Monday, September 27, 2004

What a night that was! The north side of the storm went right through where we were Saturday night. The power went out around 8PM. By midnight the winds started and didn't stop until the next afternoon. A the height of this category 3 storm it sounded like a freight train was going by right outside. The walls rattled and glasses clinked together on their shelves. The oddest part was a high pitched shrieking that went along with the wind; almost sounding like cheesy "ghost" sounds in a bad horror movie.

The next morning the generator was hooked up but we couldn't get out because the street was now a river. I wasn't able to leave until this morning. My trailer was undamaged although the leaking that already started kept on going and there is definite mold buildup. I am without power and phone. The services have been returning faster than last time so, hopefully, this won't be as bad as Frances.

I am posting at a friend's who has power. And will post again when I'm back up and running. I have new photos as well and will post them all.

I should be able to get to it this time.....looks like there is no new storm coming. Well, at least for now!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Here we go again!

I have once again packed all of my belongings into my van and vacated. We were under a mandatory ecavuation as of 8AM this morning but I was out of there last night at 7PM. Everyone is still trying to hold on to sanity as we wait to get battered again. If I hadn't blown so much money getting out of town the last time I would have either headed back to my sisters or a hotel to the south, but between that and having a smaller than usual incentive chek I had to economize.

Add to that I found some storm damage to my place from Frances. I was putting some photos back on the walls and as I was placing one above my couch I lost my balance and went to brace myself against the wall. Have you ever felt wet graham crackers? There is now a large dent in the wall where I landed. Also, I found part of my back door rotted out and falling. Luckily, I'm a renter and repair is someone else's headache. I may be elidgible for FEMA money to stay in a place temproariarly. The extra cash would be good as well.

I wresteled with the decision to pack the new recliner and upon suggestions from ym neighbor opted to just wrap it in plastic. With the way I wrapped that puppy it would take a nuclear blast to get through to the leather!

The respect I have for some of the management in my company has just taken a nosedive with this storm. They expected us to be at work today and kept the office open until 5PM last night. I understand the economics of big business but the human factor also has to be taken into consideration and these people missed the boat bigtime. I left at noon to get ready regardless and gave no thought what so ever to going in today. I know one of the upper honchos well enough I may talk to him about it at some point in the future. Or I could just include it in my stand up routine in November. That could be fun!

I will post again as the availability of electricity remains. I plan on making a pilgrimage to Tomas Edison's grave as a show of thanks. I can't imagine why anyone ever setteled in Florida in the first place. It's hell on earth even with paved roads.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

There might have been some grey areas before, but now I'm absolutely sure.


Last night I started to unpack some of my stuff from the storage bins they've been sitting in. Photos went back on the walls,collectables went on shelves and clothes got washed and put away. Then I woke up this morning and after doing a neat little loop in the middle of the Atlantic Jeanne started making a direct heading for my freakin' back yard!

I am waiting until the 11PM report tonight to decide exactly what I'm going to do. I am a little concerned about this trailer making it through another category two storm unscathed. There is one window in the living room which has been leaking lots since the storm and the landlord is going to take look at it tomorrow. As I was hanging a picture last night over the sofa I lost my balance. I went to brace myself against the wall when my hand sunk in through what felt like soggy graham crackers. He can be a little cranky at times, so this should be interesting.

Last night I went looking for the bar and grill where "The Young Lady" is supposed to be working. I had made numerous passes through the area over the past two weeks with no luck of finding it. I finally found the place and it's all boarded up with what looks like storm damage. Just my luck.

Monday, September 20, 2004

OK, I've had electricity back for a whole week and this is the first time I've gotten to update.

Little things like air conditioning, television and lights at night have kept me busy. God bless those lovely Canadian electrical workers. Last weekend was surreal at moments. I spent lots of time walking around the mall, WalMart and any other retail outlet that was open. Walking around the perfect surroundings of retail with the bright fluorescent glow and the soothing Muzak while less than a mile away there was darkness and sweltering humidity. I sat through three movies at the theater just to stay where it was cool an comfortable.

Everything is starting to get back to normal. Thanks to the overactive tropical season I have yet to unpack everything. My clothes remain in bags, storage bins fill the dining room and I still dine on MRE's. Time out of work and slowed production will make for lower than usual incentive checks for a few weeks so I have to make the money go as far as possible.

This past weekend both Johnny and Jimmy were here for "my weekend". Jimmy and I have been able to get along better in the past year or so and I welcome any opportunity to rebuild a relationship. This is especially important given that he is going through some rough teenage years. My ex and I have been having some very open conversations about him and the trouble they have been having. Jim and I talked Saturday night and I offered myself as a sort of a relief valve. I opened up to him and tried to mend some fences in our relationship. I apologized to him for some of my shortfalls as a father when we were together. It's still very early to know if our talk is going to help at all; either between the two of us or for his situation at home, but it is a start.

I still do have a load of photos from the storm and aftermath which I hope to post in the next few days.

Hey! You go through what I've been through and see how quick YOU get back in the swing of things!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Florida Power and Light, the electric company down here, is giving all residents a target date of September 19 for a return of service. We are all hoping they are playing the same game they do at Disney. You walk up to an attraction and they tell you it will be a 45 minuet wait to get on the ride and when it only takes 20 you feel like you’re ahead of the game and have been given a great gift.

There is a rush you feel as you ride down the street and pass a convoy of power company trucks on their way to work on something. It was a unique sight last night as a small bunch of us were huddled around a laptop last night to watch a DVD of “Hellboy”. A generator buzzed away behind a shed as we sat in pitch darkness shoulder to shoulder trying to get the best view possible of the small screen. I missed my surround sound and 27” set so much right then.

I’ve been doing lots of reading over the past few days. There were a couple of books I picked up at a library sale a few months ago that I’ve never had the time to read. If I had the extra money I’d buy a few more to keep me busy. Charles Grodin is a very funny guy with a much more varied career than I had ever heard of before. I’d suggest anything written by him. I’m also reading “The Dark Side of Camelot” which seems to have been written by someone turned down by the Weekly World News. It understandable that the Kenendy family usually dismisses any book not sanctioned by them and they do sometime even do that to legitimate authors, but this one is such a pile of dung. It’s a lot like listening to Howard Stern. I keep turning pages just to see what he’s going to say next!

One of the oddest thing through all of this is all of the Instant Meteorologists there are around here. Walking through the office you listen in on conversation after conversation by people talking about “millibars”, “cold fronts” and “stationary fronts” as if they were working here and moonlighting on the Weather Channel. Before the storm, you would look at each one of these people and wonder how they had enough brain capacity to tie their own shoes.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I've been able to get online from work, so I wanted to give a quick update from Ground Zero. I got back to my trailer to find it still standing and intact. The only damage was actually a help to me. I was hooked up with DirecTV last Tuesday and the storm was kind enough to knock my old antenna for broadcast TV down. Unfortunately, it dropped it on my neighbor’s trailer; no damage though.

I have running water but no electricity. Nighttime temps are in the upper 70’s with humidity that makes sleeping as comfortable as jogging inside a sauna. Actually, I think I pass out from exhaustion more than I actually sleep. I’ve borrowed a cooler from a friend with power, which I’ve filled with ice, bottled water and sodas. I’ve been eating the canned food I stocked up with before the storm and have sampled the fine cuisine which are MRE’s. Tasty and really cool they way they heat he food.

I’ve been in lines the past three days since returning to the area for water, ice and food. The National Guard, Red Cross and inmates from the county jails have been manning these stations. Everything moves quickly and efficiently. I’ve also been very impressed with most people’s patience through these times. Everyone approaches intersections without lights slowly, waits patiently and courteously waves others through. Long lines at the gas stations are generally no problems either. One of the county sheriffs was on the radio earlier saying there have been instances of people not being so nice and ending up arrested for all kinds of domestic squabbles but I have yet to see any of that.

Everyone in my trailer park made out OK. We were all pitching in clearing one another's debris and we all share in water and ice as needed. We also end up together in clusters after dark enjoying the cooler air outside our houses than the humidity inside.

I have a bunch of photos, which I’ll post when I have power back at home. Driving around some area is like going through a war zone. Trees snapped in half, electric poles downed and rivers of what I hope is only water. After dark things take on a whole new dimension. They have a curfew which starts at midnight now and to drive around through retail areas which are usually ablaze in neon and bright signs in eerie in complete blackness. To go over some of the taller bridges and look out to see only pockets of light scattered miles apart gives a strange feeling n the pit of your stomach.

Ivan appears, for the time being, to be headed for the gulf coast area. When the early repots had it coming right up the middle of the state I was ready to repack and head out of state. I will wait for further updates. Since my trailer survived the 100 MPH winds I wouldn’t want to tempt fate with even tropical storm winds.

That’s the latest from purgatory. I will post with more info when able. I’m not sure how long I’ll have the access through here. Everyone here says that this is the price we pay for living in paradise. That’s so much easier to say on those beautiful days in February when you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt when people up north are shoveling foot after foot of snow. Today, I’d argue that very strongly!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The anxiety is just about over. I just got a call from my landlord that my trailer survived the storm. I have been so nervous all day waiting to hear from him. There is still no power there, so this will be my last post for a few days. I will be leaving Naples sometime in the morning with a stop to see my son along the way.

I had all kinds of images running through my head as to what my place was going to look like. From a pile of timber and aluminum to a roofless, soaked leftover of a place. I will be taking lots of photos and post them once I can.

All my friends I have been able to reach have all been okay. Very anxious to get back over there and see everything.

I'm sure my sister will be glad to have her place back to herself. She has been very gracious and I don't know what I would have done without her. Yes, I had offers from other places around the state, not to mention those offers from back home in New England, but there's something a little more comforting about going through something like this with family.

That's good because if Ivan follows Frances I might be back here next weekend!!!!!

Have I mentioned lately FLORIDA SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

My sister and I went to the Naples beach which looks out on the gulf. As I looked out of the massively turning white water all I could think.....


I am holding out hope that my place, being on a small hill, is above where the highest water will surge from the Indian River. My place is also somewhat secluded. The other edge of that sword is that the storm might blow over all the trees surrounding me right onto the roof. My ride home is going to be the worst. Driving three hours not knowing exactly what I'll be going home to.

I feel a certain amount of guilt for leaving the area. Not being there to help others bother me a little. I know, I know. I'm safe and that's what's important. But I have been brought up with the strong sense of community service that it nags at me a little. Although, I'm sure there will be plenty to do even if I don't get back there until Wednesday!!!!!

For some good local reporting and some photos right from the area check out the Scripps papers.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The waiting is the hardest part.

Tom Petty was sooooo right. Frances has been taking her sweet freakin' time getting here. She is still aimed right at St. Lucie County. I sit here 180 miles away wondering if my trailer will still be standing when I get there. I keep hoping for the best as the storm weakens a little and has recently been downgraded to a category two hurricane.

The consolation is I get to spend the time with my sister although some of the differences in us get evident the more we talk together. She is a bit more conservative than I am so it makes for some interesting conversations. Also, being a couch potato, I am content to sit and watch TV for hours. I get the feeling there are other things she'd rather be doing. I am the good guest and keep remembering I am a guest here. We do have a good time together and are comfortable with each other.

As long as we have power I'll post when I can. Or, you may not see another post before next week sometime.

Into the breach!!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Have I mentioned lately I hate being in Florida?

At 5AM I woke up and immediately saw that the Weather Service had moved ground zero for the storm to my back yard. So, I finished packing the van and headed out by 7AM. And when I say packed, I mean PACKED. I only left behind the bare minimum of possessions. The hardest things for me to leave there were my father's old chair and me new recliner. I did have an offer from the guy I bought the recliner from to put it back in his storage room but time was of the essence in getting out of Dodge.

It's a very disconcerting feeling trying to imagine coming back to no house. When I saw the track of the storm headed right for my area images from Punta Gorda went through my head. I am writing from my sister's place in Naples, on the west coast. Being here with category 2 weather will be easier to go through than category 4 weather in Martin County. I could have stayed in the area and gone to a shelter but, knowing my luck, my van, filled with almost everything I own, would get obliterated by a falling tree.

I stopped to see Johnny on the way over here. If things go bad the Ex and the kids may even end up camping out here as well. Well, wouldn't that be unique! She is concerned about being evacuated and not having a hotel to go to. Luckily, Kathleen and she have remained friendly and our own relations have gotten better, so it wouldn't be a problem at all. Anything to keep the kids safe, more than anything.

The emotions of the moment got to me; just as I was leaving I turned around and hugged Jimmy before leaving. It's amazing to watch him hit puberty at full force. He was supposed to join Johnny on his weekend visit this time around. I'm hoping he and I can salvage what we once had. There was a long estrangement during the divorce. We have gotten much better, he did spend one weekend with Johnny and me but we have yet to spend lots of "quality" time together where we can really talk and get to know each other again.

Regrets, I have a few...........

Well, enough of that. I'll post again when I can. I took a photo of my poor overloaded van that I'll post here as soon as possible. I am safe and, unless this damned storm takes a nasty turn towards the south, I should remain that way.

Two friends from back north offered to have me come up to World Con in Boston this have no idea how tempted I was!!!!!!