Life is a beach. Well, sort of...

We walked the beach this morning.  It is three weeks post Hurricane Matthew. Our beach, which is a year round tourist attraction, looks very much unlike its usual bright and sunny self. The wide expanse of clean sand, host to happy visitors and carefully driving vehicles, seems to have vanished with the snow birds. In its place, Mother Nature has reclaimed something so wild and of-its-own-mind that post card views in comparative locations would be unrecognizable. Yet, it is beautiful in its own way, as the brutally untamed surf crashes up, reclaiming beach real estate not by inches, but by yards.

Before and after?

This is not forever. Soon the spring breakers will once again be greeted by colorful beach umbrellas and welcoming hotels that share their views of sun, sand, and waves for a price. For now, only the birds reign supreme as they harvest the freshly delivered morsels from the sea. Everything is cyclical. The birds, by some gravitational instinct, can still reduce what is necessary and what is beautiful to the most simple terms. 

Hurricane Matthew trims the trees!

Mother Nature has a way of resetting things.  On October 6 - 7, Hurricane Matthew came careening in this direction and, literally, turned things upside down - trees, yard items, some people's lives.  We were lucky here.  We lost power, water, internet, satellite service, refrigerated and frozen food, and had large pieces of trees come crashing to the ground.  Hurricane Matthew was forecast to be a category 4 storm and to make landfall, or near landfall, in close proximity to where we are located on the coast of Florida.  Fortunately, the eye stayed offshore and the winds "calmed" to category 3 status with gusts of approximately 90 mph here.  That was strong enough.

Not having a general fondness for large objects on the fly, we packed animals and headed west on the afternoon of October 6 to ride it out in lesser gusts.  The animals were not pleased (including 3 cats who aren't accustomed to travel) but were actually well behaved hotel guests, for the most part... All of this necessitated an additional vehicle for "stuff" which couldn't be left behind to fate (namely, in-progress work for my clients).  The rental company was probably quite pleased to have another car leaving the area, under the circumstances.

Of course, friends and family always worry.  So, in an effort to keep them on top of what was happening, I created a short newsletter of our day to day progress.  The progress reports began after our return to find what Matthew had left behind.  My family thought this was both informative and amusing, so I will share.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 2 in the third world country. Not so bad last night. It was cool with opened windows in bedroom & bathroom. Can't open in living room because Lexan stays on until hurricane season is over, but opened door to porch for air. Somehow the screens on the porch were not damaged so cats are happy and can get back to somewhat normal life. Attitudes are improving. 

Tried to listen to debate on radio last night. Yes, still have a working boom box from 25 years ago and batteries. The bickering from the debate put me to sleep shortly after it started. Good thing. Catching up on only a couple of hours of sleep each night for past several days. Estimate for electric keeps getting pushed back by the day. That's not a surprise. We were last to get it back after Hurricane Charley. As long as it isn't hot, that's doable. Won't know when internet is working until electric back and can get equipment hooked up again. Hoping the Dish TV still works. Satellite still on roof but direction may need to be adjusted. Looks good though. Fortunately, I have a 6 month protection plan active. Uncovering electronics today and working in yard. Have to find place to clean and fuel rental car for return tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I hope that you don't mind, but I've turned this into somewhat of a newsletter. Please share with those who aren't digitally connected. 

Still no electric and no sign of trucks. Of the 175,000 customers in this county, approximately 6800 remain without power. They haven't changed the estimate that power should be restored by the end of today, but I am doubtful. Really, it is not bad. It remains cool (77) and less humid (72%) than normal. It is breezy and sprinkles off and on. The sprinkles are nice while raking, but I do come in due to my friendly headphones and their electronics.  Couldn't possibly make it without music. 

It is nice having the boil water lifted. How exactly do you boil water when you have no power?  Build a campfire?  Probably not a good idea when so many of the trees that used to be in the air are now on the ground. However, I have learned all about the properties of disinfecting bad water with bleach for washing dishes, etc., and there is plenty of bottled water for drinking. The city was giving it away yesterday in two locations. I confess to visiting each of them, since they are both close and equal distance. 

Fortunately, I long ago discovered the joys of battery powered candles and have a houseful. Let there be light. Also, certain members of my family 😊 share my love of flashlights and I'm well stocked from Christmas gifts. 

I miss my 34+ mile per gallon rental car and its sporty attitude. It was fun to zoom zoom around in and it did have a rather large trunk.  If I win the lottery, I'll seek it out and give it a good home. 

Hopefully, tomorrow's report will include favorable electric service. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Good spirits on the decline. Just checked restoration status on electric. It looks like Friday now. Most by Thursday night, but some may have to wait until Friday. We are the "some".  Guy from power company drove by yesterday. He said we would probably be last. We are always last. Hopefully, it won't be the two weeks that it was last time. In the meantime, I'm enjoying watching the street behind us all lit up. 

Later that same day, the update continues.... Power may be back on Friday ("unfortunately, for a few of our customers"). That's okay. I'm pretty much losing track of what day it is. Getting a bit warmer, or I am just getting a bit hot under the collar. Too dark to go outside and work it off. Cats won't play the flashlight game ("stupid humans").  Thinking of paying AT&T more money for data so I can watch something entertaining. 

Even later that same evening...  WE HAVE ELECTRICITY!  A welcome return to hot showers, lights, and cooking.  Now to see if internet and satellite will work.  They don't.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Last newsletter... Electric back last night around 7. Internet connection nowhere in sight. Called about Internet this morning and got the same old non-answer "we are working on it". They can't even keep it working under normal circumstances, so who knows. Dropped that company for tv, wish I could do the same for Internet. Called Dish TV after that and they will be out Sunday to adjust the satellite. Amazingly, we have all of the local channels working crystal clear, despite the satellite dish having been shook and shimmied. I love Dish. Still cleaning yard and trying to restore order. Nice to have AC, do laundry, cook, take hot showers. 

Lots of parts of trees down. Still working on clean up. Lost some shingles, still have the roof though.

In summary... It is Wednesday, October 19.  FEMA was here yesterday and picked up the mounds of debris from yards.  They have been up and down streets with a huge truck pulling a double trailer.  Despite the dawn to dusk effort, there is barely a dent in the work that remains to be done.  Pulling out of driveways or around corners can be a challenge.  It is difficult to see over piles which can be up to 6' high and every bit as wide.  Progress is definitely being made though, and it is looking promising.  We have all the conveniences here again; internet, satellite television, and my favorite - AC!  Life is good and I've been back to work for several days.  Things seem more normal.  Animals are happy and some things just refuse to lose their berries (see schfflera below)!