as I’m writing this blog I am currently about to go to sleep in my 12 year old niece’s bunk bed and she’s sleeping in my brother and his wife’s room on a blow up mattress. (I offered to sleep on it but she thought it would be fun to sleep on one so, hell kid go for it.) Anyways, I’m done. Maybe I can stream Night Court online and pass out. Tomorrow will be a new day and hopefully power will be restored at home and life can continue as usual.

To those affected, we’re all in this together. It sucks but we can do this. Floridians aren’t known for their, uh, courtesy but at times like these we need to band together and help one another out. Let’s get it done.

C. Brooks

One thought on “The Day After Irma

  1. Alicia

    I’m glad you wrote this. For one thing, it tells me you and yours are safe, and I have been praying about that. Sometimes babbling helps us get stuff out. Does every entry have to have a specific point? I personally don’t think so. The descriptions are horrifying, but even so, I do appreciate the detail. You were able to put it in ways even I could picture both the terrible but awesome (in the powerful sense of the word, not the “how cool” sense) ferocity of the storm, even as it was terible and destructive. I’m always sad when trees and things are destroyed. sad for the people whose lives are turned upside down, for the animals who dont understand what’s going on. Way to go you for clearing the drains, even if Mother Nature ultimately won the war. You kept it from being worse than it already was, at least for your area. I’m sorry you were treated badly while at your grandparents…that makes me mad on your behalf. Hopefully staying at your brother’s goes better than that. Glad to know you’re safe. Still praying for you, for whatever it’s worth.


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