In the Path

Most everyone who comes to this blog knows I live in Central Florida. Orlando, to be precise.  Hurricane Irma is supposed to hit Florida head on, but hurricanes are unpredictable and nobody really knows for sure what is going to happen. Currently the hurricane is directly over Cuba.

In 2004, we sighed with relief when Charley went into the Gulf of Mexico. However, at Charlotte Harbor, Charley turned eastbound up the Peace River. My husband and his former souse were sitting in Orlando watching on the television as the eye of the hurricane moved over their investment home on the Peace River and leveled it. His boat ended up in his neighbor’s living room. Then, Charley headed north, and hit Orlando wide open.

Charley was small, fast and furious, cutting a path across the state before heading back into the Atlantic on the other side of the state. When it hit the Gulf, all of Central Florida had let down their guard. Tornadoes were spawned in Charley’s wake. So there was much devastation across the state.

In 2004, I had never experienced a hurricane. That night, I was off work and sitting on my front porch talking to my dad on the phone while watching the huge oak trees across the street kiss the ground in the torrential rains. My little apartment was on the ground floor of a two-story cinder block building on the NW side of town and I felt safe.

Little did I know that the SE side of town was ripped apart near the airport. I never lost power, so I had hot water and air-conditioning. But I was most fortunate, most were without power for nine days. Early the next morning I was called into work.

As an RN I was considered first responder during Charley and our employers made nurses stay at work 24/7….could not even go home to shower and had to sleep in patients rooms on the floor. I mean we chose that job…but that’s how it was. I lived five mins away and off the night of the hurricane, but was called into work that morning and had to show the police my “Disaster Preparedness Team” papers to be able to be on the interstate. I was in College Park and worked off Michigan. After 16 hours of work, they wanted me to sleep on the floor in a patient’s room because we received a huge amount of patients that had been evacuated from a facility in Lake Wales that had lost its roof. They let me go home for 8 hours, but I had to sign a paper agreeing to be back when I said I would….or risk termination.

We lost a lot of patients during that time. The Nursing Home was without power for nine days. The backup generator only supplied a few room’s outlets. The oxygen concentrators are electric, and once we ran out of O2 tanks, people started dying. We saved more than we lost, but people were literally dying in the hallways. A van of nurses came from Lake Wales to help take care of their patients every day. A couple of days after Charley went thru, the van was involved in a terrible accident in the torrential rain and two nurses were killed and one was paralyzed for life. I don’t think non-essential employees should be mandated to stay on their jobs during such a crises. But it’s crazy here and people can be fired for leaving a job at McDonald’s. Unless they live in a mandatory evacuation area, they are expected to stay.

Life is an adventure and then you die….seriously…we’ve been helping people board up homes and secure pets for those that need to leave. Some of our friends have relatives on the coast that can’t drive any distance (elderly people) so they are going to get them and bringing them to Orlando…I actually feel safer here in Central FL than anywhere else in FL at the moment.

In the aftermath of Charley all you could smell when you walked outside was Bar-B-Q. People were grilling meats that had thawed and was one big party from backyard to back yard…lol It was quite an experience. Free food everywhere….people helping cover rooftops with tarps. Chainsaw sounds were deafening.

But here is the real kicker: We just bought a house on Matlacha. The island is basically a sandbar between Pine Island and Cape Coral in the Gulf of Mexico, just behind Sanibel Island. Pine Island is a conservation island where no more development is allowed…no big condos, hotels or big box stores. Matlacha (pronounced Matt-la-shay) is that tiny red island.

The homes are three feet above sea level…the quaint bungalow we hope to retire to is on a lot that is built up by about 6 feet, and Irma’s storm surge is expected to be 6-10 feet. The Key Westy home is surrounded by coconut trees and sits on a deep water canal just a few yards from the channel that runs wide open to the Gulf. The home is waterfront with picturesque shuttered windows all around, opening views to the dock and the bay. Sanibel and the barrier Islands offer some shelter, but you just never know about these things.

So there is that. Sure hoping the 1964 house will still be standing when all is done, and the island property is not on the bottom of the bay. It’s been there for more than fifty years, so all we can do is hope it can at least last another fifty years.


At any rate, we have a generator for powering our a/c and fridge here in Orlando in case we lose power, and the family is gathering at our place to weather whatever part of the storm hits us here in Orlando Sunday night. There is still a sliver of hope that Irma will continue westward, but all hope of it turning north and heading up the eastern seaboard is gone at this point. It is currently bearing down on Cuba and when it hits the mountains it should weaken. The FL Keys are just starting to get hit with the outer bands, and they are warning them for Cat 3 with 105-125 winds with gusts to 145, and it’s not looking good for Matlacha. However, the house was built in 1964, has weathered many a storm, and we can hope to weather another half century.

Battening down the hatches and riding out the storm!

51 thoughts on “In the Path

    1. Thanks, John…staying strong. Hoping this isn’t divine intervention telling us not to buy the house on Matlacha…hahaha…but if it is and the house is gone…we will start over on our search.

        1. I saw your post and was happy for you. I comment on FB from time to time. I am about 2000 blogs behind in my reading…lol I have given up on catching up. I hurt my back and was out of commission for a few weeks, but back in the saddle again. Nice to hear from everybody. I have missed you all.

  1. HA! My latest blog post was about the very same topic! I’ve been thinking about you and was planning to email to see if you were safe. As you know we are in the panhandle – the end of it – in Okaloosa county. I understand exactly how you feel about staying. We’ve dug in our heels even though friends and family panic. I guess you are also in the “those crazy Florida people” club! We feel safe where we are and I don’t relish the idea of sitting in a traffic jam if I don’t have too. Lots of luck to you and I hope your property fares well as do you and your family! Stay safe…~Elle

    1. Hope you and yours are safe throughout it all….everything is just to unpredictable to panic. We knew this was a possibility when we came to FL. Yep…I would had to be 500-700 miles from home when the aftermath is being cleaned up. The highways are like parking garages now, and many places have no gas, and when the power goes off, no pumps work. If the roof blows off, I want to be here to place a tarpon. I am assuming I will be alive.

  2. I hope goes well for you. Thank you for describing what you and other nurses went through during Charlie. Nurses and other first responders deserve a lot of credit for all they do for the sake of those in need. Stay safe.

    1. Thank you. I know we were appreciated. It was a difficult time for all of us, but we were all in it together. If we were living on the island already or near the coast, I would have already evacuated. We are hopeful that our dream home weathers this storm as well as it has weathered others.

    1. We are hopeful that we will endure nothing more than tropical force winds and rain here in Orlando. Not expecting to be in harms way. It seems the eye has moved westerly…..but sadly, that puts it right over Matlacha.

  3. I was thinking of you as I was watching the news. Such heartbreaking storms the coast has been happening, and this one expected to travel farther into Florida. Hope you remain safe and dry in Orlando. So sorry to hear about your new place being in the path of the storm. What a horrible feeling that must be. Sending positive thoughts your way that it doesn’t get damaged.

    1. Thanks for the good vibes. We are trying to remain hopeful about the house. But if things were not meant to be, divine intervention or otherwise, we will start over on our hunt for something similar. It’s my husband’s life’s dream….and he has weathered many a storm and knows first hand what he’s bargaining for….lol Paradise has it’s price.

    1. Yep…we couldn’t have picked a better target for the hurricane than the house we found…lol Dead center for most of the action it appears. Would have been a sadder story if we had already closed on the house tho. We will likely be okay here in O’Town. Thanks for the prayers. Most appreciated.

  4. I’m so glad that you wrote this. I was honest to goodness thinking of you and wondering how you were doing. I hope you’re able to write again soon after Irma hits and let us know you’re okay. That story about what happened when Charley hit was devastating. Well, not the bar-b-que part, but the people dying. So sad!

    1. As in all of life the bad is certainly tempered by the good. Serenity is knowing that the good does not last forever, but neither does the bad. Will try to check in ASAP. If power is not out for days, should be no problem. Thanks for thinking of us.

  5. Thanks for posting this, Susan. I hadn’t heard from you in a while but saw this attractive house on Facebook, I think. I’ve blogged through stormy weather family-wise this past year: buying a one-story Jacksonville property, selling our tri-level and a rental, clearing out two houses, including the home of my aunt, who died in May and auctioning this house this summer. Now we are hunkered down in northeast Florida with gallons of water, frozen items that I’ll cook/bake Sunday morning (No, we don’t have a generator), and patio furniture grouped into the lanai.

    Your hurricane history matches the names recorded in my journal. Remember when they were all feminine? Now they alternate male-female and so on. Irma is unpredictable, but I predict that a snug home built in 1964 will weather this one. We are all praying for safety and waiting for the storm to pass. Take care!

    1. Thank you, Marian. I saw you stopped by the pink dining room for a spot of tea…lol It’s not looking good for Matlacha house at the moment but so much can change in a few hours. Keep praying for us all to weather the storm. We will be stronger for having done so.

  6. I hope you come out well, Susan! I have a cousin and 2 friends who live in Houston, but they’re all okay. My cousin had been in Montana on vacation, as Harvey approached Texas. He cut his vacation short by 2 days to get back home. He was certainly well-prepared for any pending disaster. He already had plywood cut to fit the windows in his 1920s-era home; a generator; dried food; bottled water; batteries; a gun; and other supplies. Every year I’m amazed by the number of people who wait until the last minute to buy supplies and try to prepare for a catastrophe.

    But I’m glad officials are now letting people alone in the face of such calamities. If someone wants to remain on their property, they should be allowed to do it. No one should ever be forced to leave. It’s a waste of time and energy to enact mandatory evacuations. Instead, I suggest we call them necessary evacuations. People should leave, but if not, leave them be.

    Please keep us updated, Susan!

  7. I’ve been thinking of you, Susan. Glad to hear that you’re prepared for the worst and hopefully the worst won’t happen. I remember Charley very well. I had been so afraid of it hitting St. Pete where my sister lived and then suddenly it veered. Relief for me, but such devastation. A friend of mine was working at University of Central Florida back then. Her account was harrowing.
    Now I’m worried about St. Pete again and all I can do is hope my sister, who still lives there, is hunkered down with the friend that she said she planned to stay with. My sister lives in a mobile home park and I’ll be surprised if any of those trailers will be standing once Irma plows through. At best, the storm surge will make them uninhabitable. Eh, I’ll be glad when Irma is out of Florida. I don’t know which is worse: the anticipation or the storm itself. It’s supposed to hit Tallahassee sometime Monday afternoon so I’m glad it will be during the day. Last year, Hurricane Hermine came through in the dead of night and that was just too eerie to sit through.
    Stay safe!

      1. Glad to hear this, Susan! Our house made it through unscathed but we have two downed pines on a rental property, one ripping the edge of the garage. No lives lost – much to be thankful for!

    1. Oh my, Carl. That is sad news. Don’t let that baby get dehydrated. I don’t care if she has to drink bathtub water. Find a way to boil it. Sheesh…this is really horrible…we still have friends here in Orlando bunking with each other for A/C. I know I don’t have gas to get to Ft. Lauderdale and back…is the Red Cross or anyone anywhere around with water?

      1. Left Miami after 60 years (been through every one since 1954) now in Greensboro, NC. Family there says no food or bottled water in stores. They were able to get a small generator from a relative and can run one appliance at a time so can boil water. Seems assistance agencies focused in Keys and Tampa area now. Americans should understand now what it would be like if North Korea was able to send a few nukes on America and how that regime must be destroyed immediately. Besides death and destruction there would be no gas, water or food for months and months.

          1. I’m especially upset over the nursing home tragedy in Hollywood, FL. The same thing happened with Katrina. A quarter-century after Hurricane Andrew struck, our leaders STILL can’t seem to understand the extent of our most vulnerable residents!

            I also believe it’s time to evacuate such areas like the Florida Keys permanently – and not because of any global warming prospects, as controversial as that theory is. Those islands are barrier islands, which mean they serve as barriers to storm surges. They weren’t meant for continuous human occupation. Their purpose is to undercut the power of ocean water that is shoved ashore as a storm approaches. Most of the islands off the Texas coast and the coast of the Carolinas are also barrier islands. Those islands could be turned into something like national parks. While island living may seem ideal for many people, everyone needs to understand those places are vulnerable to hurricanes and tsunamis.

            I also feel it would be a worthwhile investment for the U.S. to place as many power and telecommunication lines underground as possible. Yes, it would cost billions of dollars, but the expense would be well worth it, in terms of lives saved. We spent trillions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we send billions in foreign aid. We can damn sure spend time and money on our own welfare! But I guess that would too practical for the federal government.

            1. Every piece of property on this earth has it’s own song of disaster to sing. If we evacuated every dangerous area, humans would have to leave the planet. I do think there should be more judicious use of resources and agree that our infrastructure needs a major overhaul. Quite frankly…our government needs a major overhaul. … Far removed from it’s current course.

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