We became concerned last Tuesday as it picked up strength and was headed towards the Florida coast. We took stock of all the items around the outside that could become missiles, and everything was picked up and either went in the house, the pool house or the garage. There was a continued conversation with neighbors and Janice’s brother Steve and his wife Marilyn about evacuating or staying put.
As Wednesday came we could see the path and the forecast, it was to become a category 4, we completed putting possible projectiles out of harms way. There was a “little” excitement in the idea of “riding” out the storm. Back in 2005 we lived in Plantation , a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, and Hurricane Wilma, category 5, was supposedly no threat to the east coast of Florida and was headed for Fort Myers. It did the unexpected and went straight across what we call “Alligator Alley”, east from Naples to Fort Lauderdale. It was so sudden, the eye went right over our home, it was like a train going through the house. We saw trees and debris fly past our window and in the morning our mango tree was missing and the screen over the pool was long gone, parts of the roof tiles disappered! “Been there!!…Done that!!”
We still had power and Internet in Flagler Beach so we researched a number of places in west Florida. Janice’s brother Brian, lives in Sarasota and there is always room at the Robert’s Inn, that was our destination in 2005 after experiencing Wilma with no power. The main route from our home to Brian’s takes you across the state on route Interstate 4 from Daytona Beach through Orlando and all the Disney locations, then on to Tampa. A disaster to drive under normal conditions. Looking at Google Maps, it was even worse, because of all the large reaching evacuation from the east coast of Florida, it was a parking lot!
The issue then becomes if you leave, what are you going to do when you get there. GOLF!!
For those of you that do not know, we have purchased another Roadtrek RV, after our travels to Europe we realized we are “Gypsies” and missed the freedom. We found a 2012 Roadtrek Adventurous that was literally the same layout as our 2008 model so we looked for an RV park outside the weather on the west coast.
We decided that Thursday morning to head out. We picked Ho-Hum RV Park in Carrabelle, Florida, about 5 hours west. It is an hour south of Tallahassee, our state capital and recipient of college tuition for our children Kieran and Courtney at Florida State University. Janice’s brother Steve and Marilyn decided to evacuate, so they followed us to Carrabelle and then drove over to their hotel in Tallahassee. We set up at the Ho-Hum RV Park, the people were fantastic. There is a 250 foot fishing dock off the beach and we made a Mount Gay Rum and Diet Coke to go enjoy the dock and the views of the water. We then met a whole group of other evacuees from locations in Florida and some from Georgia and Buford, South Carolina. We enjoyed some appetizers, drinks and fun conversation. It was just beautiful!!
Janice’s brother Brian wanted to help in anyway he could. He told the story of having Lord Ganesha pointed towards the ocean from his office and home. Years ago his friend Keith did the same when Hurricane Charley was pointed to Sarasota. Charley changed direction to the east and hit Punta Gorda. Sorry for them, but saved Brian’s home. It worked!!! We, of course, were blessed by God.
Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order.He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that “his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation.
A quick dinner and some TV to get updates on the storm. The news was not good, Mathew was
bearing down on the coast after going through Nassau, Bahamas. We were heart broken over the devastation in Haiti, they have been through so much. It continued on up the coast. We were thinking of our dear neighbors across the street, Linda and Frank Ruff who decided to “ride it out” and Linda and Dave Culver who just finished their new home over the last year. We went to bed fearing the
worse, praying for the best, the total loss of the house because of losing the roof. Our home is an old beach house built in 1958, so certainly was not built to the existing hurricane standards. A Category 4 direct hit would be devastating and that was the direction of the storm.
We woke up in the morning about 5:30 a.m. and turned on the news. The storm was two hours south of Daytona Beach (30 miles south of Flagler Beach). It was off the coast of Daytona and we knew we would not take a direct hit in Flagler Beach, unless it suddenly jolted to the west. After spending a difficult night of sleep, the mind wandering constantly, we both had tears of joy and thankfulness that the worse we would experience was some wind damage, but not a total disaster. The brunt of the storm was not due to hit until about noon on Friday.
We knew that sitting and trying to watch a train wreck work its way up the coast to Flagler Beach, we needed to do the more important thing, avoid thinking, and just play golf!! Steve and Marilyn drove down to meet us at Saint James Bay Golf Club for a 10:40 tee time. Marilyn does not play but decided to ride in the cart with Steve. Marilyn stayed “on-line” with her phone, so we stayed in touch with Frank and Linda, hunkered down in their house and was on a link called Flaglerlive.com that was constantly updating what was happening. The course was not easy with long carries from the tees to the fairways. A good golf course worth a return.
As we moved along, Marilyn saw a video from Anthony, owner of Oceanside Restaurant, along A1A in Flagler Beach. He was driving through town and posting videos of the storm. We were shocked at the damage along the ocean to the beach road (Highway A1A). The homes he showed didn’t look too bad, but the road was a disaster. We communicated with both Frank and Linda as well as Linda and Dave and everyone was safe. Matthew continued to move north to Saint Augustine, where there was a lot of damage.
We left the golf course and headed into Carrabelle to have an early dinner with Steve and
Marilyn. What a great friendly town. We shall return to Ho-Hum in Paradise!!
Saturday morning we headed out about 7:30 a.m. back to Flagler Beach. We talked to Frank and Linda and they said the house seemed fine with little damage. It is interesting, we laughed with Steve and Marilyn, how you think the worse, could lose everything and then when you find out that little happened and you worry about repairing a fence. You do have to laugh.
We arrived in Flagler about 1:30 p.m.. The police and National Guard set up a baracade at the Route 100 bridge to Flagler Beachm, only residents were permitted across to the barrier, We drove to the house and were delighted to be home. Steve and Marilyn joined us and we went to Frank and Linda’s for celebration cocktails and stories from our neighbors about the neighborhood.
The next morning we all got together to walk along the beach see the damage caused by Mathew as it went buy. We survived damage last the house because the storm was about 35 miles out to sea. The real damage was caused by the ocean surges wearing awn at the beach. The storm surge was about ten feet, which took it to the the level of the road. It caused all the large rocks and boulders that lined the road above the beach to totally collapse don to the water. The beach road (A1A) in many places was half washed away. It made for great video news coverage, so many of you may have seen it on the national news.
Our old generator would not start, lack of planing ahead, but the Roadtrek has a propane generator and that worked fine to power a few lights, the fridge, and because we have Dish Satellite TV, TV was working.
We were blessed and very lucky surviving the hurricane. Our thoughts and prayers go out to so many of our friends and others that had to endure Hurricane Mathew and still can’t get to their homes to see how they survived. A special prayer for Richard and Carol, stuck in Athens, Ga.
Our thanks go out to all of you with your notes and encouragement. We were so fortunate and thankful.