Surviving Charley

Surviving Charley

God knew I needed a distraction this weekend, so He sent a hurricane.

Hurrican Charley: Orlando’s first direct hit since Donna 44 years ago. It hit Florida’s southwest coast in Port Charlotte around 2 pm (I think) as a category 4 hurricane, and then was reduced to a category 2 by the time it reached Orlando.

This is my second hurricane experience. My first one was Hurricane Hugo, which hit our town of Waxhaw, North Carolina when I was 6. I don’t remember Hugo all that well, except that since my dad was a fireman and he had a motorcycle, he was gone a lot. I also remember going around our neighborhood with my friends cleaning branches and leaves off the road.

Last Thursday we didn’t think Charley was going to hit Orlando. I was a bit distracted and so I didn’t pay much attention. Friday morning, we found out Charley had turned and would be hitting Orlando directly. Ohh! My sister didn’t have school, and my dad and brother and I all got off work at noon. My mom was in Dallas, hoping to be able to fly in on Friday (didn’t happen). My siblings and I worked hard cleaning up the yard. Everything not nailed down either went into the garage or the spa. (See, our broken spa did come to some use!) We filled up bottles of water, and my dad ran to the store to get some food. We turned the TV to the news channels and followed the reports as Charley crept closer.

I went outside shortly before it started storming to take “before” pictures of our house. It was eerily quiet and still… No wind, no animals. Around 8:40 my sister and I went into her room (since it’s at the front of the house) and watched the wind pick up. Charley hit pretty close to 9 pm. The sky was an orangeish purplish glow, frequently lighting up neon green (lightning, my dad told us). The wind was incredibly strong… We could see the trees bent, flapping wildly. At one point we went onto our back porch which I must admit was the coolest part, because the wind was soo strong and ripping through everything. Our power went out around 9 or 10 pm, which we expected.

It was all over by 11 pm. We lit candles around the house and used flashlights, mostly staying in our living room until each of us went to bed. The next morning I awoke early (7:15), and AJ and I walked around our yard and the neighborhood. AJ took lots of pictures, so I promise to post them as soon as I have a chance to sort through them and find the most interesting. We weren’t hit bad in our yard; we did lose a big tree in the backyard, falling on my mom’s vegetable garden. We lost several of the screen panels on our porch, as well as about four big limbs from the tree in our front yard. Also, one of the screen doors for our porch was blown the opposite way it’s supposed to open, twisting all the hinges. I think that was it… We were sad a tree didn’t come crashing into our van, since our van is on its way out the door anyway. :-)

Trees were down all over the neighborhood, but it didn’t look like there was too much structural damage. We lost cell service and were still without electricity, so I was using the phone card to call my grandparents in Atlanta and my mom in Dallas. The morning was spent cleaning up the front yard; chopping wood, picking up branches, etc. After lunch, it started raining so we basically spent the rest of the day on the back porch. Without electricity, there was no air conditioning or fans, and the rain made it incredibly humid. The porch felt nice, and the rain was light enough (except for a brief period around 3 pm) that it didn’t get us wet on the porch. We mostly read… and for dinner cooked fish and baked potatoes on the grill. Our cleanup efforts would have to wait until the next day.

My mom was able to get onto a flight to Ft. Lauderdale and rented a car and drove to Orlando. Our power came back on (hooray! they had told us it could be 4-5 days) shortly before she arrived, and we were all happy campers. Our church, however, still doesn’t have power. So this morning we went and sat in a dark sanctuary without AC or microphones, singing songs out of hymnbooks to a lone piano and guitar. The message was short, with a time of prayer. It was nice… Made me think about what church was really all about, anyways…

That brings me up to about now, when, after lunch, I decided to post a blog. I promise, pictures coming soon. For the rest of the day (or rather, when it stops raining): cleanup yard time. And try to find out if I have work tomorrow. It seems as if I finally have cell service again – yay! So I can call people. Or receive phone calls from people. :-)

That’s it from my end… hope ya’ll’s weekends were just as interesting as mine. :-)

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