Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In the Days of Hurricane Matthew

So as most of the world undoubtedly knows, Hurricane Matthew hit the Southeastern coast of the North America and much of the Caribbean. Haiti is in the worst shape of everybody, but there is no avoiding that A LOT of people were affected. I was one of them. I live in what I commonly refer to as Sunny Savannah, GA. Truth be told, we have pretty decent weather almost year round and aside from the occasional thunderous rain storm that leads to flooding and, you guessed it, HURRICANES, we've got it pretty good.

So the saga of Matthew begins for me on Thursday the 6th day of the 10th month, after I arrived at work. He had been heralded as arriving in our area by Friday night with the chance that we would just get outer bands and thus the damage and disruption would be minimal, so I was fully prepared to sit this one out. The likelihood of losing power was always there, but let it not be said that Savannahians don't know how to weather some bad weather. However, grand poopaa CEMA had other plans. The evacuation of the islands and the low-lying areas, places notoriously hard hit even if inland things are pretty good, started out voluntary, then moved to mandatory, then they moved the line to take in the other islands further in. However, they had not called for an evacuation of Savannah proper by Thursday morning, so I wasn't really worried about it. I got to work, saddled up, and rode out. As I am out on my route, Shan, a co-worker, stops me and says, "Evacuation east of I-95 is now mandatory. We've got to hurry up so we can finish up, go home, and leave." The I-95 corridor is a pretty big marker for us. It's about approximately 10 miles west of Savannah running north and south. At this point, I call my future mother in law (FMIL) who lives west of I-95 and ask if I can stay with her and FIL. She tells me that there are a few people coming to weather the storm, but of course Fiance would love it if I came and stayed with them. Plan set. I just needed to get home, pack a bag, and boogey on up the road. I did exactly that, stopping to have a conversation with my mom about her plans. She and older brother were trooping down to H-ville to stay with my Aunt and her family and the grandparents. Younger bro said he was going to ride out the storm at home in Sav. I did not like this idea, but he's grown, can't make him do anything he don't wanna do. Packed up, headed out. Got to the Inlaws about 4 o'clock. Fiance went to work, so he was gone overnight. Went out for Mexican, since the likelihood of being trapped at home with no power was imminent, enjoyed ourselves. I relearned how to shell peas cause MIL had a big ol' crate of peas she'd been given by a grateful farmer. That was calming. Learned how to use Netflix. (I do not have Netflix at home, so it's always like alien technology to me when I'm confronted with it.) And the first night passed uneventful. End Day One.

Friday the 7th day of the 10th month. Woke up because Fiance has returned from work and while he has tried to be quiet, my brain is already primed to be up and moving because this would normally be a work day for me. We talk. He falls asleep. I crawl out of the bed and investigate whether there is coffee. Largely uneventful day as final preparations are made for the storm. Most of it had been done the day before, but just tying off loose ends and double checking the work while there was still some semblance of daylight. As the day got grayer, we migrated indoors and kept ourselves busy. Though there was one small expedition to go outside after it started raining. FIL wore a rain suit he had not worn before. This would prove to be an important decision. Whatever was in it caused him to develop a rash, which after a home remedy involving vinegar didn't work, he took some benadryl. Then for some reason we decided to watch disaster movies to pass the time. The power started flickering on and off in prelude of failing as we watched John Cusack in 2012 which several of the family had not seen. I had never seen all of it so I was content to watch it. Then the power went out and that was the unofficial notice that we all might wish to go to bed. End Day Two.

Saturday the 8th day of the 10th month. Matthew mostly battered us over the night with high winds and lots of rain. Several of the house occupants found this exciting. I slept through it. When I woke up, it was past time for the fiance to be home, however he was not there. So I rolled over and called him. He had decided, with some prompting, to remain at his job site until the weather died down unknowing that the weather in the area was not slated to die down much if at all for most of the day. I convinced him to come home where at least he would have company. Then I go into the kitchen, investigating for coffee, and come upon a communal scene. Several people are sitting in front of the back door sipping from their coffee cups and FIL looks like a combat veteran with a head wound. At first I wonder if I should ask how this happened, then I do. Apparently, we're blaming the benadryl, FIL took a nasty fall which included hitting his head on the rounded corner of the kitchen counter and cutting a not insignificant gash into his forehead. As per medical protocol, he stayed up a few hours to make sure he didn't have a concussion and wasn't going to slip into shock both of which would have been problems since FIL is not a small man and services were undoubtedly experiencing many of the same outages happening in the residential areas, so taking him to a doctor might have been an ordeal. After I had been up a few minutes, he retired back to his bed. Minutes later, in walks the fiance who looks as though he tried, and failed, to carry the entire weight of the world. Cue my relief. Give him a sit-rep and get him comfy, we talk, he goes to sleep, I get up again. By now, breakfast is on (gas stove, all you need is a source of fire and it will light) and decisions are being made about what to do today since it is definitely not time to start cleaning up yet. The rain is still coming in spurts and we've got 40+ m/hr wind gusts blowing through. I send texts to check on my family as I've been doing just to stay up to date on whether things are okay. No one is dead. Happy day. I can rest pretty easy. Day hums along. FIL gets back up and hooks up the generator which will keep the two fridges running and provide power for some lights and phone chargers. This is great news. No worries about food spoilage here. MIL makes more food. Once it stops raining, folks feel safe enough to take short trips out to look around. I don't go. I have no desire to see things we can do nothing about. I tried to write. I got about three workable paragraphs that don't go to anything I'm currently working on, but they have a range of interesting things going on, a couple different directions they could turn. I may explore it later. I also did not read though I had plenty of time to. Wasted opportunities maybe, but I'm not really worried about it. Thus ends Day Three.

Sunday the 9th day of the 10th month. I wake up expecting to go to church and realize that I am neither at home nor is our church open because of the storm. I lie there contemplating this. Fiance crawls into bed and we cuddle. He is very pleased his week is over and this is the official start of his weekend. I am pleased because that means I will see more of him. I am still learning to be okay with this idea of him being gone all night while I sleep and coming home in time for me to get up and go about my own day. At current this is forecast to be our reality once we get married in January, but I can't say that I like it so far. I felt a little rundown since my chest and head hurt, bad lungs plus candles burning in a room with no ventilation equals absolutely terrible plan. Nothing serious but it made me not want to be super social cause I was tired and short tempered. However, I did get up and pitch in to help get things from the store, cook, and clean because it needed doing. Everyone in the house pitched in somehow to get things going. I think everybody washed dishes at least once to make sure they didn't pile up. We needed the generator for more important things than the dishwasher. Other family members are dropping in to check on people since cell service is spotty with potential towers down. Things get quiet. I went back to bed for a while to build up more energy and get up in time for the family to play Baseball, which is a card game the Fiance introduced me to some months back. I opted to watch a while and then went to bed for the night. The return for residents opened at 5pm and ran through curfew at 10pm, I opted not to go home just yet. Out of Day Four.

Monday the 10th day of the 10th month. Happy Birthday to my wonderful niece, Patricia, who turned 11. I had no way to reach her, but I'm sure the family will do something to make her feel special at a later date with all the mess that's gone on. I woke up knowing I needed to see a doctor but with widespread power outages, I was also aware this might not yet be possible. I spent a great deal of the day in the bed with periodic moments of socialization until Fiance decided we were going to dinner at his best friend's. Despite my physical unwellness, I opted to go because I hadn't seen them in a while and it would have made him feel like he couldn't go if I didn't. After a lovely dinner and conversation which involved books (my favorite kind), we headed back to the house. It's 9:30 at night, Fiance asks if I'm going home. I point out that according to the curfew, I could be arrested trying to go into the county this late. I opt to simply go to work from his house the next morning. It's basically a 30 minute commute from his parents' to my job. We head to bed. End Day Five.

Tuesday the 11th day of the 10th month. Up early to make the commute in to work. Got to work after a quick stop for gas and breakfast. After a two minute conversation with my boss in which she listens to how raspy I sound, she sends me home. After eating what's left of my breakfast and checking in at home, I seek out info on my local UrgentCare center. They have power, so I head there to get checked out. In and out in under an hour with scripts for an antibiotic and steroid treatment, which I pretty much knew was going to happen. The local CVS is two doors further down, they also have power. I hung out in the store while they fill my scripts. In both places, there is a little unhappiness about how much medication was lost thanks to the power outages, but since nothing can be done about it, the complaining was mild. On the way home, I stopped at Whole Foods Market, which is the only grocery in my area open. Strange to see the boarded up windows, but since most of the storefront is glass, you can't be too prepared. I pick up some fancy water (regular water is still out) and a snack before heading back home to lie down. We have no power, so conserved the battery on my phone by turning it off, also helped me get better rest. After I wake up and turn my phone back on, I check on those whom I haven't seen on Facebook posting about the conditions of their properties. Several families were not as lucky as mine. We sustained no major damage and no death. I know families who got one, the other, or both. There was the usual round of complaining about power outages and city workers, which I largely had to tune out because truthfully it's just people letting off steam. I wish they would keep it to themselves because for someone who has been busting their ass to come home to kvetching on Facebook damages the spirit. Our power came back on about 8pm. I plugged up my phone, helped clean out fridges of anything that had gone rancid/icky, and made sure my computer hadn't been damaged. Then I went back to bed. End Day Six.

Today, Wednesday, the 12th day of the 10th month. My grandfather (father of my mother) turned 79 today. Happy Birthday to Grandpa Platts. So glad to see you have done it again, another circle around the sun. Got up. Went to work. Came home and made a spam, egg, and cheese sandwich and some coffee before sitting down to write this blog post. I have once again returned to Sunny Savannah, GA. The weather here is no longer trying to kill us and we are in the stages of cleaning up and going on with our lives, many of us aware of exactly how good God is despite whether or not we deserve it. Onward through Day Seven.

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