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Hurricane Irma
September 10, 2017



Irma was downgraded to a Category 1 as it went by Tampa, Florida.

My place did not lose power at all! I did lose my cable (which carries my cable TV, phone and Internet). The complex lost a bit of siding, three palms, 



a large sea grape (which took down the fence), 



lost one awning, lost our banana trees and all their unripe bananas (they will be back), 



avocado tree, and one papaya tree (the other is fine and has a lot of fruit on it). 




One unit lost its chimney and the garbage screen was totally destroyed.

All in all not so bad.

Thursday and Friday before the storm:

I put up plywood to cover my windows, moved all the porch furniture from units 10, 11 (mine), 12, and 13 into the living rooms. My niece Stephanie came over from California and helped me move my motorcycle and #10's car over to the upper levels of the hospital parking garage. Steph helped me move and tie up the boat. 
I got two generators ready (loaned by #9 and #10) in case the power went out. Got food and water ready. Filled the two tubs with water. The tubs were full and I was working on the computer when the alarm went off. I pulled the electric wire off the alarm to stop it...when it stopped I heard a cascade of water downstairs. The water from my large tub was emptying onto the ceiling above my dining table, and running out the alarm in the ceiling there. The tub is a Jacuzzi, some joint in all the plumbing had let go I guess. 



Last month my AC froze up and when it was turned off, the condensate drained down and messed up the ceiling on the third floor, now I have stains on my second floor, darn Irma! 

Saturday before the storm

A school (Boca Ciega High School) three miles from my home opened its doors as a shelter. 300 people showed up. I went over to be a volunteer. The principal asked me to stay and be their eyes and ears until the storm passed. He wanted me to wander down all the halls and make sure people were OK. 

The school did just that - "open" their doors. They did not open the school rooms, just allowed people to sleep on the hall tile floors. They had no cots, nothing to offer for bedding. They did open the cafeteria though for a dinner meal, delicious spaghetti with meat sauce.

Seeing so many people lying on the concrete floor with nothing for padding, I went back home and got three more air mattresses, a waffle pad and a boat cushion. I checked on kitty, she was fine, then went and retied the boat and got the cushion. I handed the items out back at the shelter but it was no where near enough. A family of 8 from England's airplane flight was canceled and their hotel was evacuated. They had their luggage but no bedding.  Three people who spoke no English had nothing, I gave them an air mattress, they took turns sleeping on it. Three kids and their parents had two beach chairs, the kids were able to sleep on my big waffle pad. An older gentleman slept on my boat cushion. And on and on.

Saturday night a ten year old went screaming down the halls, laughing, screaming, until 12:45. The assistant principal finally came out and asked the mother and son to leave. The hurricane was not due for 24 hours and they only lived two blocks away. Unfortunately they could not lower the lights so it was hard to sleep.

Sunday
Breakfast at the shelter was a tiny croissant with a bit of egg. The school decided to open the school rooms. Now there were 720 people there. The lights could be dimmed in the rooms but not turned out. The halls thinned out as we moved into the school rooms, but there were still many in the halls. I continued to circulate and offer help. Most were glad to just be safe. I went home to check on kitty, it was windy and raining, but all was OK so far. 

Lunch was a cheese sandwich. People were playing cards, watching the giant TV's, and just milling about, waiting, watching the rain and wind outside.

Dinner was spaghetti and meat sauce again. 

In the room I had moved into was a couple with a newborn, some friends of mine, and several older guys. 


My air mattress, the father from Belarus working on his computer. The school had free internet, but blocked Facebook!

The couple from Belarus, their 2 week old baby and their 5 year old were there. 

The 5 year old (I will call Ivan, who only spoke Russian) pulled out a chess set. I told his father that I would like to play chess with the 5 year old Ivan. So, we started playing - Ivan brought out his rook and I took it, thinking that I was doing well. Then Ivan brought out his knight and killed me!!! He forked my king and queen! I was vanquished!! By a 5 year old!!!!

In the evening someone who had obviously smuggled in some alcohol was taken out in handcuffs, but the rest of us practically slept through the hurricane! The power went out a few times and the generator kicked in, but the power came right back. Hardly an eventful night. About 4 AM when the winds subsided people started leaving. I continued to help people out packing their stuff up. I packed my self up and, after breakfast, used my cart to help my friends take their stuff to their car. It was over.

Back at home Bob helped me move the car and motorcycle back from the parking garage. I started cleaning up the place, leaves everywhere. I took apart parts of the downed fence and stacked up the boards. Lots of work. I then moved my boat back to my slip and reinstalled the lines.

Monday after the storm.
Marilyn put up on Facebook that a huge tree had fallen in their front yard. I called them and Marilyn's mother answered. She said four large trees were down. I asked if they could use some help. I drove up and helped move a huge amount of branches until we could see the front door!




Tuesday
I went to Gulfport to do my volunteer work, but they were closed. I went to Home Depot to get permanent fasteners so I would be able to put up my plywood easier. They did not have what I needed. I did not have Internet at home so I used theirs. No one had them!!  I started taking down the plywood from my windows. I got the plywood into the garage, but not up overhead yet. Too hot and too much for my sore muscles! More clean up. 
A friend who lives in Dunedin came over, she had no power. I went out and got more food for two people. About ten minutes after she got here she got a text message. Power was back on at her home.


Wednesday
Darrell called, they did not have power and the horses were out of water. He had a generator but no way to connect it to the well pump. I scouted around going to several places in St. Petersburg, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach but everyone was out. Darrell's step daughter found one in Colorado and is shipping it to him. Home Depot had gotten in 105 generators the day before but sold them out in 1 hour. Same with the 150 gas cans. I checked on Terri and Craig's rental for them and fixed a phone line that was down.
My skin cancer check-up was canceled, the doctor did not have power.
I moved all the sandbags people had brought in down to the kayak ramp.



Thursday

More clean up.

Friday 

Tired of no cable (all my neighbors had service) I decided to try running the parallel wire to my underground wire. I was very glad it worked, I am back on line. My dentist canceled my appointment, he did not have power.

Darrell finally got his power back.
150,000 people still without power.

Saturday

Gulfport had a food drive to help those still without power. I took some food down and helped pass it out.

Sunday

Back to normal. 

UPDATE:
Jim and Diane from next door were so happy that I took care of their place during Irma that they bought me a tee shirt.

Then they took me out to a steak house for a lobster dinner!


Then they gave me a 55" TV that they had damaged and replaced!


Now I have a 55" TV in the living room, a 55" TV in the bedroom, and a 42" TV in the guest bedroom!
Thanks Jim and Diane!!

Update #2
Spectrum has yet to contact me about getting my cable fixed!
Here it is two weeks later and I would still be without cable
 if I had not fixed the underground cable myself!

 

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