Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 1

10:00PM, Sunday, September 10, 2017

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night . . .”

. . . when Hurricane Irma decided to pay a call. The knock (on the roof) occurred at about ten o’clock, well before the witching hour, but not before the witch–that being Irma–decided it was the perfect time to say hello.

When we answered the door, we found a tower of greenery on our front steps and got a face full of driving rain, as well. Mark figured he’d go out through the garage, instead. Upon opening the door between the laundry room and the double garage, however, he was brought up short by a pretty grim sight. Eeek! (That bright light is from a fluorescent ceiling fixture laying on the car, because astonishingly, we never once lost power!)

It seems that scamp, Irma, had chosen to drop a tree on our house, ripping a hole through the garage roof, rafters, and attic floor, and dropping a large percentage of all three on top of our 2017 Honda–with a few goodly sized bits and pieces landing on Mark’s vintage 1967 VW van, Victor Willie. Lucky us. Over the course of a week, btw, the damage worsened as the tree settled and boxes of stored items fell out of the attic and onto the cars. Plus, rain continued to pour into the garage off and on for days.

While Victor Willie may have sustained mostly cosmetic damage, the Honda could very well be a total loss. We don’t know yet, as we can’t open the mangled garage door and actually examine them–something that “Jake from State Farm” is extremely worried about, if the number of phone calls are any indication. Alas, Jake will have to wait to inspect our cars until our Homeowner’s engineer or adjustor shows up to take a look at the structural damage and help us get a General Contractor. Someone will have to oversee builders, electricians, plumbers, and roofers for the next few months, as repairs get underway. 😦

Meanwhile, my decrepit old PT Cruiser, which we left outside as the least valuable of the vehicles, didn’t receive a scratch, and is our only transportation now. 😦 Go figger!

As we watched daily for a week, the weight of the fallen tree settled lower and lower onto the garage, causing more damage to structure and contents with every tick of the clock.

Tick . . .

Tick . . .

TICK . . .

The View from Our Front Door, Down the Drive to the Street.

The View From the Street UP the Drive to the Front Door.

The View of the  Garage, Buried Under Our Neighbor’s  Laurel Oak

The View of the Rest of the Tree Between Our House and Our Neighbor

The Continuing to Worsen Mess Inside the Garage.

And Last,
The View From the Back Yard Looking Over the Fence at The Downed Tree

After almost a week of looking at all of this, and no response from the insurance company (which was slammed by even more severely damaged homes all over the state), I was beginning to feel a wee bit stressed. Read, tearing my hair out, and unable to sleep, for fear the tree would continue to settle lower and lower. Was there no one left in the state who could help prevent more damage, and/or bodily injury, as things continued to collapse?

Sound the Bugles! The Cavalry Arrives!


38 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 1

    • Not to worry, Judith. I am taking any “Likes” of this post to mean, “We see what you’re dealing with, and we’re in your corner.” And maybe that the “Liker” is wishing us good luck going ahead. 🙂 And this series of photos and comments are my therapy, believe me, as I try to work through my feelings about this. We believe the final repairs, re-roofing of the house, etc, won’t be finished until some time in 2018. 😯 So, a lot of work and stress ahead that has to be dealt with somehow. And stay tuned for the pics of the tree being removed. An astonishing event, that the neighbors set up folding chairs on their lawns to watch! 😯

      It WAS very frightening, and the longest night of my life, since the winds raged all night long. (And the storm had actually weakened greatly before it reached us, too. But it still packed a punch!)

      Thanks so much for your continued thoughts and “vibes!” I appreciate it very much. 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks!! And since my fictional town of Riverbend is right up the road from here, there could definitely be a hurricane coming their way. But probably not until I gain some perspective on this one. 🙂 You are right about the insurance folks. They cover the whole state and are no doubt buried under paperwork and claims from the Keys and south Florida. We are surely low on the priority list.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Olga. I’m taking the Likes to mean you’re on my Team. 😀 I’m not even worrying about repairs yet, but we NEED to get access to the vehicles, and since the garage door is smashed, we can only see the back of them from the small door. No way to tell what’s what, and no way to get them out. So, I’m eager for someone to show up and get the repairs underway. Part 2 will deal with the good folks who got the tree off the house. Stay tuned! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sheesh! 30′ tall trees should be moved 35′ away from houses. 60′ trees should be moved 65′ feet from houses. 🙂
    Didn’t anyone have a chainsaw?
    Glad I live on the East Coast. My house only got 1″ of water in kitchen, dining room, and hallway. No-o-o– problemo.
    A ’67 VW van??!! Were ya’ll at Woodstock? (My younger sister was.) (I went to Atlanta II.)
    Okay, I’ve consoled enough here.
    Peace out!

    *I’m kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Easy mathematical formula you have there, GLM. But one of the reasons we bought this house was because of the lovely, shady trees clustered all over the yard. Sadly, over 14 years, most of them have reached the end of their lifespans and been removed. This one, however, in our neighbor’s yard, and I never asked him to measure the distance. 🙂

      No, neither Mark nor I were at Woodstock, but he most definitely loves that van. And he’s been offered a blinkin’ fortune for it, primer gray and red paintjob and all. (I immortalized it in Swamp Ghosts, giving it to Lester Purvis to drive. 😀 )

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m actually terrible at math. And, my neighbors snidely refer to my backyard (on our small lake) as “The Jungle.” I wish i could add photos herein-before and after 4 hurricanes.
        Glad you’re both okay. Sorry about the Magic Bus. (I’m more of a ’67 Corvette fi-427 Stingray kind of a guy.) I hope it can be fixed and restored again. I intend to read Swamp Ghosts.
        I hope you might consider glancing at my second novel, Ocala Spring. You’ll like it.
        So, as a former electrical contractor, let me know if you have any questions. Heck, for a steak dinner, I could be persuaded to go camping in your area, and give free advice-minus cost of said steak. Ha!
        Ir-regardless, hope you can recover everything.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hopefully, the Magic Bus will only have cosmetic damage. Most of the roof is on top of the new Honda. 😦 But at least that’s replaceable. 1967 VWs are hard to find, and VERY costly. As far as cars in general, I really don’t care (except for a brief love affair with TR3’s back in my misspent youth). All I ask is that a car take me from Point A to Point B with reliable efficiency and good air conditioning. After that, I’m not interested, much.

          I will check out Ocala Spring, and if you do read Swamp Ghosts, I hope you enjoy it. Some creepy stuff happening there. 🙂

          Thanks for the well wishes, and have a great day. I’m going to go back to peering out the window, hoping to see the adjustor show up, even unannounced. 🙂


    • Don’t feel bad, Dian. I have definitely been in at least shouting distance of maniac! Several times. 😀 And yes, we were very lucky to be unhurt, but oh, what a long ordeal lies ahead, yet. Just gotta remember to take it one day at a time, for sure. Thanks for your kind words!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Why didn’t you tell me you had a 12 window VW or is it a 23 window version either way a wonderful car. Oh I forgot about the other part OH my God I had no idea it was that bad. I would have come over with my chain saw and young people get you a better walkway and would have gotten some of the weight off of the cars especially the VW. I thought you weren’t going to wait with your surprises any more. Let me know if I can do anything for either of you. I have a tree guy who took out all of my fallen trees last year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thought you knew about Mark’s old van. It’s the last year they made the split windshield, but it doesn’t have the sunroof. It’s worth a lot, I know, but he’d have to be living in it, eating dogfood out of a can before he’d part with it. 😉

      As for the tree, a chain saw wouldn’t have done it. It took a crane, a bobcat, and a 15-man crew to lift this off the house and cut it up. But I do appreciate your willingness to come help. And I promise to call you if I think of anything else you can do. Honest!! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        • Well, to be fair, they did use chain saws to cut up the tree, but only after each huge piece was removed from the house. And they had REALLY big chain saws, and not an 18″ one like Mark’s. 🙂 The garage is attached to the house, and parts of the tree were all the way across our roof, but the heavy stuff was on the garage, and propped up by more huge limbs resting on the ground, which supported a lot of the weight. The way it was balanced would have made it way too dangerous to cut up without the crane to lift each branch, or at least keep it from crashing down as it was severed from the main trunk. What a process!

          Thanks for the well wishes, and yep. Patience is in short supply, even though it’s the one thing I need the MOST of right now. This is a learning experience, for sure. 🙂 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, I’m sure of that. Heck, I’m already finding things to laugh about. Otherwise, I’d curl up in bed and stay there for a month or two. I’m expecting repairs to be ongoing clear into next year, what with how backed up all the contractors are, and the fact that in addition to a rebuilt garage, we will need a new roof. Eeep. But, truly, compared to what other storm victims are enduring right now, I have no right to complain at all. (Doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll STOP, of course. Just that I don’t really have a right to! 😀 ) Look . . . laughing already! 😀

              Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing, jenanita! Knowing others are thinking about us and sending us positive energy and/or prayers from all over the world has been the biggest comfort you could imagine. The only thing better would have been for this to NOT have happened, but that ship has sailed. So, comfort is GREAT!! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Every time I see that darned tree my heart sinks. My goodness it’s a miracle you were unharmed. So sorry that you have had so much ongoing mess, and damage plus insurance problems to deal with. Sending you a ton of hugs hoping that they will lift your spirits Marcia. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Marje! I really appreciate it. It is going to be a real interruption in our lives for some time, but we will get through it. You don’t get to be my age without developing a few coping skills, even though mine often include wailing and moaning, and shaking my fist at the sky. 😀 But, once that’s done, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and tackle whatever needs to be done. Right now, that mostly involves a lot of time spent on the phone, on HOLD, waiting, waiting, waiting. And then, sitting around the house waiting some more. 😀 And yes, the virtual hugs lifted my spirits, thanks!! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        • Glad I made you smile, Marje. Frankly, I don’t know how people with no sense of humor survive in this world. Knowing I will eventually find the humor in a situation is what keeps me going, even though sometimes, it’s a stretch. 😀 But truly, everything is relative. This is a pain in the behind, but when I see what other storm victims are enduring, I’m ashamed to complain so much. (Apparently not ashamed enough to actually STOP complaining, you understand. But still . . . ) Gratitude and laughter are the things that keep us going when times are rough. 😉 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Marcia, what a time of it you’re having. I never thought about the tree sinking further down and causing more damage. Did you manage to rescue your dancing ladies orchid? Sending virtual hugs.
    You will make use of this material in your books one day. Writers tend to squirrel away disasters in mental filing cabinets to be put to use later.
    Wishign you all the best and looking forward to part two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, not only was the weight of the tree continuing to bear down, but rain was pouring through the attic in a veritable waterfall, soaking more and more drywall, wood, and boxed possessions stored there. Eeeeek.

      We got the dancing ladies orchid out of the pond, but at least two-thirds of it is probably dead. Completely brown and rotting. I do think I can cut away several stems and start it over, but the huge, wonderful plant that it was is no more, I’m afraid. It will take at least ten years to reach that size again, but at least I still have some of it. 🙂

      And that little town of Riverbend just might get hit by a hurricane some day, when I can think about it without getting upset, anyway. 😀 Thanks for your continued well wishes, Mary! I’m so grateful!! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marcia, you certainly felt some of Irma’s wrath. One thing I’ve learned living in Florida for the past 22 years is that we have some tough people that bounce back quickly from these situations. When the storm his us on Monday the 11th, it started dying down by about 9AM. That was when my neighbors (with the generator) knocked on the door with mugs of coffee for us and said, “drink your coffee and then we clean up”. By late afternoon, we had cleared the carnage and we were grilling on their back patio having a great time. The power came back on by the time we went home. Other parts of Jacksonville were not so lucky, so the next thing to do was to get out and look for others that needed help. That’s the good that emerges in Floridians and many Americans when times are tough. I’m currently (in my day job) working for a large northern electric utility as a client. They sent 2,000 workers to Florida to help get power reconnected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you escaped injury or a lot of damage, Don. Yep, we’re tough, and it is absolutely amazing how many people from all over reach out to those who need help. We never lost power, but I know some very nearby areas that had none for days and days. My husband took our generator in to loan someone from work, because hers was down for several days. He was one of very few in the building who had power last week.

      Tragedies either bring out the best in people, or the worst, and it’s always good to see news of those who are rising above and beyond the call to help wherever they can. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Marsh, I hit like but don’t like it at all. I can’t even imagine your devastation – first the disaster, but then having to look at it daily with hands tied. I pray your nightmares will end soon. And thank goodness you still have one vehicle. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have a great deal to be thankful for . . . like the fact that that wretched tree fell on the garage, and not on us! I guess that means we aren’t done doing all the things we’re meant to do, yet. 🙂 And for that, I’m very grateful. And the good news is that we finally got a call from an adjustor last night, who told Mark she’d be here next Friday. I plan to call her back to see if she can come sooner, since we had a torrential downpour last night, which tore the tarp, and ended with a huge sagging swimming pool’s worth of water, where the tarp was laid across the big hole. If that bursts, there’s another flood inside the garage.

      With any luck, maybe she can shift her schedule and get here sooner, so we can avoid more damage. And if she doesn’t, it’s on them, because they’ll at least have been warned. (Mark was dozing when she called, and barely awake enough to take down her information, or he would have told her then. He was in that after-dinner stupor that men on a couch can somehow achieve, no matter what is going on around them. You know the one I mean, I’m sure. 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

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