Hi all. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers this past week. We were so lucky to only suffer power outage during Irma, although many in our neighborhood and city experienced much worse damage. Actually, as I was collecting a few photos to share here, I got a little teary-eyed. I have not always felt like Florida or Jacksonville is truly my home, but this past week has really emphasized how much this place has gotten under my skin and how it is my home. Michael expressed similar feelings — “I really feel like a Jacksonvillian now.” While I don’t recommend going through a hurricane as a way to deepen your roots, it is true that shared experiences build bonds, I guess!
Anyway. We lost power Sunday evening. Although we are technically in a Zone A, the chance for flooding in our home/neighborhood is fairly slim. You can see in the map above that our red zone is surrounded by white — on the flood map the white areas are in no danger of flooding at all, unlike in other neighborhoods, where flooding means the zones taper out from A to F. This largely figured into our decision to stay, combined with the fact that transporting six cats and two snakes is a hassle on the best of days. Nonetheless, we did at times doubt our decision as wind Sunday night was intense. We also had a lot of trees and fences down when Matthew came through last year, but the wind this time around was so much scarier than then. We didn’t sleep at all that night. Monday was blessedly cool, although we were still experiencing frequent high gusts so we didn’t really get much done beyond taking a walk through our neighborhood. I took a few photos.
This big tree was down a few houses up from ours. It’s a beautiful, huge old oak tree and it’s sad to see it down for many reasons. But everyone is very lucky that it fell into the street and not onto the house!
The creek that runs behind our neighborhood (and is the reason for our Zone) was really high. There is usually space for a grown person to stand under the bridge. I don’t believe anyone in our neighborhood had any flooding in their homes (probably some had water in their back yards), but the neighborhood on the other side of the creek is lower and consequently suffered more damage. They are also a more wooded neighborhood, so their tree fall was higher as well.
On Monday afternoon we drove out to find (hopefully) some coffee. We were excited to see that San Jose — the main route through our neighborhood and where many, many businesses are located — had power and in fact it seemed that many locations had not lost power at all. We settled for a fairly gross gas station cappuccino (no regular coffee) and then headed home. Thankfully the night was still pretty cool, although I think we were still a little keyed up. We slept better than the previous night, for sure!
Although we didn’t have power we were able to charge our phones using various battery back-ups that we own. We kept seeing really terrible flooding happening in downtown and other areas around Jacksonville. Historic levels of flooding, actually. It was really, really sad to see pictures of downtown and other neighborhoods were I have worked and/or lived underwater. We also felt so cut off –even though we had access to social media and a weather radio, we were limiting phone use and the radio stations were covering mostly local news related to the storm. It was hard to get an idea of what was really happening! Below are some pictures of the flooding in our city. You’ve probably seen a lot of these images because I think the flooding here was one of the bigger casualties of Irma.
San Marco/Southbank Riverwalk area
Mandarin (this is loosely the area of the city where I live)
On Tuesday we woke up early with one goal: coffee. Actually the power came on just long enough for me to brew a pot…and then sadly went out again. At this point we really wanted a hot meal. A camp stove or burner is on my list to purchase — I thought we would be ok with our grill, but it seemed like such a hassle to get it up and running for just a pot of coffee that we kept putting it off. Anyway, because there was power on San Jose, a number of businesses were open and we were able to get a delicious breakfast. We also stopped by a convenience store that was open and had ice. Although we had to throw out a lot of food from the fridge, I was super grateful for the ice that helped me salvage at least a few things. And chilled our drinks!
Good coffee is important to me. Making sure we have a way to prepare it is a priority for me, looking ahead to restocking our hurricane/emergency supplies.
Tuesday was also the day we helped clear up our neighbors’ yard — they are in their 80s and had a TON of debris and limbs down. One, in fact, punctured their roof, although luckily they didn’t experience any leaking below the attic. They had spent storm with their son. There were six of us working on the yard and it still took about three hours to clean up just the front yard and enough of the back deck to feel like they could walk outside without being in danger of falling. Right now there is about a five foot high wall of limbs and debris waiting for pick-up by the city. It runs the length of their lot.
Later that afternoon the neighbors we helped brought us a bouquet of flowers as a thank you!
By the time we finished it was early afternoon and we were hot and sweaty and tired. Thankfully we still had hot water so showers were the first order of business. Then we pretty much watched the temps climb in the house (it got up to 84, ugh) and kept tabs of people nearby who were getting the power back on, in hopes that it meant good news for us. We also were paying attention to the return trips of friends who had evacuated. For many, what should have been an 8 hour drive took 14 or 15 or more hours. I was so glad we hadn’t left!
No power limited what we could do — I broke out some handwork that I hadn’t worked on since my MIL was in hospice in 2009.
We went out to dinner and basked in the AC. The pizza place where we ate is owned by our neighbors and their son; we chatted with them and commiserated about the on-going lack of power. On our way home we stopped for more ice and passed a bucket truck working on a transformer near our street. We dared to hope….and yes! Power was restored late Tuesday night. We were SO SO SO GRATEFUL. We didn’t have internet connection Wednesday, but just having AC was such a blessing. Michael had already called to let work know he wouldn’t be in, so we spent Wednesday morning at helping out another friend (who had evacuated and returned to find a tree down in their yard) clean up after the storm. We pretty much just crashed in the afternoon–two days of working out in the heat, combined with not-great sleep really wore us out! In fact, I ended up with a migraine Wednesday night/Thursday morning, which was a bummer.
Yesterday everything was pretty much back to normal. My internship site follows the school’s schedule, so I’ve not been able to work there all week. Frankly that was a blessing. I did get some time in for my paid job yesterday and Michael has been back at work since yesterday, too. And even though I had to go through the fridge and freezer and throw out a bunch of stuff, I was really happy to be able to cook last night! We pulled the basil plant into the garage and I keep tomatoes on the counter so one of our favorite comfort foods was on the menu: pasta pomodoro.
Truly I can’t imagine what it is like to live through a much more catastrophic storm; it is taking us a while to feel like we are back on track and this was relatively minor compared to what could have happened.