#HurricaneMichael and a Few Thoughts on Gratitude

 


Mexico Beach (Ground Zero) Before Hurricane Michael
(Those are homes and business, packed this tightly for about 7 miles)

I promised one last update on Hurricane Michael’s devastating path through the Florida panhandle, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Some of you across the Atlantic felt Michael’s last, dying winds, too, and hopefully survived with no serious damage. But today, I want to share a few pictures of exactly what we are dealing with here in Florida, because I think images explain the situation far better than words do. Please send your thoughts and prayers to these people who have lost everything, including in some cases, their lives.

After Michael (Shot is lined up as a continuation of the left image)

This is what the area looks like now. The rectangles on the ground everywhere you look are all that’s left of hundreds of homes. Entire neighborhoods gone. In most cases, there isn’t anything left to sort through for belongings. It’s all been blown (or washed) blocks and blocks away! For as far as you can see.

 
Most homes are gone completely. Here’s an entire block that has been leveled.

But even the homes that are still somewhat in place will likely be condemned. (These pictured here were occupied dwellings, that have been blown off their pilings & had the siding ripped off, as well.

This larger house was lifted off the foundations and left atilt.

In other cases, while neighboring house sustained serious damage to roofs and walls, the house in the middle was lifted right off its pilings altogether and deposited blocks away!

Walls were torn off of some homes, and INTERIOR drywall completely torn out.  

The debris piled up in front of the remains of this house probably came from blocks away, carried on the 10+ feet of storm surge.

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to get utility trucks into the area. They estimate that most of these homes will be without power or drinking water for weeks, maybe a month or longer, due to difficulty of access. Those who evacuated are being asked to stay away until it’s safer to return.

This was a block of businesses and shops. Gone. You can see the remains of the pottery shop in the foregound. These were permanent buildings, often concrete block construction. Not street fair tents or the like. The livelihood of all these business owners is pretty much gone.

I dont’ know about you, but I wouldn’t drive down a road like this. Not even on the far side. Yet many first responders have had to brave such conditions in order to help where they can. TEN area hospitals have had to relocate all their patients, due to loss of power and water!

These folks are probably trying to figure out where their house ended up, and if there is anything at all left of their personal belongings. I saw one man being interviewed who said he was able to reach his house, but found it “severely damaged and filled with furniture that wasn’t his!” Imagine.

I want to end with this shot (though I have dozens more) of two men who are happy to see each other still alive! The death toll has so far been much lower than feared, but that’s no consolation to anyone who lost a family member in this storm. And one more reason to try to get the message across: If they tell you to get out, GET OUT! It isn’t worth the risk of ending up under a pile of debris that used to be your home. GO.

I have always said I would never, ever build a house on a beach or a barrier island. I personally think the risk is far too high. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel immensely saddened for those who made a different choice, and have now paid a huge price for it. And truthfully, storms can come inland to wreak havoc, too, as this one did going through the middle of Georgia and northward.

My final thoughts are these. Be grateful for every day you are given. Life is a gift. Use it fully, but wisely. Enjoy the moment, but don’t be foolish. Taking selfies on the edge of a cliff is foolish. Dangling your child over the edge of the alligator enclosure is downright criminally dumb. And refusing to evacuate an area targeted by a hurricane when you’ve been BEGGED to go is just plain stupid. Don’t do any of these things! You have a life to live, things to do, people to love and be loved by. There are already dangers out there you have no control over. Don’t add to them unnecessarily.

Just my thoughts, for what they’re worth.

To you people who live in areas where hurricanes are not a problem, YAY! Count your blessings. And to ALL of you, stay safe, please! And count YOUR blessings, too. Remember to send your thoughts and prayers to the people impacted by Hurricane Michael. Many of them will be months and months trying to put their lives back together again. Thanks!

 

34 thoughts on “#HurricaneMichael and a Few Thoughts on Gratitude

  1. Marcia, thank you for this clear and also very sensitive post about the destruction from the hurricane and the physical and emotional suffering from all those who lost so much.

    I do so agree. May we all be grateful for our lives each day. We have no guarantees.

    Bless all
    Miriam

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re welcome, Miriam. Of all the many hurricanes I’ve seen in my 74 years, this one really got to me. I’ve seen other communities flattened, too, like Homestead (near Miami) which was obliterated by Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992. (Andrew remained the costliest storm to hit Florida for 25 years, until Irma came along last year.) So, I’m thinking it was the immediacy of the images and updates that really struck me with this one. I felt like I was a helpless bystander watching it all come down. And down. And down.

      And for sure, I felt like an ungrateful wretch for complaining about Irma dropping a tree on us, $100,000+ worth of damge or not. WE ARE ALIVE, here! We weren’t even injured. And though it was a slow process, our house has been repaired, and re-roofed, and all that’s still left is the slow process of cleaning up and replanting our yard and garden. I swear, I will never complain about our experience again. (Well, not much, anyway). Everything is relative, after all. 🙂 For that, I will try to remember to be grateful every day! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate the photos. It shows just how BAD the storm was. Ive never been impacted on such a level. I count my blessings. Thanks for the reminder to leave when told to do so. We may lose our material things but save our lives. It’s A FACT!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you appreciated the photos, Darnell. And the truly awful thing is, they don’t come close to showing the magnitude of it all. But it does give you an idea of just how catastrophic the damage was in many areas. Yes, by all means, LEAVE if asked or told. Or begged, like our governor did. Life will be tough if you lose your property, but life will be OVER if you die. It isn’t worth the risk.

      Keep on counting your blessings, for sure. (I’m trying to make a conscious effort to do so every day, myself.) A bit of gratitude is a healthy thing! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A thought provoking post, Marcia. Many thanks for a timely reminder that, as humans, we are only in control of ourselves. Sending all good vibes and thoughts to you and yours and everyone who has been hurt in any way by this destruction.x

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more, Marcia. In the end, life is our most precious gift and we also have to consider the others who put their lives at risk to save us when we’re foolhardy. If it’s a choice between being alive to share with family and friends or saving material possessions, there’s no contest.

    Having said that, like you I’m shocked by the horror facing those who have come back to such unimaginable devastation. Those pictures paint a truly distressing scenes. You worry about things being damaged by storms, about photographs, perhaps, being destroyed, but to lose absolutely everything – all the things that made it a home plus the home itself – it doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Here’s hoping they all find the strength eventually to put it behind them and look forward again.

    Thanks for sharing those and putting the horror of Michael in a perspective that we all can understand.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad it helped make it more understandable, Trish. Words just don’t do it justice, and even the pictures pale in comparison to reality. But for people who’ve never been impacted by a storm like this, I think pictures help make it more relatable. I agree with you on all you’ve said, and especially the bit about putting others at risk to come save you if you choose to stay behind. That is always very frustrating for me to see. Sometimes it isn’t just your own life you are risking by making such bad choices.

      So glad you live where a storm this severe isn’t a yearly threat! (If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be living here, either, much as I love our wildlife and rivers. I’d be in my beloved North Carolina mountains, where I could sit on Rabbit’s rock and ponder the universe!) 😀

      Stay safe, my friend! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Darlene, and thanks for keeping these people in your thoughts and prayers. While this is a very popular beach destination, with some of the most beautiful water you could imagine, it isn’t a fancy, ritzy area at all. Many of the residents have lived here for multiple generations, and It will not be easy for them going forward. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for the warning and the reminder, Marcia. It is devastating to lose everything, but, as you say, there are far worse things that can happen. Sending positive thought to everybody who has suffered through it and best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Though horrifying, those are just things. Life is so much more precious than a home. I feel so bad for those who have been hit with these losses, but even worse for those who gave up their lives to try and preserve what was. {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. As I said to Darnell above, life will be tough if you lose your property, but life will be OVER if you die. It isn’t worth the risk. And the long, slow road to recovery in the area will likely prove too difficult for some. I know the thought of having to start over at my age is a daunting one, and I’m so very grateful we were spared this time around. Thanks for the hugs and well wishes! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Marcia. It must have been quite emotional putting this blog together so we can begin to take in the impact of Storm Michael. I can’t imagine what it must be like to find absolutely everything has been destroyed. I hope that was the last of this year’s big storms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It really was, Mary. I had to stop several times and snivel around for a bit, before I could proceed. The images are just so heartbreaking. But I did want to post, because I know so many people can’t imagine just how awful it really was/is. And I’m with you. I hope that was the last for the year, and that it is a long time before we take any more direct hits like that. Thanks for taking the time to read and ponder exactly how bad a hurricane can really be. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • Glad she still has the option. If she’d stayed in Mexico Beach, she might not.

      It’s hard for people who’ve never seen a hurricane in action to believe it can get as bad as they often do, so I understand why she’d be a doubter, but I’m glad she realizes just how dangerous staying was. Glad she’s okay! 🙂 ❤

      Like

  8. Our homes are precious; even though we know people are more important and you can create a home of sorts again. With all the disasters around the world it is hard not to wonder if ‘the end is nigh’ ! Nature is quick to recover; if no one went back to those devastated areas I think they would return to what they were a few centuries ago. There are so many people who have lost homes and livliehoods around the world we all have to think about where and how we should be living.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d leave Florida, for sure, though more because of the heat than the possibility of a hurricane. I’ve seen too many, and as I said in another post, we’ve had much worse loss of life back in the day when little warning was available. You just woke up one morning and wondered why it was getting so cloudy outside. 😯 I’d NEVER live on a beach, myself, but if I did, I’d sure pay attention to evacuation orders. I honestly expected a much higher loss of life, but the mayor of Mexico Beach was wrong about how many had stayed behind. And THAT is the biggest blessing. Now for them to survive through the long weeks ahead, and decide if they want to start over there, or relocate somewhere less exposed. I’m still following the news reports, as this one really got to me. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a sobering post, Marcia. The photos are devastating and I simply can’t imagine the loss the people in the area have experienced. I’m glad you and yours are safe but, of course, my heart goes out to those who have experienced loss. It has been a wretched season for natural disasters, and Michael is only the latest in a long string going back the last few years. Life is so precious.I hope all those affected find the patience and courage to rebuild.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know it seems far-fetched, but that “string” goes back a lot longer than the last few years. We have had devastation on a much larger scale (lives-wise) for more than 100 years. The Okeechobee hurricane of 1928 killed 2500 people in central Florida, and Hurricane Andrew completely flattened the little town of Homestead in 1992. I don’t remember the death toll, but that was the most expensive hurricane to hit Florida for over 25 years. The deadliest hurricane in the U.S. happened in Galveston, Texas in 1900 and killed somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000 people! (They didn’t have as efficient a system of keeping track as we do today.)

      So these vicious storms aren’t anything new, really. The Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico have been turning them out every year for a very long time. Some years, they pass us by, and others, we get slammed, but not everyone is aware of it. I think the difference is that the immediacy of our news today puts everything in front of viewers in an almost “real-time” manner. Folks all over the country and the world know about events they would never have even heard of a hundred years ago.

      At any rate, even though we’ve had major hurricanes pretty much forever, it doesn’t lessen the impact of these tragedies. I wish there were some way to stop them as soon as they “spawn.” And I know one thing. Mark and I were incredibly lucky we got off so lightly with Hurricane Irma. I’m practicing waking up each day feeling very grateful for the roof over my head, power to run my a/c, and all the water I need for bathing and drinking. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • I remember Andrew, and I know there has been extensive devastation in the past. It just seems within the last few years different parts of the country have been getting hammered with increased frequency. I remember when I was a kid, I rarely heard of hurricanes (except Agnes, a rare June hurricane that devastated the east coast, including the area where I live). It’s the same with tornadoes. We never had them in PA, but now every summer they are a concern. Nothing like in the south, but an F3 did devastate a little town 12 miles down the road from where I work in 2004. A co-worker lost his house that day. I’ll never forget how the sky looked or how the afternoon turned pitch black.
        Weather can be so ruthless.
        Stay safe!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can’t speak for tornados. We don’t get them too often here, unless they are spawned by a hurricane, but the records of hurricane devasation go back centuries, honest. The main differences today include MUCH denser population along beaches and barrier islands, and the fact that as you say, when you were a kid, you rarely “heard of” huricanes. That goes back to today’s never-ending, 24-hours-a-day news cycles that keep these things on the air from inception to the last bit of reconstruction. (They have to fill that time with something.)

          One other factor to consider is just because we have a hurricane season where none of the big ones make landfall, or do so in relatively remote places, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there in the Atlantic. Every single year, dozens of storms form, build up strength, and move across the waters. We usually get pretty high up in the alphabet names during each season, but they may or may not hit land. So far this year, there have been 14 named storms, 7 of which became hurricanes, but you don’t hear much, if anything, about the ones that pass on by.

          Last year, there were 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, 4 of which were truly notable. But, this isn’t all that unusual, and actually TIES with the number of storms from clear back in 1936.

          My only point is that it seems as though storms are worse than ever, but the records don’t bear that out. Damages (and sometimes death tolls) are higher, because of denser populations and the cost to rebuild today compared to decades ago. But frequency of storms, including really bad ones, doesn’t seem to be a whole lot different. We just know about them in more detail, and watch the suffering in real time, and it hits us harder. And probably scares us more. There was a certain measure of comfort in not knowing what was happening to people in other places, I think. An “ignorance is bliss” sort of thing.

          You really should write a book about one of these long ago disasters. The Galveston hurricane was simply unbelievable. In those days, you just woke up and discovered the wind ripping the roof off of your house. Thousands of people were trapped on that island and washed out to sea. It would make a really scary tale. Hmmm. Maybe a ghost lingering today with a story to dig into? 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

            • I heartily second that! NO ONE needs another hurricane this year, or any other year, for that matter! And while we’re dreaming of perfect weather, could we PLEASE get some relief from this heat? This is why every year of my life, I’ve been LONGING to go to the mountains in October. GAH. Someone promised me fall would be here soon. Yeah. This year, it’s supposed to be on a Tuesday. 😉 😀

              Meantime, I’ll be hoping for that that book. YOU could do it up right, for sure! 😀 ❤

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this post and the pictures, Marcia. We in the UK have no idea what it must be like to be in the path of a hurricane — television reports give an inkling, but I have to say your picture brought home far more clearly the utter devastation and chaos Michael left in its wake. I will try never again to moan about the weather. The storms and gales Michael sent us with nothing compared to what you folks have to contend with . We do indeed need to count our blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad it helped put the storm in perspective. Truly, this was a terrible one, and I am shocked that more people didn’t lose their lives. I expected triple digits when they first reported that 285 people had refused to leave Mexico Beach. Thankfully, that number was incorrect, and I believe all have been accounted for there. Yes, there were fatalities, but nothing like they could have been. SO glad most people there made the right choice, and got out of harm’s way.

      The little town itself will be a long time coming back, though. SO much to rebuild, from roads, power grids, water, and then residences and businesses. Some people will probably not return, but I’ll bet many will find a way to salvage their lives there.

      And yes, I’m learning never to complain about any storm I walk away from. I was so upset at all the damage Irma did to us last year–and we are inland, too, and not in a flood zone–but I have seen what it could have been, and I’m humbled and grateful! Glad all is well with you! 🙂 ❤

      Like

    • Thanks, Lynn.I’m glad I was able to help people in other areas understand just what folks in the panhandle region are dealing with. If you haven’t been through it, it’s pretty hard to imagine. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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