As I have discovered in talking to people, apparently those outside Florida didn’t realize Charley hit us. My favorite response by an anonymous friend I was IMing:
Me: we’ve been busy cleaning up our yard
Friend: cleaning your yard? what?
Friend (after a pause): charley! did you feel the effects of the storm?
Me: the storm? did i feel it? yeah, of course!
Friend: was it bad? did you get rain and thunder too?
Me: it hit orlando directly as a category 2 hurricane!
Friend: oh, i didn’t know
I don’t know if it’s peoples’ ignorance or if it’s the lack of news, but I’ll do my best to keep those who are concerned informed. One of the best articles I’ve read is from MSNBC’s website about the devastation (they also have some good pictures in their slide show). Saturday everyone was in shock and still trying to assess damage. Neighbors wandered the streets looking at those around them. People we didn’t know called out to us and asked how we were doing, and we did the same to others. We shared tools and helped when we could. This continued on through Sunday… people started venturing out more; the initial shock was wearing off. By Monday, many headed back to work (including myself). More and more people were getting their power back, including my own house, but so many others are still without. Lines of cars are filling the gas stations – overflowing into the street and causing traffic backups. Stoplights are out all over the city (they said around 500 traffic lights in Orlando are not working), and many don’t understand the concept of a four way stop. Policemen are stationed at the bigger intersections but it’s hard to see them, especially in the dark, and everyone is so confused as to what you’re supposed to be doing.
Patience is wearing thin. There are long lines for getting simple basic ingredients for living, which increases desperation. Bags of ice are among the most treasured possessions and already there have been hundreds of reports of price-gauging and scams. They’re having trouble with people taking looters into their own hands – people stakeout their property with the personal guns and shoot on sight, rather than simply threaten. The lack of air conditioning and fans in the 90-degree weather causes grumbling and complaining. Already there are 19 dead.
We were very fortunate to have as little damage as we do. We ended up losing half of the other tree in the backyard because it split, but if it had fallen it would have smashed our porch. Last night my mom and I were in Publix (grocery store) and all of their refridgerated and freezer products were gone – I’m guessing they had to be thrown out due to the lack of power. “Cash only” is the familiar phrase for almost any store you enter – credit card machines down. Electricians are working around the clock, as well as tree services and other types of services. We saw a bunch of electrical trucks today – all with Georgia license plates. Governor Bush has declared 25 counties in central and southwest Florida as disaster areas, and brought in many out of state people to help rebuild.
So that’s life right now. My sister doesn’t have school until next Tuesday (24th) – she’s been out since last Friday. Yesterday someone made the connection that Charley visited us on Friday the 13th… I’m not superstitious but it’s rather humorous. Of course, Orlando wasn’t hit as hard as some of the other places – Punta Gorda, Fort Myers – but still the devastation is awful.
As Charley was hitting us, my brother was enjoying posting his thoughts and pictures on a forum/blog he visits. Go here for some pictures… Read the stuff by Usacomp2k3 (there are more pictures on the second and third pages of the posts). Like I said, we were pretty lucky… luckier than many other people even in our area. I guess God was watching out for us. :-)