Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Home Once More

We are back home once more. It was an interesting trip. Interesting because as we got closer and closer to the center of the storm track the visible damage increased noticeably. Once we got onto secondary roads the going was kind of tricky since many of the traffic lights were still out or were at crazy angles so you could not see them. Fortunately in a "Who goes first?" situation, the Mothership is big enough that no one argues with you. Our neighborhood has a strange surreal appearance since none of the trees have very many leaves on them. Another thing we noticed is the smell of decaying vegetation everywhere. We did indeed feel like tiny little carbon life forms when looking at all of the forces of nature that were at work here. I will take some pictures to share with you. We lost a couple of more fence sections and one screen panel on our patio but that seems to be it. It feels good to be back on my home keyboard and Internet connection instead of jury rigging campground phone lines and cell phone connections.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Stormy NightOur choice of Naples for a storm refuge was a good one. Based on our calculations to be ninety degrees to the left of the track this location was the farthest and easiest to reach in the motorhome. We are at Rock Creek RV Resort. We picked a campsite free of trees. We are glad that we did as we were buffeted by gusty winds all night long and are still being hit by gusts as I type this. The wind does seem to be coming in gusts now instead of being a constant force. TV reports show gusts to 50 mph in the Naples area. Watching all of the TV reports we seem to be on the edge of the heaviest rain and winds which is what we had hoped for. The wind direction has shifted from the North yesterday to West and Southwest today. Since the motorhome is parked in a North South orientation we are rocked slightly as the big gusts come through. Even with 40 to 50 mph gusts the movement of the motorhome is not alarming.

During the approach of the storm yesterday we watched the Weather Channel for forecast track reports. After landfall ocurred we switched to the local TV stations for more detailed coverage. We maintained email contact using Bob's Nokia 3650 cell phone when the winds were too high to go outside. We also have access to a modem line in the campground office where we can use the laptop to access email and weather reports. The modem line is also needed to transmit this long entry to the Blog. The problem with the cell phone is having to type using the keys on the phone. This dictates that those emails are short. It is really nice having email access with the cell phone though as we can send updates and status reports to our friends and family in the worst of conditions.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Watching and waiting.We left yesterday in the Mothership to get out of the path of Hurricane Jeane. As we drove out of the local area we saw long lines backed up at local gas stations. Lines extended up to half a mile on one road. Barbara suggested that we go west and take the Florida Turnpike which turned out to be a good suggestion. We were headed to Naples, Florida where we are now encamped. I looked at the forecast path for the storm and took a ninety degree angle to the left of the track and the farthest point we could get was Naples. This location puts us 150 miles from the path. We hope this will get us out of the destructive part of the storm. Our house is strong with metal shutters on all windows but the Mothership would not take hundred mile an hour winds. In addition, we are trying to avoide the long power outages and lack of gasoline and food that follow these events.

We are tired of running from storms and tired of being constantly on the run. This year has been very stressful for all Floridians. We count ourselves among the lucky since we are retired and have the mobility to get out of harms way. We have not endured the trauma and stress of our friends and family who must remain the storms path. We worry about them constantly. We are constantly in touch with our cell phones but there is little we can do to help them except bring needed items when we return.

The biggest worry with Hurricane Jeane is the debris that still remains from Hurricane Frances. Streets in West Palm Beach are lined with piles of tree branches and other debris. An astonishing amount of work has been accomplished in collecting this debris but the amount to pick up is so huge that a lot remains. The worry is that all of this will become flying missiles that will do more damage. I put as much of it in my garage before we left so I have a garage full of vegetation that smells bad. My friend and neighbor will go over and take it out after the storm passes.

A drive by one of the local debris collection locations, John Prince Park, provides some perspective on the amount of tree damage inflicted by Frances. There are lines of trucks bringing tree debris to this location where it is being chipped and ground up. There are literally hills of wood chips in the park where there used to be green grass areas where people played. The park, one of the largest local parks, is closed to the public since it is a central debris collection point.

We now wait and watch as Jeane moves through the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. We may get some wind and rain from it here in Naples beginning this afternoon and tonight.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Hurricane Jeane

Hard to believe but a FOURTH hurricane is threatening Florida. Jeane has been circling around in the Atlantic as if waiting for clearance from some higher authority to launch another attack on our state. Each forecast from the National Hurricane Center moves the northward turn a little farther west. There is a turn to the north in the forecast but when that occurs is the question. If it follows the latest forecast track it will slowly turn and follow the coastline north towards the Carolinas. Debris from Frances still lines our streets and the piles at the central collection points are huge. Yesterday, we watched the Lake Worth Drainage District remove trees from a nearby canal. They are in a huge pile beside one of the roads we travel each day. I spent some time this morning doing some tree trimming on the orchid tree nearest the house. The general consensus of people after the storm is you are fine as long as you live in a concrete block house with a concrete tile roof and no trees near the house. Oh, and of course, strong hurricane shutters on all windows and doors.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


We are back home. Driving down the first thing we noticed that was odd was the way the signs were all bent and broken off and sitting at odd angles. Some pretty hefty highway signs on I-95 were broken off and they were mounted on large metal beams. Billboards were just skeletons since the signage had long departed for areas unknown. We have power and our fence has been blown down. My neighbor and good friend stacked it neatly by the house. My garage door looked like a first grade art project with leaves flattened all over it in a strangely attractive pattern. I erased the art work with my hose. We removed the shutters from two doors and one window to let some light in. There are huge piles of dead vegetation and debris still waiting for pickup on all of the streets.

Friday, September 03, 2004


Yesterday morning, Thursday, we both awoke at 3 am. After checking the latest forecasts and watching the weather channel we made the decision to evacuate. The Mothership was loaded and ready to go so at 4 am we departed the Mothership Base. Driving through Brevard County we listened to talk radio shows and heard people calling in reporting traffic conditions on I-95. At that point things were not too bad and traffic was moving right along. As we approached Daytona the picture changed drasticly and we encountered bumper to bumper traffic. It must have taken us two or three hours to get from Daytona past Jacksonville. Once we were out of Florida things opened up pretty nicely. After eleven hours of driving we are parked in my mom and dad's yard but are still watching the storm.

We now have our friends and family who stayed in Florida in our thoughts and prayers. Our son, daughter-in-law and granddaugher are still in West Palm Beach. Mavis will be working around the clock in the hospital where she is a nurse and Rob and Kailtyn will be in a concrete office building owned by a friend. It is a very secure building. We feel that they are safe. Our friends in our neighborhood, like us, have done all they could do to prepare their houses by putting up storm shutters and moving everything outside into the garage or the house.

My friend Rick went to Home Depot last night and said it was crazy there. He said that there were at least one hundred people in line for any kind of wood to cover their windows and doors.

We have done all we can do at this point and can only hope the storm will weaken so that the damage will be lessened. The latest report says the storm has slowed down to 9 knots and even though it has weakened slightly is likely to restrengthen. The slow speed and possible strengthening is not good. That means the hurricane force winds will last much longer wherever the storm passes.

We are still watching Frances since it could still effect us here in SC as it travels inland. We are prepared to move the Mothership away from the tall trees here if we have to. We would move it to the local Wal-Mart parking lot and lock it up if the weather turns bad here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Day 2 Frances Prep

Some good news at the 5pm update from the hurricane center. The track has shifted a bit to the north. I am really tired after two days of moving stuff and putting up shutters some of which don't fit very well. There must be some basic law of the universe that says the last component of any system you are installing will give the most problems. The one door I left until last was the hardest one of all to put shutters on. I also went to the grocery store and stocked up on some food items. The motorhome is ready to go if we have to escape. Since the 5pm report was slightly encouraging I am going to hold off until possibly early morning if we leave. That way I can view the 11pm advisory. Maybe the track will shift a bit more to the north. That would take some of the worst part of the storm a tiny bit further away from us but my mom and dad live in South Carolina and that might be the next target. We had considered going there to escape the storm but it does not seem to be a good idea at this time. This time of the year down here is pretty intense and we are constantly watching the weather. A good sign is that people are taking the threats very seriously now. I can remember when they just brushed them off as not a serious threat. I think hurricanes Charley, Andrew, and Hugo within living memory has made an impression on the public.

Watching Frances

I have spent the last day and a half putting up metal hurricane shutters over our windows and bringing loose objects inside the garage. Our garage door has beams that are put in place to reinforce it against the wind. I have done all I can do to get the house ready. We are now watching the forecasts by the hurricane center at each update, 8am, 11am, 5pm, and 11pm local time. The latest advisory has the storm going inland somewhere north of us. Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center for 60 miles and the tropical storm force winds out 200 miles. The subtropical ridge that is holding the storm to the south may weaken a bit in the next 24 hours. We are going to get our camper loaded up and be ready to move it if the storm looks like it is going to head our way. We would go all the way up to South Carolina or further to avoid the storm. If the subtropical ridge weakens a tiny bit and allows the storm to go further northward we will stay put and ride out the tropical storm force winds here at home.