Hurricane Irma


Well, sometimes life just throws you a curve ball and in this case, in the form of a hurricane track. The past week has been harrowing to say the least.

When we realized a hurricane was coming our way, we did what all Floridians do in such cases, we went out and bought lots of canned food and water. We live inland, so felt pretty safe, but prepared just in case.

Irma just kept getting stronger and stronger, some monster storm that threatened to swallow our state like some great demon. When the track moved to the east coast, a loud sigh of relief could be heard across the western half of Florida. For several days, we felt concern for those in its path with that vague feeling of superiority because WE were not going to be badly affected.

Plywood shutters for the windows were made and put aside, just in case. We ordered a generator….because power might go off. We helped my mom box up her precious photos to bring to our house as her roof was not in good shape.

Then….everything changed. The hurricane was headed up the west coast….winds would be higher but still off shore, then it crept eastward again, right over our house. Now things were serious.

Plywood on every window, blocking our lovely sunny days and creating eternal night. Every item that could be a missile in high winds moved out of our yard and porch and into the garage. It was too late to trim our trees and cut down the dead one in the backyard, nothing to do about that.

I became locked to Weather Underground’s hurricane blog, watching the path, the strength, staying up every night to watch the models run and read the analysis of the data. I have my graduate degree in geology and my research actually involved hurricane erosion and over-wash, so I had at least some idea of what all those graphs and models were showing me and it was not pretty.

A storm of epic proportions headed toward us. It threatened the entire state with category 5 winds, flooding on the coasts, and a lot of rain.  I spent each day fighting down the panic. Could our house survive this? Would a tree fall on our roof? What about my car?  And most of all, what about my family? Would we be able to keep them safe?

We thought about leaving…and looked online for hotels. Since the east coast, now relatively safe, was evacuated, everyone came inland, millions of people. Hotels were full up through Tennessee. Gas was in short supply and many cars had been abandoned along the highways when they ran out of gas. A 4 hour trip was now 12 hours.

So…we decided to “hunker down”, that great term that simply means, shelter in place. Now the sailboat was brought into our porch, the hot tub filled with water to use for washing. We filled everything we had with water.

My elderly mom and her elderly dog plus her 2 cats were moved into our house along with my son’s friend, who was alone in the next town. 7 of us, 6 cats total and 2 dogs. Nerves were frazzled, personalities conflicted, elderly dog peed all over my floor. 😦 Very stressful….

Tropical force winds hit us and we could hear the whistling and howling through the plywood windows. I think the wood dampened the sounds to some degree, but as the winds because stronger, the fact that we could not see what caused the big thump on the roof was disturbing. I felt trapped in this big box with no way to see what was on the other side. It was like some movie where the zombies are outside battering on your house to get in and you could only hide and wait for them to leave.

Rather than continue up the coast as expected, Irma took a turn inland and headed toward Orlando. We thought maybe the worst was over. But she took another turn. By this time, we had lost power. We started up the crank radio and listened to a local report of the hurricane. The announcer told us the worst part was to come, 100 mph gusts, go to your safe room! Now, Florida does not have a lot of houses with interior rooms, so our safe room was the laundry room, a narrow hallway.  We gathered all the cats, put them carriers, put chairs in the laundry room and waited to see if the wind picked up.

Turns out, we were in the very center of the path, and this meant that after some over 90 mph winds for a very short time, we were in the center of the eye. We went outside to see the perfect calm. It was eerie. The eye wall to the south was gone, weakened by the movement over land. My friends to the east were battered by the very nasty eastern eye wall, but the storm was over for us.

So at 2 am we went to bed and had the best night’s sleep we had had in many days. We slept late as the plywood made the house very dark. We woke and ventured outside to see our neighbors picking up debris. The sun was trying to shine, limbs and green leaves were scattered everywhere, on the roof, in the grass, and on our cars. A couple of large limbs had fallen but no damage. The dead tree did not fall.

We survived the eye. A category 5 hurricane that tore apart the Caribbean islands, killing people, destroying houses, and leaving devastation behind. Cuba was probably the island that saved us when a landfall occurred and Irma brushed over the northern side, weakening somewhat. The Florida Keys, a delightful place to visit, full of quirky personalities and great bars was very badly damaged. I am sad. Sad for all those who suffered. Flooding was horrible along the coasts. Only Tampa and the northwest seem to have been spared.

I feel very fortunate. One turn either way, across a state that is no more than 150 miles wide, could have made all the difference. It reminds me that even when we are lucky, we really do not know when that line will come our way.

As for the game, our trailer will not be done before Unite. Unfortunately, the week of prep happened as we were getting ready to capture the video and we are just too emotionally and physically exhausted to believe we will get it done in time to get it to the composer for music. So, since we want to do it well, we will continue to work on it and have it after the conference. I think it will even be better. 🙂  Plus, we will come back from Austin with great new ideas, new contacts, and feeling much less exhausted, I am sure.

In the meantime, we will try to get out some gifs, mini-videos, screenshots and concept art that we had ready for the trailer.

Thanks for sticking with us!

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