The last few days have been … I’m not sure of the best adjective. It could be stressful, or unique, or any of a number of words.
After anticipating Hurricane Irma with a mixture of dread and curiosity we had to leave on the day that the storm was to arrive in our little corner of Georgia. On Monday, L drove in rain and drizzle three hours and then under overcast skies for another three hours until we reached Durham, NC. On Tuesday I had a CT scan of my chest and then saw my surgeon.
The CT was negative, but I have had a small nodule on my calf, in the field of my previous radiation, that I have felt and fretted about for several months. I purposely did not tell L because there was nothing to be done prior to the visit. The surgeon was sufficiently concerned to biopsy the place. By the time we left Durham it was mid afternoon, and it was raining in Eastern North Carolina.
We called our neighbor and found that we had trees down, no power, and no damage to the house.
Loathe, to arrive after dark to a dark house, we made reservations in Asheville, NC, two hours from home, and spent the night. It was an uneventful evening. We ate supper, dropped by the Book Exchange, and walked to our somewhat dilapidated old downtown motel. I love the motel.
The Downtown Inn
It is an old Days Inn with all sorts of history. I know it was a Days Inn because, despite the fact that the sign has been taken down, the outline of the words remains on the façade. Entrance to one's room is from the outside balconies to a room which has been updated and modernized from the 1950s Moderne, mostly in the form of king sized beds – which fill up the rooms – and on-the-wall power strips for all of today’s electronic gadgets. The microwave in our room said that the time was 0:00. Somehow, that seemed fitting because the motel is out of time; a 1950s building in a district that is all turn of the last century.
It is obvious that the motel once rented by the hour as each guest must present a photo I.D, to be scanned and filed, that proves that all have residences greater than fifty miles away. The new owners have steadily improved the place over the last few years and the nightly rate has risen in accordance with the improvements. Still, the rate is half that of the stately old hotels in the area. Would I stay in a nicer motel? Sure, but the price and the location are both right, and I have never felt unsafe there.
So, we left yesterday morning, the 13th for home. There was a Carolina blue sky and mountain ranges disappearing into the distance as we drove. Turning onto our lane we stopped to let the Esposito’s little girl scamper across the street. The whole family was out raking and blowing all of the debris out of the yard.
Driving further down our lane there was leaf debris and small limbs down everywhere. An enormous oak root ball six to eight feet in diameter rose next to the street with the trunk neatly running down the property line between two of our neighbor’s houses. Generators chugged away everywhere; not a good sign.
The entrance to our drive was blocked by the top of a pine tree, and two other pines could be seen down across the road as it turned down between our place and another neighbor’s home. I walked through all sorts of small limbs to our back drive and walked it to the highway. There were many small limbs down, but after tossing those to the side the back drive was passable.
The old dogwood in front of my wife's studio was broken in two, but fell away from the building.
The power was out, there was no WiFi. Initially, there was no land line service, but it came back on a few hours after getting home. I called our yard guy, who has become a friend, and asked him if he could cut the top of the tree away where it blocked the drive. He was getting a new chain for his chain saw at the time and was in town.
L had an appointment for a hair cut and a dye job. I’ve found that those cosmetic appointments take place regardless of weather or which political party is in power. So, I went to get my hair cut, as well.
When we came home the tree was topped, and Bill had blown the debris out of the drive. That sort of extra effort is hard to find, the reason he has gained a huge business, and the reason we have become friends.
We ate by electric lantern and candle light, and I wrote this in the dark. The laptop still had a charge. I saved it and went to bed at 9:00 p.m. There was nothing to do in the dark, with no power.
Things could be so much more inconvenient.
A former co-worker and her husband moved to St. Thomas a few years ago. She posted pictures of their place after the hurricane passed through. There were pieces of lumber laying all over the yard. They had no power, but cell phone service had returned long enough to post pictures to Facebook. Her next post was heart breaking. Somehow, either due to the storm and loss of security or by coincidence, while she and her husband were hunkered down in the hall during the hurricane, some low life in Columbus, Ohio was having a field day with her debit card. A phone call informed her that her bank account had been cleaned out.
Although this is not a picture my friend in St. Thomas posted on Facebook, this picture off of the web looks much the same as hers did.
I hear news from places like Barbuda saying that there is nothing left on the island. Fortunately, all of the inhabitants were evacuated prior to land fall.
Americans in the Conch Republic have found themselves without power, water, or any service. It is amazing that residents stayed to ride it out, but that is the mentality of people who live in the Florida Keys.
September 14, 2017:
I awoke at 5:15 thinking it was daylight. Some creature had tripped the security light motion detector in back and the light was shining through the blinds on my face. The power is back. Thanks go to all of those power company employees who work day and night to restore service. I’m sure they don’t get payed enough.