Central Florida’s Ordeal is OVER!

Though Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia are still in danger, Hurricane Dorian is officially crossing the state line and no longer menacing us here in central Florida! Hallelujah! I was beginning to think being stalked by a Deadly Turtle was the new normal. And I confess, I’m exhausted from all the preparations and the stress of not knowing for five long days whether we would take a hit or not. 

We did have some tropical storm force winds here during the night and throughout the morning, but let’s assess the damage, in comparison to what Irma did two years ago.

Here’s what Hurricane Irma left us on September 10, 2017:

Yes, our house is under there.

Another view, showing the size of the massive trunk of this tree.

The roof is lifted off the garage and the lintel is broken.

Top of the garage, with rafters poking up through the  roof. (The other ends of the rafters are poking into the seriously damaged Honda, which  was holding up the attic.

See? A good add for the Honda, which they were able to repair because, believe it or not, the frame didn’t buckle. (Even under the combined weight of our attic and contents, the garage roof itself, and the weight of a tree with a trunk 5 feet in diameter!

There are tons more pictures of the smashed gardens, the broken trellises and lamp posts, fence damage, and of course, the entire roof ruined. But enough about Irma.

Now let’s take a look at what Hurricane Dorian wrought:

Yep. That’s it. A dead moss monster next to the driveway. 

Seems like an unbelievable amount of labor and stress just to be ready for this, but the good news is, we can clean it up in about 30 seconds. (We’re still working on yard clean-up and replanting from Irma!) 

In all seriousness, it could just as easily have been as bad as or worse than Irma. Catastrophic, even. So it’s always better to over-prepare, and not need it, than to find yourself under-prepared and in danger. We’ll do it again the next time we’re menaced and we will pray all we end up with is a dead moss monster in the front yard.

One Giant Leap for Vankind – #HurricaneIrma

Today was the FIRST day I’ve been able to take a deep breath since September 10! We found a general contractor who said he thought he could help us rescue our cars. Others had said no way. They’d wait until the insurance company gave them the go ahead to begin demo and repairs. Weeks away, probably. But Doug Miller of Timberland Builders, Inc, showed up shortly before 8:00am today, and he and his men were absolutely committed to getting our cars out of the garage.

It was a dangerous, scary job, and things conspired against them, but every time there was a hitch, they stopped, rethought the problem, and came up with another solution. They were very, very careful, trying not to cause any more damage to the cars, the garage, or our personal belongings. They were also very careful not to get injured in the process. (I was so nervous, I had to go inside several times. )

The guys removed the garage door. No mean feat, since it had to come down in panels, and there was a very tiny amount of space in front of the vehicles in which to work. Finally, our cars saw the light of day for the first time in a month! Mark immediately climbed into his van, cranked it up, and drove out of the garage, honking the horn all the way! Victor Willie didn’t even have a scratch on it. Mostly, it had been covered in soggy drywall, rather than plywood flooring or rafters. It’s FINE.

Then all eyes turned toward the Honda. I was shocked to see there was as much resting on the front of the car as there was on the trunk! OMG, the very idea of working with all the rafters and attic contents dangling precariously overhead was enough to make me ill. The picture doesn’t show just how much stuff they were scrambling around beneath. Toward the back of the garage, there were very few places you could stand upright.

 I had no clue how they were going to do this. Luckily, they were smarter than I.

First, they built a frame under the rafters at the front as a support so they could be jacked up, then they did something similar in the back. The frames had to be modified several times to give them extra strength.

Once the frames started to hold steady, they jacked them up, front and back, and drove the Honda out, too. Wooohoooooo! And the really good new is, astonishingly, it appears to have suffered only cosmetic damage!! It will need to be repainted, and there’s a very shallow dent on one side of the roof, but it doesn’t appear there’s any frame damage. Of course, we won’t know for sure until the body shop takes a look, but we are all hopeful!!


The State Farm rep should be here at noon tomorrow. Sadly, it’s Miriam, and not JAKE, but that’s the way it goes. 🙂 If all goes well, we could have our Honda back in a fairly short time, depending on Miriam’s assessment. Crossing my fingers here, because the transportation issue has been a big complication.

I hesitate to let myself get TOO happy, lest there be a smackdown coming, but right now, I’m feeling much better than I have in four weeks. YAY! Doug and his men from Timberland Builders are my new heroes, right up there with Thor and Harry Dresden. Except, REAL. And here to help when needed!

And there you have the latest. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we can get started on repairs, but for now, the garage has been secured again, and we have our cars ALMOST back. And that’s HUGE!

Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 2

Sound the Bugles!
The Cavalry Arrives!

Nearly a week after Hurricane Irma raged across the Atlantic, giving us a love tap on her way by, I finally found a tree service able to help us. The crane arrived first, then the bobcat and a crew of 15 men in two other trucks.

They closed off the road, and got to work, much to the entertainment of the neighborhood. (Folks set up folding chairs across the street to watch the production, though sadly, I have no pictures of the audience.) You can get an idea of the size and scope of this job from this shot. (That’s my husband, Mark, on the left side of the roof, keeping a sharp eye on the proceedings.)

You can see in this next  picture that there is a huge portion of the tree resting on the ground in front of the garage window. That’s what kept the garage walls from being crushed completely flat, as it supported a much of the weight of this huge laurel oak.

The process begins! Men swarmed our roof and yard,  sawing huge sections of tree trunk and smaller, but still giant, limbs away from the main trunk. Continue reading

Good Morning, and a Quick Apology

The Little Statue That Could
The tree trunk landed on top of this, and she is wedged
in good and tight.  Her hat is dented on one side, where the
oak is bearing down on her, but
she hasn’t succumbed to
the pressure yet. I’d really like
to save her, since she seems
to be trying so hard to
save US.

Things sure look brighter after a good night’s sleep. Well, except for where an entire tree is blocking the light from my windows and front door, of course. But that’s all been turned over to the insurance company, and I’m expecting them to send out an engineer to take charge (and get a general contractor on this) soon. We will need a tree removal service, mason/block layers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and roofers. Ack! This will be a slow process, but at least it’s underway. Sort of. And of course, once they have tarps in place and the tree removed, there are sure to be homes more severely damaged that will be a higher priority for a little while. But it’s moving forward, and I can breathe again.

I do want to apologize if I miss responding to any of your lovely, supportive, and encouraging posts, either on the blog or on Facebook. I have received hundreds of emails, too, and while I’m trying to answer everyone, everywhere, I fear some might be missed in the process. Just know how very much I appreciate all your love and support. There’s something strengthening in knowing others care, and I am blessed to have you all for online friends. Continue reading

#HurricaneIrma – So Much for Relaxing!

Hurricane Irma has now been classified as a Category 5 storm, with winds higher than 185mph. The National Hurricane Center says it is the strongest storm in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in its records. Current projected path can vary, but so far, looks like the image above. I live right about where the “L” in  FL is. 😦 So even this path will impact us.

At least one projected path shows the storm turning more north and coming right up the center of the state, straight through the middle of central Florida. That will SEVERELY impact us.

Just wanted to alert you guys that I may disappear for a few days, if we take a very hard hit. We do have a generator, so if we aren’t blown away, we won’t be totally without power, but I probably won’t try running the computer until it’s all over.

Another projected path has the storm turning more northeast, and not coming directly over Florida at all. That would be lovely. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as this has the potential to be a record breaker. Where Harvey ended up being an historic amount of rain, Irma looks like she’s planning to blow the state right off the map.

My beloved North Carolina mountains are looking better every day.

I’ll keep you posted as long as I have power.