Day-0 was around 5:00 p.m. on September 6th. It’s hard to describe what its like being indoors in the cusp of a powerful tropical system like Irma. Even a video can’t come close to experiencing the sheer violence of it. The massiveness of that violence…the thousand shattering sounds, the howling winds, the water rising at your feet, and the panic you feel as a heavy gust or flying lumber cannons off your window, door or roof.
People respond differently. I tend to stay calm and keep a watchful eye, forcing myself to think. But whether it lasts for two hours or thirty I suspect everyone keeps wondering when its going to stop.
Emotional reactions after the wind and violent noises subside are different also. I tend to default to a protective mode and stay very close to my property and loved ones.
This time was no different. Chopping wood from fallen trees, dragging branches and tons of debris out to the public road, and checking on neighbors takes up all of my attention for days. I cant tell you what it’s like on those roads…didn’t venture out until day three or four..and even then, only in my own neighborhood. Yes I’m a youth-worker, but its dangerous and illegal to be out there.
Laser 101 for the 7th straight storm, became our only contact with the rest of the island and the outside world. As usual, telephone services and internet will be spotty for months.
By the end of Sep 8th, the island was already preparing for hurricane Jose. We heard scraps of news that it was a cat-4 but passing north of us..far enough not to be a major concern. But it still felt like we were in cross-hairs of nature’s crap-shoot.
There’s no foliage cover for the iguanas, and they’re all over…a welcome sight, if you ask me.
Not-so-welcome are the rats and mice with less places to hide. Something tells me they’ll become a problem as the days go by and all the neighborhoods have less refrigeration. Hundreds of instant hills of garbage will pile up, and the race between opposing armies of heavy equipment operators and garbage workers vs. the rodents will begin. stalemate wont come til mid-2018. That’s just the nature of things.
Listening to the radio and waiting for Jose, so I’m not working much.
At 8:57 p.m. a cool breeze calms our fears. There was a little rain during the day.. not much.
Lots of news and gossip on the radio. The U.S. airlifts its citizens back home. GEBE’s water-storage capacity down by 50% as its buildings and equipment sustained major hits. Irma totally obliterated the Yellow building, a steel frame and galvanized shell. It’s now flattened to a heap of shrapnel. Seems like if you had galvanized roofing there’s a 50-50 chance you lost it…especially if it wasn’t reinforced since the last storm.
Things are starting to feel just a little desperate even for me..a guy who’s Mom was dragging him around as a 17-month toddler in a storm that took hundreds of lives in 1961.
Meat-stuff from the fridge all thawed out and half-cooked. Another day or so and there will be none left. Luckily there’s still oranges, limes and apples holding out. Onions, carrots and garlic wont be a problem either. All the other fresh produce are starting to attract flies. Even flour is running low. If we cant get out to hustle or buy something we’ll be in pure survival mode soon.
Survival mode means canned goods. They’re there in the back of the pantry. It’s a last resort.
Somehow though, just like after Carmen, Fifi, Greta, Lenny or Luis, or so many other storms over the years, it still just takes me back to joyous camping days at Gales Point, Manatee. No water nor electricity, and a whole lot of cooking and baking from scratch…baked johnny cakes, creole bread, plantain or banana in ten different ways, fish we caught with our own hands in coconut milk 15 minutes later…oh my!
Modern-day living spawns words like paleo, organic, and vegan. For many a Caribbean folk, a lot of that stuff is simply old-hat and normal. Sure. the house is way hotter and there isn’t the incessant Belize breeze from the Caribbean basin trade winds. But the rest feels familiar, and surprisingly peaceful.
There’s kids playing in the street behind my house in the dusk hours. I’m hoping enough of them gather for me to go start a game of “rounds” or “red-light, green-light.” Here’s my chance to compete–and win–against those 4-inch screens.
Note: Uploading this post from a phone with a scant internet connection doesn’t allow media files. I’ll load them first chance I get. Come back later and take a look.
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