The Gift That Keeps on Giving – #HurricaneIrma

In case you’ve been wondering why I’m still not back to blog business as usual, five weeks after Irma’s dastardly sweep through the islands and Florida, it’s because my life is still upside down. The good news is, progress is being made. Slowly, but still. ANY progress is a good thing. That’s my story, an’ I’m stickin’ to it!

For those who are curious about what happens when a gargantuan tree falls on your garage, smashes through your roof and attic, and lands on your vehicles, here’s the latest installment. You’ll have to scroll back a few posts to see the pictures from the earlier stages, of course, but this week’s phase dealt with cleaning out every single item in the garage and attic.  It was dangerous, back-breaking work, so of course, you call in the strongest clean-up crew you can find. Ta-da!

I will say, I was surprised when I met our contractor’s clean up crew, but they were a force to be reckoned with! Unstoppable for two full days of dirty work in 90 degree heat, they jumped right in. Even when the garage door was taken apart, revealing this, they didn’t hesitate:

Mark stayed home to help direct, since determining which things were junk and which weren’t is an art form only HE has mastered. This is about the halfway point, with all wall shelves on the left already removed, and much of the attic stuff taken down.

These ladies not only carried a ton of stuff out of that mess, they cleaned every salvageable piece before packing into the big, carefully labeled boxes. (Did I mention they were awesome?)

Then, they started stacking things in the 20’x10′ pod, from the back, all the way to the front, top to bottom, until not another thing would fit!

Keep in mind that every trip into that garage was risky. Note the large box hanging down through the broken rafters. Those continued to slide down and fall through from the night of the hurricane until the last one was retrieved.  Some of the boxes contained Christmas decorations, and were relatively light. Some, like this one, contained auto parts, and were not!

Shovels and wheelbarrows were employed, as well as brooms, and brute strength.

Progress WAS made! (After two long days!)

And eventually, the garage was emptied.

What wasn’t salvageable ended up in my new front lawn ornament, a 16’x8′ construction dumpster, which, I might add, is full. It will have to be emptied before demo and repairs even begin.

Yes! Both the 20′ long pod and the 16′ long dumpster are full. Of things that were once in this garage! Do not ask me how they all got squeezed in there. I’m only responsible for the Christmas items in the attic. The rest were all Mark’s. I swear it. But I also swear that all that stuff isn’t going back! Nope. We will be adding a new shed or other storage container in the backyard, way over in the north forty, where it will never fall on anyone again. Probably.

Next step? Demolition of roof and rafters, and portions of the concrete block walls. Stuff has to come down before it can be rebuilt.

Meanwhile, rain pours straight through the torn up tarp, but there’s no longer anything in the garage it can damage. And the yellow tape now replaces the trashed garage door, since there’s nothing left to steal. And besides, what Irma did here (and so many other places) is a CRIME if I ever saw one!

Next on my mind–how I’m going to decorate the pod and the dumpster for the holidays. I’m thinking paint the pod red and put our yard reindeer in front of it, and voila. Santa’s Very Big Sleigh! But the dumpster is more problematic. Perhaps I should just string lights all over it? 😀 😀 😀

Ya gotta keep on laughing, you know. Otherwise, you might as well just give up and quit. 😉

65 thoughts on “The Gift That Keeps on Giving – #HurricaneIrma

    • Sorry I didn’t make it clearer. This is the contractor’s professional clean up (or “pack out”) crew. Haven’t seen a neighbor yet, except the morning after the storm. But these ladies were fantastic, and worked SO hard. I had my doubts when they first got here, but I learned pretty quickly they knew just what to do and were able to do it! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • They really were, Rosie. Everyone our contractor has sent us has been outstanding, and fully committed to doing a thorough job. They guys who rescued our cars, and these ladies, in particular, deserve full kudos! I was SO impressed!

      Liked by 2 people

    • The first thing I said when I looked out the door and saw the crew Doug Miller had sent was, “WOMAN POWER! Yay!!” Men might have been stronger, though these gals weren’t slouches, but even Mark said no way men would have been so meticulous with the cleaning, packing, and labeling. They were awesome!!

      Yes, it feels good to have that much done, and all the wet, moldy stuff thrown away. There IS a foot of mold growing on the legs to the workbench, but we are going to let the demo team take that apart and toss it in their newly emptied dumpster. No room in it now. 😯

      Someday, this will all be history, and I’ll be laughing about it. Or not. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • If I smile any harder, someone will likely have me put away somewhere! 😯 😉 More good things happened today, but I don’t have time to post right now. Later! 😀


    • I can report that I took a pretty severe smack to the gob, myownself. 😀 And every time I look out the window, it happens all over again. 😯 But we are, at least, making progress! Woohoo.


  1. OMG! What a job. Did you consider going on a tropical holiday until it was all finished? Greta you didn´t have to do it yourself. But it is still disruptive. Life goes on and you are still laughing so all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! What an ordeal this has been for you. I am so sorry you have had to go through this😣 i am glad too see that it is coming along and you are making progress towards getting back to normal. Did you Have to have your new car replaced? I know you said it wasn’t damaged but i can’t believe they didn’t have to do anything to it. I hope that things willmove along quickly now and relieve you of the worry of this whole issue. Darnded ole Irma. Take care of yourself.❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • The new Honda has $5600 worth of cosmetic damage. It will be in the shop at least 3 to 4 weeks for repairs and repainting. The VW, which is actually worth more than double what the 2017 Honda is, came through without a scratch. Much to Mark’s relief. 🙂 The garage, however, has suffered at LEAST $40,000 worth of damage to roof and concrete walls. The entire roof has to be replaced, and some of that will be depreciated, of course, but the repair estimate currently stands at the $40,000 price. Gulp. And it will take weeks and weeks. Probably into next year. 😦

      Thanks for your concern and well wishes, and all the love! I appreciate it very much. It’s going to be a bumpy road, but we WILL come out the other side! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my! What a fabulous job those ladies have done!
    I’m just away on holiday, about to take a ferry out into the Atlantic with Hurricane Ophelia on her way in!
    Hoping to be safely ensconced on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides before she arrives!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, stay safe, Debby!! I shudder when I think about hurricanes now. (Okay, I shuddered before, but now I know first hand how even a smallish hit can cause major upheaval.) I’ll be thinking about you, while I’m cleaning up yard debris. Still haven’t made a huge dent in it, after 5 weeks, and more than 30 cans of sticks and twigs and leaves, leaves, leaves. 😦

      Have a wonderful, hurricane-free vacation! (Holiday!) 🙂 ❤


  4. Wow! What an incredible team and they achieved so much in a short time. The difference between the first photos and the last ones showing your empty garage are amazing. You must be so glad progress continues to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They were just amazing, Mary, and never slowed down for two straight days! In such heat, too. I was so impressed, and Mark worked unbelievably hard, too. His clothes were SOAKED all the way through! Between them, they really accomplished miracles out there, and yes, I’m very happy about the progress they made. Now, no more stuff is in danger of being ruined, and it’s ready for the next step. Yay!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well Marcia you seem to be handling it well. Think of it this way. After this is all over you’ll have the cleanest, best organized garage around. We could use those ladies for our garage. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Lori! Nice to see you here. And that was exactly what I told Mark tonight. This is an opportunity to finally get organized, like we’ve been talking about forever, and I hope to use it as the starting point for a lot of jobs we’ve been putting off. And believe me, these ladies would have your garage sorted out in no time! What a great group of hard-working women! 🙂 ❤


    • Five, actually. Mark worked right alongside these ladies, not only directing them as to what to keep and what to toss, but shoveling up debris and carrying the really heavy stuff, like boxes of car parts and his workbench tools. He never stopped, and those ladies kept telling me how impressed they were with the job he was doing. (I don’t think they’re used to much help from homeowners).

      Me, I was trying to stay out of their way. With my poor vision, that garage was a death trap. I nearly fell and/or walked into broken rafters several times. I finally realized (with Mark’s encouragement) that I could be more use working on indoor projects, and got out of their way.

      But yes, there was an unbelievable mess to be dealt with, and trust me when I say photos do NOT do it justice. Share away, Kass. And thanks! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, Robbie, but I never met these ladies before. They were a professional “pack-out” crew, sent by my contractor to get the garage and attic emptied, so demo could begin. I was astonished to see the crew was all women, but it didn’t take long to understand why. They were amazing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • In normal circumstances, we would rely on the same, but this is a $40,000 insurance-covered, demolition and reconstruction job, and clean-up crews are covered by the insurance claim. Plus, it was way too dangerous for me to ask neighbors or anyone for help. Liability issues waiting to happen. By the contractor taking responsibility for getting our cars out and clearing the way for construction to begin, we didn’t have to worry about anyone being injured and consequently being liable for hospital costs, etc. This entire project is now in the hands of our contractor, so he will make arrangements like these until we are ready to unload that Pod and move back in. And I’m quite happy to let him, at this point. 🙂


    • Well, I sorta figured out after a day or two that crying and tearing my hair out only left me balding and miserable. 😀 Finding things to laugh at is better. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have my moments. It’s just all so . . . MUCH. But compared to so many storm victims (and the fire victims in California), it’s pretty much nothing, and I’m sure those folks wish they could trade places with us. Blogging about the process is very therapeutic, I’ll say that. Thanks for following along, and offering your kind words and support. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! That was utterly mind-boggling.
    Those photos were jaw-dropping.
    I did have to laugh about your new “lawn ornament” (your sense of humor always shines through).
    I will be in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area next week. We’re planning a jaunt down to Sanibel to visit relatives.
    You really are adaptable. And a huge shout-out to your clean-up crew!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you have a wonderful time in Ft. Myers. Try to get over to Sanibel Island, and take a drive through the Ding Darling sanctuary. LOTS of great birds and wildlife to be seen there, and usually close up enough to photograph. If you haven’t been before, there’s an elevated dirt road (impounded dike, really) that runs throughout, so you don’t even have to get out of your car, if you don’t want to. Water on both sides, and you can get great pics right out your car window. 😀

      I don’t know how adaptable I am, but I do try to find the humor where I can. (Sometimes I have to dig deep.) 😀

      BTW, my jaw drops every time I look back at the photos, too, even though they don’t begin to show how bad it really was.

      Have fun, Mae! We’ll see you when you get back! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a job Marsh. I”m so glad you got the women’s cleaning team to get the garage cleaned out. Half the battle is underway! Slowly but surely it will get done. And yes, you said it, if you don’t learn where to look for the humor you could go stark raving mad, lol. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Marcia, I’m glad to read things are on the mend. I’m still amazed no one was seriously hurt. Gotta love the people who have helped you. We’re hearing about this generosity out here where all the fires are (we are 90 miles from the fires), but we’ve breathed our share of smoke and ash. My nephew was called down from Bend, Oregon to help with the fires. Thanks for updating us (enjoying Harbinger right now)!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Terri! While these were all pros sent by our contractor, they were still so wonderful and inspiring. They went the extra mile every time, with smiles on their faces, and heartfelt concern. I love every one of them now. They are ALL my heroes! 😀

      And so happy to hear you are reading Harbinger. I LOVE the legend of the Black Dog, and knew it had to be part of my mountain series, especially with a character like Little Rabbit to notice it. Hope you keep on enjoying it right to the last page. I’m now putting together my What If list for WRR #4. I think it’s time Rabbit learns about the mysterious Brown Mountain lights. I’m quite sure there’s a reason he needs to see that unexplained phenomena. 😀 We’ll see how it goes.

      Thanks again for all your friendship and support and encouragement. It means the world to me! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Incredible! And to think that this is happening to homeowners all over Florida, Texas, Louisiana, even places further north – and is STILL waiting to begin in Puerto Rico and the Islands. Mother Nature is sure mad at us for what we’ve done to her planet, isn’t she? Thank goodness your clean up was also covered in the repair costs. Let’s hear it for the Ladies (and the Contractor who hired them).

    Courage Camille, as they say in the theatre. I’m impressed you’ve found time to blog at ALL, actually.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your support and encouragement, Madelyn! Blogging about all of this is my therapy! 🙂 Clean up is still ongoing in many places, for sure, and for people who have suffered far worse than we have. Yes, this is stressful and frustrating at times, and some of this expense will come out of our pocket, but we still have a home, and we weren’t hurt in any way. Even our four cats and two ancient dachshunds came through unscathed. I can’t say the same for our yard and garden, but that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. Except for a few water stains on our ceilings here and there, the living portion of our house is fine. We have a LOT to be grateful for.

      I will say I’ve learned a few things as we progress through this process. One of them is that stress is NOT conducive to creativity. At least not for me. I haven’t been able to let myself travel to the mountains in my mind, so I can watch (and write down) what happens to my characters there. I’m too firmly anchored in the here and now, dealing with the physical aspects of getting this all underway. But, this, too, shall pass, and life will return to something more akin to normal, I’m sure.

      Thanks again for stopping by today! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • It may well be the stress, but I’m thinking it’s more likely to be exhaustion and lack of time that is holding back the work on your fiction. All things in good time. Right now you have priorities that MUST be attended to. Once you have had a week (or more) when things are back to the new normal, things will begin to flow again I’m sure.

        Your perspective on all of this is inspiring – and I’m relieved to read that you all came through it whole and healthy, with a dry place to live.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, you sure won’t get any argument from me on the exhaustion thing! I’m running on 4 to 5 hours sleep a night right now, once in a while hitting about 6-1/2. I wake up worrying and can’t go back to sleep, so it’s likely a combination of factors at play. But as soon as I’m assured everything is going to be covered, and work commences, I think I’ll feel much better. I do expect demo of the garage roof and some portions of the walls to begin by the first of next week, if all goes well. So, at least things are moving forward, and that’s a big relief. Thanks for the encouraging words, Madelyn. I really appreciate it! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            • It looks like some of the insurance stuff is beginning to get sorted out, and things are starting to move forward. Good news from the contractor and insurance companies today, so I’m very relieved. This should be a major help in being able to relax and get my sleep patterns back on track. I know that will help. Plus I have a private club to visit with Saturday for a reading, Q&A, and signing, and that ALWAYS makes me feel great. I just love meeting new readers, and chatting about books. I’m thinking next week is going to be much, much better than the last six! I’ll be SO glad to see work commencing! Hopefully, I’ll be back to writing, as well, because nothing in my life makes me feel as good as that. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

                • We will be caught up in the demo and reconstruction/reroofing until sometime next year, I’m sure. And they JUST got the huge tree out of our front yard this past week. The garden is still flattened, and so much has to be dug up and replaced, it’s crazy. It’s a slow process, especially in the heat we’ve been having. I can only work in 90 degree weather for fifteen minutes or so at a time, before I have to come in and cool off. So, yep. Still digging out, but at least I think we are going to start actual demo this coming week, and that will feel like big progress. I’ll be posting an update tomorrow, if possible, and you’ll see some of what I’m talking about. 😯 Thanks for the positive energy! And the book signing/meet and greet was WONDERFUL! Will be posting on that, too, very soon. Great ladies, and lots of laughs. 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

  10. What an amazing crew. Happy to see the clean-up going well and know that you’re safe. Also, that your sense of humor is still intact. Wondering “how I’m going to decorate the pod and the dumpster for the holidays.” 😀 Be well and take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

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