Hurricane Charley   

Hmm… WHEW! about covers it for me.

Last night was one of the scariest of my life. There is no way to describe what goes through your head as you huddle, in the dark, covered by blankets and pillows in a small inside bathroom with 3 cats listening to the wind howling outside. Plus, there was definitely wind going through the building as I could hear the pipes clanging around. It was surreal.

I’ll admit that I was more than a little bit freaked out earlier in the day. I eventually fell asleep on the couch because the stress was exhausting me. I woke up about 8:00 suddenly. I’m not sure what woke me but the storm was raging outside my front window. TV was reporting that it was moving into our area and giving preliminary reports on the casualties/damage in Charlotte County where it made landfall. My cell phone rang at that point, freaking me out.

It was my mom wanting an update. She and dad were in Maine for the week and are on their way home. Last night they stayed overnight in NC and were watching reports on the news as they knew the hurricane had changed course and was headed straight for me. I quickly got off the phone with her because I have paranoia about being on the line during storms. I know, I know… that makes no sense when talking about a cell phone but old phobias are hard to break. �� :smile:

After I hung up with her, the winds started to pick up and I decided I needed to move to my extra bedroom (the innermost room I have). I herded the cats in there, shut the door and hunkered down watching the TV in there. The power went out several times at that point. Quick outs and back on moments. Then my friend, Deidra, called. She is about 5 mi down the road from me. She was already huddled in her innermost bathroom with her 2 sons. Power went out as we talked and I lost her several times. The last time she called, I lost power for good. I called her back on my cell and said I’d check in with her after the storm had passed before quickly getting off the phone for good. I haven’t heard back from her but I’m being good and staying off the phones until 10AM this morning.

From that point… well, it didn’t take long for the wind to drive me into my innermost bathroom. I left the door open for a while because the cats didn’t want to join me but eventually it got too much for me so I rounded them up and forced them to join me before shutting the door. With no power, I initially lit the candle sconce on my bathroom wall but it was flickering way too much and I didn’t want to cause a fire just to have light. So, I extinguished that and turned on my radio so that I could have a “voice” to keep me sane.

I was pretty much in the dark after that during the storm. I have a Fisher-Price cow flashlight that moos when you turn it on and, if you turn it on permanently, it moos every few seconds. Welp, the moo-ing was freaking my cats out so I kept that off as much as possible. They were already fighting and grating on my nerves so I wanted to keep their stress down as much as possible. Still, they quickly realized I was stressed and got quiet. They alternated who was laying by the shut door and who was laying near me.

The radio station kept me sane as they were taking calls from people and that kept me updated as to where the storm was and how quickly it was moving. I knew when the eye had arrived because all the noise stopped and the pipes got quiet again for a few minutes. It was extremely eerie but I knew that it wasn’t over so I stayed put. I finally emerged from the bathroom around 10:00PM when I knew the eye had moved through and the wind had died down.

I called my parents at that point and checked in with them. The official word from the Orlando International Airport was that they were reporting sustained winds at 105 MPH. Given that I live less than a mile away from the airport, it’s pretty safe to say that’s what I got those winds as well. The one good thing about living near the airport is that the airport is often one of the official places to report on rainfall and wind speed during these types of things. So, you’re bound to know exactly what I’m experiencing once those reports make it to the media.

I was still worried about the threat of tornadoes once the storm passed. The backside of these types of storms leave the air so unstable and the wind whipping that tornadoes are likely. Though there were a few reported, we really lucked out that the storm was moving so fast that we actually got almost no tornadoes wreaking further damage. Still, I kept all my emergency supplies in the bathroom and my ear glued to the radio for any warnings.

Finally, everything had pretty much calmed down enough that I could relax enough to light several candles and change into some cooler clothes (no AC makes the apt hot fast). I also ventured outside with my flashlight to check out any damage. Several of my neighbors were also out though none of us really spoke to each other. You could just see flashlights sweeping throughout the apt complex. I couldn’t see much last night, just a few shingles near my door and a vague idea that some of the trees in the wooded area behind my door were down.

I sat up listening to the radio and reading my book until about 1:30 AM when it was reported that Charley had made his way back out to sea. I wanted to make sure that I could go sleep without being tense about any storm backlash. I did stay up reading by candlelight in bed as I was too hyped up to sleep. Eventually I did manage to calm down enough to sleep. I woke up at 4:30 AM when my power came back on… got up to turn off the lights I had on when the power went and returned to bed immediately.

I was in a pretty dead sleep when I woke up at 8:15-ish this morning. I could hear kids outside picking things up so I got dressed and went outside to check everything out. First thing I did was go out to my garage and check on my car. Nothing moved around in the garage despite my fears otherwise so I had no damage there. That was when I noticed that several of the small trees in our parking lots were bent sideways or completely down on top of cars. Several roof shingles were out in the road as well as on the lawns. There’s also some siding from under the gutters that is off throughout the complex. My neighbor’s DirectTV satelite was snapped in half and lying on the ground. The wooded area behind my door has several trees either broken in half or completely down. It used to be fairly thick and I could barely see through it but now I can almost see the retaining pond on the other side and I have lots more light in my living room with those trees no longer blocking out the sky.

I obviously have power and cable now but more than 50% of Orlando doesn’t. Lots of trees and signs are down throughout the area but no real casualties reported yet. They do not want us out on the road today as they have to get the debrise picked up. I’m kinda at a loss on what to do. I can’t do wash as we have been asked to use our water sparingly over the next few days. I’ve tried to call friends but can’t get through to any of them. I suspect their power is out as I get no answering machines when I call their home phones. My cell phone has little to no signal and keeps switching from LOCAL to EXTENDED AREA to ROAMING which tells me the towers are overloaded so I’m trying to stay off of that. I did talk via IM to the son of my good friend from work. He and his fiancee had very little damage to their home and he assured me his parents are OK. The oak tree in their front yard fell down but that seems to be the worst of their damage so far. So, that’s one less person to worry about.

Soooo… to keep me busy I’m writing this out. I feel very blessed to have come through this completely unscathed. It is amazing to watch the news report about what is going on but I still feel like I’m not getting enough information. And, no matter what channel I turn to, I can’t get any more information. I suspect they’re all having the same problems. Everyone is still assessing the damange and we really won’t know the extent of it for another day but, since I can only sit at home and watch, I want to know now.

:sigh: Ok, well I’m going to see if there is something I can do outside and maybe make myself some brunch. I need to find something to keep myself busy or I’m gonna go stir crazy. Love you all! :hugs:

2 Responses to “Hurricane Charley”

  1. 1
    calturner says:

    {{Rae}} I can’t imagine how scary that must have been for you. So glad you’re safe and well! *hugs*

  2. 2
    cara_leigh9 says:

    {{Rae}} So glad you’re safe. I know what 80mph winds felt/sounded like, I can’t imagine how scary 105mph winds are.

    Caraleigh *sighs* I turned it into “all about me” again, sorry.