Saturday, September 23, 2017

Preparation - Evacuation - Clean up - Normalcy

Hello Friends!  Yes, we are back in business, here on the West coast of Florida.  Whew!  I won't describe this past month as an adventure (though, in some respects, it was!!).  It was a moment in time that was filled with a low level of anxiety and wonder.  Having never been through a Hurricane, I knew that Irma was going to be a wild and crazy experience.

PREPARATION:    We tried to think of all the lists of things to do in a Hurricane.  We had packed up food, water, sleeping bags, clothing, etc.  I really didn't grab the photo albums.  There were too many, and I thought that if we lost the house, I would want to remember the details of my life in my head.
The waiting and anticipation was hardest.  Should we leave or should we stay.  should we head to our Son's home, or drive away from the storm (hard to figure that one out, since it covered most of Florida!).  So We prepared and waited:

Furniture removed from Patio
Window coverings put on (they are a mesh material)
Plants tucked away

Important papers, food, sleeping bags
at the ready...just in case we evacuate.
Now, the waiting begins.......
Sweet Hubby bought "high Water" boots
and I already had a pair, which we set
by the back door.
Just in case....

While we waited, I started a small watercolor of 'bleeding hearts'.


The days before the hurricane were beautiful.  The sun was shining; the garden was in it's glory; the house was clean and orderly; and all elements of the exterior had been prepped.  Irma kept changing her mind, and by Friday afternoon, Sweet Hubby checked in with the kids (who had to work and also had the flu, so they couldn't leave) but decided that we needed to get on the road.  He found a hotel with a cancellation, filled the car with gas, and estimated that with one small fill-up, we could make it to Pensacola.  What we did not count on was:  Cars on fire from overheating; Traffic at a dead stop for hours; no gasoline...any where!  We ended up sleeping in our car, in front of a family members house (it was 2:30 a.m., by the time we got there, and we were not going to wake them up).  We found gas at 6:00 a.m. and probably got the last gas available for fifty miles.  We called for hotel reservation in Valdosta,GA;  Pensacola, Fl;  Montgomery and Birmingham, AL.  We found a reservation in Birmingham and took off.  We drove the back roads, stopping in Montgomery, at the Southern Poverty Law Center's, Civil Rights Memorial Center.  It had been on my bucket list for years, and though we were exhausted, it was an amazing center, and an emotional visit.

A bucket list moment!

We landed in Birmingham, to a crowded Hotel, filled with Floridians.  There were Grandma's and Grandpa's; Mom's & Dad's with dogs, puppies, cats, Teenagers hangin' out, as well as kids & babies crawling and walking and playing together.  The hotel put out a welcome of doggie biscuits, diapers, water bottles, etc. and a list of things to do in Birmingham.  The television monitors were all on "The Weather Channel".  This would be our home for four days.

We called the kids and reminded them that we had a nice place to stay...please come!!  Over that four days, we would text our California kids and Florida kids constantly....even being the eyes and ears, when the hurricane's eye headed directly over the kids.  To say that we slept peacefully, would not be honest, but we had air conditioning, electricity, hot food, and hospitality like no other.  We loved the city of Birmingham, and tried to explore it, when we weren't focused on the hurricane.  

Of course, where would I head, but to the Botanical Gardens.
They did not disappoint.
A beautiful, calming place.

A  very zen place

The Vulcan is a Birmingham symbol
that represents the Steel and cast iron industry.

Sweet Hubby was told by my brother, that there was a nice museum that he would enjoy.  We visited the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.  With a beautiful setting in the hills, and a Porsche driving school, next door, my Hubby was 'all in'.   Mostly, it was filled with wonderful motorcycles through out the ages, and Lotus Elan's (which my brother loves and collects....see the connection?).  Here are a few of my favorites.

Wouldn't this be fun to take to the grocery.  It's a tandem bike, but the wicker is just 'beachy".

all that chrome!
You have to love a Harley!

I wanted to take this home, for the after hurricane clean up!

And this is for my brother.   All the Lotus are lined up in order of age.
All are timelessly beautiful.

After "Irma" passed through Florida, it spread out to the east and north, to do more devastation.  So far, between Hurricanes:  Harry; Irma; and Maria, people were left in much worse situations than we can even imagine.  Help is difficult, but the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and untold Church groups are uniting, to try to make a difference.  If you can do something, any little bit is helpful.  It is going to be a life changing event for many.  We were so grateful that our home was still standing, without any interior damage.  We had screens torn up and trees down (or leaning quite a bit) and tons of stuff that blew into the yard.  Next up for us:  Donations with a grateful spirit and yard cleanup, in that order.

since we lost screens, the pool needed a good cleaning.

Many screens blew out.
We are 'on the list' and waiting.
We will replace all of the screens, as many are ripped  from the wind.

A most beautiful Jacaranda was split in two.

If you look right above the garage, a Pine is listing to the left (over the house).
We need to go through the HOA, in order to cut it down.
Slash Pines do not do well in wind, sad to say.
p.s.  that is our clean up pile on the curb.

And the beginning of the trash bag mountain, under our orange tree.
We ended up with about 20 bags of 'stuff' from the yard.

When I am nervous, I like to do hand work.  I finished this while we were evacuated.
It is my new motto.
The original pattern was created by Charlotte Lyons, Of House Wren Studio.
She has a shop on Etsy, if you want to purchase this pattern.
ETSY:  Charlotte Lyons

Just another day at the beach.
Every thing looked so normal on our walk, yesterday.
(lots and lots of shells, though)

For the next month, I will be working on bring back normalcy to our house, our children's home in Florida, and to all of those around us who need a helping hand.  There is clean up needed everywhere,  and just a cheerful face can make someones day, but filling their cupboards up would be even better.  Hopefully, we can all reach out and help out.  If you read this and need some help, please let me know.  

Be well.  Much love.  Caring thoughts.


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