Friday, April 21, 2006

Hurricane Season Is Approaching!!!

No. Not the college team. Real, wind blowing, damage causing hurricanes.

I live in Florida about thirty or forty miles south of Kennedy Space Center. This part of the state has historically been a pretty good place for living in Florida and not get too many hurricanes. But in 2004, we got the northern wall of both Jeanne and Francis, whose eyes came onshore within five miles of one another. They did a whole lot of damage in the area, but not on the level of what Katrina did in LA, MS, and AL.

Still, all in all, almost every house had damage. Blue tarps were everywhere covering people's roofs. Fences down. Some homes and buildings flattened.

But for myself and my family, we were extremely thankful we didn't have more damage than we did.

About half of all our shingles were blown off, evenly distributed from over the whole roof. We had leaks of course in several areas to our ceiling. The aluminum/screen enclosure over and around our swimming pool had all the screens blown out and a couple of the aluminum bars with them. Our wooden privacy fence was blown down. What the first hurricane didn't knock down, the second one finished. And we had a big, beautiful palm tree snap in half and the broken part laid over on our roof in such a way as to not do any roof damage (phew!).

And the one that broke our hearts was our mango tree. We had a gi-normous mango tree beside our home that lost many main limbs but was salvageable, then the second hurricane hit and finished it off. We had the rest of the palm and mango cut down and the stumps ground out. FYI, mango tree limbs are very, very brittle. But our mango tree produced huge amounts of fruit every year. We would give mangos to anyone, I would take them to work for coworkers, and we ate a bunch ourselves in cobblers and such. We do miss that mango tree.

But overall, we fared better than many and were and are thankful that we only had what damage we did. The worst part for us was that they came at a time of year where nine days (for each hurricane) without electricity and air conditioning made it difficult to sleep, and comfort was a forgotten commodity.

We were also fortunate to get our roof repaired and reshingled in only three months. But everything else has been delayed.

At this time it is now over a year and a half since the hurricanes hit us, and we are finally getting our pool enclosure repaired and rescreened. They should finish the work this weekend. WooHoo! Now we can sit out back without getting eaten by mosquitoes. We need to pressure wash all the accumulated grime and mold and stuff from everything being open to the elements. Leaves in the pool, you can't stay ahead of the things blown in there.

We still have to find a licensed person to repair our inside ceilings and drywall. Even at this date, all of the reputable companies won't even come out to give us an estimate. They are too busy and already have a year or more of work lined up. Many companies turn off their answering machines and don't answer the phone. They have so much business.

So, if this area which was hit hard but not catastrophically is still so backed up it's still hard to get work done a year and a half later, then how can people expect things to be getting back to normal in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama?

Florida still has thousands of families in FEMA trailers a year and a half after the hurricanes.

How can people expect New Orleans to be getting back to normal yet? I see and hear all these reports from New Orleans, which is treated like the only place decimated by Katrina, and the attitude is, why isn't more done yet?

I just think it's easy for people to watch their TVs and say stuff like that, but the reality is that there are not enough people and resources to have things fixed up quickly. Like I said, we didn't get it like they did and we still have trouble getting work done, how can anyone expect the Katrina damage repairs be farther along than they are?

I mention all of this now because hurricane season is just over a month away from beginning. We are already starting to buy supplies. Bottled water, long lasting foods that don't need cooking. Batteries. We buy them a bit at a time, over time and build up a week's cushion.

We will be ready, and if anyone out there lives within one hundred miles of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, start buying your supplies. There is really no excuse for the need of water and food we saw after Katrina. It's the old American way of saying to ourselves 'It won't happen to me,' but it does eventually. Every year we build up supplies over time and when the season arrives, we're as ready as we can be. And even if we are displaced from a flattened or flooded home we each will have backpacks full of water and granola bars and such to get us through 'til help can arrive.

One thing I couldn't help but notice just after Katrina hit. On the news, they flew their reporters in and people were cussin' and screamin' for food and water, but there they were smoking cigarettes. I almost couldn't believe how many of the people they would show freaking out to the reporters were smoking cigarettes. I couldn't help but wonder why they chose to vacate the flooded areas with cartons of cigarettes instead of bottles of water and boxes of pop-tarts or something. If they could afford cigarettes at two or three dollars a pack, they could have bought enough bottles water and granola bars to last a few days.

Yeah. They got blasted. It was a disaster of epic proportions, but the people there had done NOTHING to prepare themselves except make sure they had plenty of smokes.

Hopefully everyone that could possibly be hit by a hurricane this year will stock up on a few basic things to get them through until help can arrive.

That is all.

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