Blogging From the Library

I hope you all weren't too worried about me. I am fine. The north side of my roof lost a lot of shingles, my power is still out and so is my telephone. But other than that, I'm okay.

Here's what happened: On Monday, I called my dad around 8 a.m. and while I was talking with him, my power went out. About 15 minutes later, the winds really started howling in from the north. The back side of the storm was hitting our area, and it was interacting with a cold front coming down from the north which intensified the winds. I estimate that we were seeing gusts of 80-90 mph or more. It was a bit scary, and it shredded the shingles from the north side of my roof. From all the ones I picked up in the back yard after the storm, I'm surprised that there were any left. Apparently, however, there was a double-layer of shingles. I don't see any plywood showing from the front of the house.

Anyway, the storm shrieked out its fury for about three hours, and we were still getting strong gusts in the early afternoon. I called my dad back around 1 p.m. to let him know that I was okay, other than losing power. Then, I went outside to see the damage. I spent the next hour or so picking up shingles and branches from trees across the street and in my neighbor's yard. Oh, and lots and lots of fronds from my palm tree, at least fifteen or more, which were on the side of the house and out back. When I checked the phone again, it was dead.

The power remained out overnight Monday and all day Tuesday. Then, yesterday afternoon at 5:10, it came back on... for 15 minutes. Hooray! Then it went out again. Loud curses. I heard fire trucks coming, and it turned out that a branch had been on one of the power lines down the street and started a fire. Most of the surrounding area now has power again, but we don't in my neighborhood. I'm just hoping that it's something that they can fix relatively easily, and that we haven't been pushed to the end of the line.

The good news is that the weather has been very pleasant, with lows in the 50s and highs only in the 70s. Usually, we suffer in the heat and humidity after a hurricane, but this one is unique in that regard. I've never seen a strong cold front push in behind a Category 3 hurricane before. The temperature gradient of the air was something like 77 in Fort Myers and 57 in Tampa when the strongest winds came through, and that difference accounts for the wind damage. Lots of street signs and even whole trees were blown down in my area, and we weren't the most severely damaged.

Also, because I'm still on vacation, I don't have to worry about going in to work until Sunday night. I'd better have electricity back before then or I won't have a trustworthy alarm clock to wake me up.

The bad news is that I have a 2% hurricane deductible on my homeowner's insurance, which means that most of the cost of fixing my roof is probably going to come out of my own pocket. Also, because I don't have electricity, my well isn't working. I've got plenty of bottled water to drink (more on that in a second), but water for washing and flushing the toilet is more problematic. I have two large containers filled with water to flush the toilet, and there is still water in the hot water heater, although it's cold. I found that out when I took a spit-bath out of a couple of bowls with a wash cloth, then used a couple more bowlfuls to wash my hair. The cold water was most unpleasantly bracing, but I'm clean again to some extent; I'll be glad when the power comes back on and I can take a hot shower, after the hot water heater warms up.

I had about six or seven gallons of bottled water available for myself, plus another couple of gallons of tap water that I'd run into bottles for the animals. This morning, I read that FEMA and the National Guard were handing out water, ice and other stuff in Lehigh Acres, so I swung by there. They gave me two 24-packs of bottled water (1/2 liter each) and a bag of ice. They didn't have any MRE's, which is too bad. I've got stuff to eat, so I won't starve, but I could have used more. Best of all, there was no line at all. I was in and out in less than a minute. I didn't even have to get out of my car! I just popped the trunk lid and the soldiers put the water in my trunk, and then the Lehigh Acres Fire Department fireman put the ice in afterward and closed it up. I won't go thirsty.

The temperatures are supposed to start creeping up, though, with low 80s expected over the next three days or so. Please, PLEASE let my power come back soon.

Also, one more observation: You have NO idea how long a night actually is until you don't have electricity. I've woken up around 1 or 2 a.m. both of the last two nights. Last night, I woke up in time to listen to the last couple of innings of the World Series game. Then, I listened to the radio for the rest of the night. It really sucks not being able to play on my computer. I've done a lot of reading the last couple of days. Right now, I'm working on Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Fun, fun, fun, until sunset. Then, I'm in the dark again, unless I want to read by flashlight.