Date: 20 September 2017. Hurricane Irma
Believe me when I say hindsight is
20/20. Everyone is smarter after the fact. I sure was/am. Knowing
what I know now, would I have left? NO WAY. And I was not the only
person who felt betrayed. Universally, those I met across the bridge
on the mainland side were all sorry we had left our homes on the
beach. The promises made of an early return were not kept.
Telling me 10' to 15' of water is
expected in Miami and watching a reporter standing in ankle deep
water does not engender trust in the news media. This storm, here,
was over-hyped. NOAA had the storm surge wrong -- all wrong.
None of us want to be forced off our boats.
This is my
This is NOT a
Irene's boat Katja
↑ spider-webbed for storm.
You may note that Irene of Katja (photo above, right) has her lines to and from all her cleats.
Those of us who have owned a boat for any length of time have added
cleats. It's a given. Boats need more than they have as standard
ones, big enough for your largest storm lines. Aboard Seaweed I
primarily use 8" cleats, all stainless of course.
preparation is physically demanding work. Getting a boat ready for a
hurricane is mentally exhausting. Nobody wants to contemplate
ever leaving their
home unprotected for some other place. We nest, creating a safe nook for our
lives aboard our homes.
As for me, I dug out every line I have stowed and put them all out. There
is no use storing a spare line in a locker when it might be
necessary to keep my boat in place. I knew that once the lines were
set I'd have the boat too far away from the dock to exit. That was
okay and I was perfectly satisfied to stay aboard centered in front
of the mangroves.
"my" mangroves. I share with a variety of waterfowl.
Seaweed is barely visible just above the main
The plan was to tuck in as close
as possible to my mangroves. I centered Seaweed between the boat to
my west and a finger pier on the east. There was approximately 5' of
open water between me and the hard stuff. To get to land I could use
Algae, the dinghy. (Algae has an automatic bilge pump so I'm not
concerned about even torrential rains.)
I am well protected from winds via
the mangrove. Mangrove swamps are often considered hurricane holes.
Folks look for them, tie off to the branches and sit tight during
major hurricanes. When I was growing up, that is exactly what we
would do. Mangroves also offer a "soft edge" when the winds kick.
My location was ideal. Yet I left my Seaweed. I bowed to pressure
from a multitude of well-meaning friends. The wildly inaccurate
NOAA Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6
report played a part too.
The decision I made to leave my home haunts me. The strong independent woman I see myself
as, caved. When I look in the mirror I'm not happy with myself.
The feeling of inadequacy will abate. That won't happen overnight.
Hurricane in Year:
Aftermath of storm:
Andrew in 1992
Locals giving directions
saying "turn right where the Circle K used to be"
Georges in 1998
Government "for our own good" refused to allow FL
Keys residents back home.
Ivan in 2004
No power, carpets mildewed,
hot and humid
Katrina in 2005
More of the same, hot and
humid, no power for three weeks.
Irma in 2017
Once again, government
officials refused to let locals who left in good faith return
ASAP as promised. Say "never again" and your thoughts are
echoing my own.
I'm having a hard time accepting that I would leave a great spot, go
to the mainland, live once again without electricity, be barred from
returning by authorities, and, well, all that "for my own
good" ... ARGH!
One of these days I'm going to find this design
↑ on a magnet for my
I am suffering from a feeling of betrayal. I was lost and helpless. Though my physical
safety was okay (albeit without caffeine because there was no power
on the mainland where I was) my mental state was frazzled.
It was AWFUL. Thank goodness I
have friends. The folks I was staying with were amazed that I
received text messages and phone calls all through the night. I am
blessed with a circle of friends.
NOAA kept notching up the
height of Irma's impending flood water levels. [Update #46 for Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6]
The Slosh/Surge report predicted horrible floods everywhere.
The Slosh/Surge report predicted horrible floods everywhere. NOAA predicted
storm waters between 10' and 15' above ground level in Miami at one point. Ha. I saw a
reporter who was standing in ankle deep water on *Brickell
Avenue. When I mentioned this to my kidlet she assured me that
the water was deeper.
*Brickell runs along the
riverfront in downtown Miami.
During the night Kidlet and I sent text
frequently. Here is one of our early morning chats:
7:39 a.m. Me: They lied to us. I
am fine and very mad with lying media. Fifteen feet of water in
Miami turned out to be ankle deep on Brickell Avenue down by the
river. Liars and media hype shysters. Argh.
7:39 Kidlet: Where are you? Who
lied? And it was more than ankle deep in Brickell. I saw at least a
7:50 Me: If so, the reporter was in a pothole.
As you can tell, I'm
becoming frazzled. All night I've worried about Seaweed. I
read the NOAA Surge reports and based my decision to leave on
them. At this point I still think I can return home without
Life is about to get
And please note I'm not
normally so irate. Nobody, at least not me, is at their best
when under stress. I am not proud of my texts. Still, this is
real world, and I'm not sugar-coating my distress. Irma was a
pivotal moment in time for me.
The whole fiasco was dreadful and I don't ever want
to feel that way again...
is the picture ↓ Kidlet sent proving that Miami had more than
ankle deep water downtown.
Though no where near
10' to 15', it might be knee deep.
The pressure to leave my
intense. When the next door neighbor guaranteed we could return the
next morning I agreed to leave. From the moment I said yes I
regretted saying so. My stomach was in knots and I was beside myself
with regret. I should have listened to my gut.
A good friend had offered a place for us to stay. It was a cement
block house and therefore safe from storm winds. That was very kind
of him. I was told the house was just a mile from Seaweed. I knew
that I could walk home from that distance should there be any
nonsense about returning quickly due to trees down in the roads. And
we had the Emergency Access Permit which was supposed to allow us to
go home ASAP.
This is the
Magic Admittance placard, aka Emergency Access Permit. It was all a
We were not permitted back on the beach.
This deputy sheriff ↓ is prohibiting yet another person from
The deputy said it was "too dangerous" and that downed power
lines could electrocute us.
THE POWER LINES WERE DOWN.
In the town I'm in, all the electric lines are buried beneath
another excuse, written on the back of the Magic Permit that didn't
let us in:
Access to affected areas will be controlled. You won't be able to
return home until search and rescue operations are complete and
safety hazards, such as downed power lines, are cleared. It may take
2 to 4 weeks before utilities are restored."
FERTILIZER. Totally 100% garbage. We were told 200 Emergency First
Responders were staying at a resort on the beach. So it's perfectly
safe for them, but not us. We who have assets and motivation to take
care of our stuff are prohibited from returning. To say I was
DOGGONE unhappy would be the understatement of the century.
beach was a HUGE mistake.
you me, I was not the only irate individual...
Skipper was watching the traffic jam too. It was
ridiculous and the populous was not amused.
My faith in government
Emergency Management was shattered. For the record I do not blame
the frontline deputies who were just spouting what they were told to
some cars and trucks being allowed to cross the bridge did not help
my sense of humor. Had those of us with the passes been allowed to
return immediately, the frustration and anger I witnessed would not
I did not hear
one person say "Gosh, it's good to be safe and secure in the hot sun
with no electricity while government so-and-so's keep us away from
our homes." Instead I listened while men and women swore they'd
never again leave their residences.
time a mandatory evacuation is ordered the majority of those folks
will not leave. Our faith and trust were betrayed. We have long
memories. I know I won't leave my home again. That is because
promises were not kept.
Fool me once,
your fault. Fool me twice, my fault.
The thing is, back in 1998 the Florida Keys had a mandatory
evacuation order for a hurricane. We were all promised immediate access
after the storm had come through. Then it was "too dangerous" and
nobody was allowed back.
that stayed, they were right happy with the services provided. Those
kept out were not!
then I would never leave my home. Then, well, this time I was
"assured" with the Emergency Access Permit I could return immediately. First thing in
the morning sounded about right. By then the threatened surge would have passed
and so too, the storm. Instead, I got broken promises.
A lot of
the lies were broadcast by the over-hyped media brats who lack the veracity
of a two year old child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
They spew the government lies, and tell us we are all safe because
of their diligence. Bah humbug. And there was a lot of humbug!
little more than miffed as you can tell from the preceding
paragraph. This is real life though. I am not always a wonderfully
patient person. Sometimes I've had Plenty. This was one of those
Now about that
surge? Want to see it?!? Sure you do.
"surge" at Cheryl's house.
Alchemy as the water drains from the bay.
Alchemy, Island Time and
Youroumei after the storm.
Cheryl and her husband Fred
own Island Time. They were smarter than I was. They did not
Instead of the dreadful storm surge the experts
predicted, we had extremely low tides. The water was sucked out of
the bays. Extraordinarily low water levels were experienced up and
down the Gulf coast of Florida.
This is the beach at John's Pass.
↓ Cheryl confessed that she had
never had the beach all to herself, until Irma.
A lot more of the sand was exposed due to the
extremely low tides.
JOHN'S PASS is a channel into
Gulf *ICW from the Gulf of Mexico.
*ICW: Intra-Coastal Waterway
Florida is where I met Cap'n Kim.
The Apalachicola Bay by Carrabelle normally looks
Hurricane Irma on Apalachicola Bay:
exploring the flats exposed by Hurricane Irma.
Photos by Cap'n Kim.
I've taken Seaweed across the bay
where these photos were taken.
It's a mite too shallow right now!
This is the view of
Apalachicola Bay, back to normal the day after the storm.
We were fortunate in that the storm surge never
happened here. I do feel for those who were inundated with flood
waters. Hurricane Harvey in Texas comes to mind...
Here the meteorologists
got it all wrong.
Yes, I realize I "had it good"
when compared with others who were prohibited from returning for a
much longer duration. Being away from my Seaweed and not knowing her
fate was traumatic. The aggravation of not being allowed back
promptly contributed to this overwhelming feeling of despair and
come... I'll post the next part
Have you ever left under a Mandatory Evacuation Order?
And, were you let back in promptly?
© 2017, 2020
Hurricane Irma (part 2) ~
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