Nearly every culture has celebrations incorporating light. Bonfires, torches, lamps, candles, fireworks…all light the way to our best selves and a better world. Diwali is a beautiful and joyous festival, but what seems extraordinary to me is its universal message…nine simple words with the power to transform the individual and the world:
Ian was the largest Florida Hurricane on record. Slow-moving, it dropped huge amounts of rain and had storm surges of up to eighteen feet in coastal areas. Flooding was extensive. Wind speeds of up to 155 miles per hour and gusts of up to 190 miles per hour were recorded.
Southwest Florida was hit very hard, but fifty-seven of Florida’s sixty counties were affected before the storm moved up the East coast of the US.
Hurricane Ian Information
Today is twelve days after Hurricane Ian. Most of the information here is from various sources, such as personal experience, observation, and word-of-mouth, though I watched hurricane news until the power went off on Thursday afternoon, 9/28/22. Our out-of-town relatives looked up news for us on the internet and gave us information over the phone after the phones started working.
I will be happy to get more in-depth hurricane news since our internet and TV came back on tonight. I know that much of the news will be tragic. Many people have had their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, and over 100 have lost their lives. Of course, there will also be stories of people helping each other and stories of hurricane heroes.
Surviving Hurricane Ian
Nine Haikus and a Tanka
storm shutters, propane, water,
ice…Are we ready?
Both we and our house survived
the wrath of Ian!
Downed trees surround us.
Homeless birds are house-hunting…
Children play outside,
jumping on their trampoline,
full of joy and life!
No power, no phone service.
Internet is down.
Neighborhood kids wade
and row an inflated boat
down the flooded street.
Grown-ups are working
to bring order to chaos,
helping each other.
Heard in the distance,
generators and chainsaws,
fumes of gasoline.
Faint smoke in the air,
smells of wet wood burning and
supper on the grill.
A tiny flashlight
illuminates my paper
as I write tonight.
At last, loved ones’ calls connect.
“Yes, we are fine!” we tell them.
Knowing we might not have running water, we filled the bathtubs with water for flushing the commodes and gallon jugs with RO-filtered water for drinking. We froze jugs of water to keep food cold in case of power outages. We also bought a bucket to carry water from the water tank outside.
Some items that are always in short supply during hurricanes are batteries and paper products, so we keep them on hand. For cooking on the lanai, we have a propane burner, tanks of propane, and matches in a waterproof container. We also have flashlights and a small battery-operated fan.
Gas shortages and long gas lines are common during storms, so we filled up our car’s gas tank. We fully charged our cell phones and have a charger in the car for backup.
We didn’t put our storm shutters up because predictions until the last minute were for a storm with maximum winds of 46 miles per hour. We don’t have a generator; the noise and the gas fumes are a problem for us.
Charlotte County, Florida
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
Traffic has been extremely heavy. There have been long lines at gas stations, and some stations were out of gas. Grocery stores sell out of items such as ice, meat, eggs, milk, and paper products faster than they can restock the shelves. Some restaurants are open. They have faced shortages, but they have adapted and are serving large crowds. Schools are closed until further notice. Mail deliveries resumed after a few days. Garbage pickup will resume soon.
We had no electricity or running water for over a week at our house. Power returned on Saturday, 10/8/22, and the internet came back on Sunday, 10/9/22. About 95% of customers now have power. Cell phone service was off for a day, then was erratic, but has gradually improved.
Major roads were quickly cleared and traffic signals were in service. Secondary roads are mostly clear, but not all traffic signals are operational.
Floods in our neighborhood subsided in a day, but there may still have been flooding elsewhere for a while. We think the numerous canals in our neighborhood overflowed. Robert found a dead fish in our yard after the water went down. Phew!
Cardinals & Other Househunters
Oh, bright red bird perched on a scrap of vine
amid trees fallen in a hurricane,
your chirping reaches from your heart to mine.
Oh, little homeless bird, I feel your pain!
The female cardinal soon joins her mate.
Now side-by-side in silence, feeling calm,
their top priority is real estate.
Away they fly in search of their new home.
Although the cardinals are out of sight,
their joyful melodies drift in the air.
May their new treehouse be exactly right!
I hope that they are safe and happy there.
May displaced humans, squirrels, and raccoons,
and all househunters find their dream homes soon!
Cleanup & Recovery
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
There are several staging areas nearby. Electrical crews from many Florida counties and multiple states, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Rubicon volunteers, The Florida National Guard, sheriff’s deputies, and state police from many Florida counties are some of the people working here.
All of the cleanup and recovery efforts have been well-coordinated, and the various agencies have accomplished an amazing amount of work in less than two weeks since Hurricane Ian struck. A Rubicon volunteer I talked to told me that they will be here until Thanksgiving, clearing roads and assisting Floridians with emergency repairs.
A huge thank you to everyone for their efforts to return Florida to normal after Hurricane Ian!
I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes
The second day
after Hurricane Ian,
with no power or running water,
while it was still cool outside,
I set up a table on the patio.
Carrying water in a bucket
from the water tank,
Robert and I filled and refilled two basins,
one to wash and one to rinse.
I washed twelve pairs of underwear,
and two pairs of socks.
I hung the clothes on hangers
to dry in the sun and the breeze
Then I watched the clouds
forming in the sky.
If it rained,
the clothes would have to finish drying
on the lanai.
It took me a couple of hours
to wash the clothes.
All that time, I thought of Grandma
making soap from lard and lye,
and boiling it in a big kettle over a fire.
About 1956, I watched Grandma do laundry.
She washed her clothes
in a wringer washer in her basement,
then hung them outside to dry
on the clotheslines.
When they were dry,
she carried them upstairs
and sprinkled them with water
before she ironed them.
There were no steam irons then,
and there was very little wash-and-wear.
Grandma did her laundry
in many steps,
and she climbed many steps too!
Grandma was born around 1903.
She and Grandpa
purchased and remodeled
her childhood home
when she was in her fifties.
When Grandma was living
in that same house as a child,
they pumped well water
with a pitcher pump in the yard…
no wringer washer
in the basement,
no indoor plumbing,
and probably no electricity.
that Grandma was very proud
of her collection of antique flat irons
made of solid iron,
the ones that you heated
on the woodstove
before you ironed your clothes.
She probably used those same irons
as a child living in that very house.
How Grandma would laugh
if she could see me now,
carrying well water in a bucket
and washing clothes outdoors
Positive Notes on Hurricane Ian
Farewell to Trees!
Although we didn’t put storm shutters up, and trees blew down against our roof and windows, there is no damage except for some minor gutter repairs. It truly was amazing, and definitely terrifying, to watch Hurricane Ian slam into our house for about eight hours!
The Power is On!
One result of living through Hurricane Ian is a new appreciation for electricity. Nearly everything we do requires an innovative approach without power. I was so happy to take a shower! No more carrying endless buckets of water! No more schlepping ice! No more writing poems by flashlight!
One great development is that Ian ushered in beautiful autumn weather…sunny days, cool mornings and evenings, and the bright harvest moon!
Cardinals have been the predominant birds in our immediate neighborhood, but since the storm, I have seen several mockingbirds. I love both birds, but the mockingbirds are wonderful singers. Today the weather was gorgeous, and I had lunch on the lanai. For nearly an hour, mockingbirds performed a concert for Robert and me. They have a stunning repertoire!
There are two large oak trees on the other side of the vacant lots behind our house that survived Hurricane Ian. I think the cardinals may have found a new home there.
We have also seen a colorful blue jay a few times.
I hope they all stick around!
Helping Each Other
One of the nicest things we have experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is people helping each other, both their neighbors and total strangers.
Our neighbors are very busy and hard-working and have plenty to do, but they have offered to help us. Our kind neighbor replanted two Jatrophas that the storm ripped out of the ground. We are watering them and hoping for another miracle.
What an inspiring family!
Spending Time Together
Robert and I have enjoyed working together to overcome the challenges we have faced from Hurricane Ian. We liked chatting on the lanai over our morning tea in the cool mornings and talking about the events of the day in the evenings. Having a few late lunches together in a cool restaurant was pleasant when we had no air conditioning at home.
Occasionally, we took time out to play a game of Scrabble. A couple of times, I even won! At night, we played by the light of a tiny flashlight hung from the ceiling fan with a piece of string.
It’s great to spend time with the ones you love in the good times, but it’s especially great in challenging times!
A lot of people are probably wondering whether the intensity of Hurricane Ian is the result of climate change. I believe it is, and I think that we will continue to have increasingly severe weather events if we fail to reverse global warming. We all need to do our part.
Wherever you are, I send you best wishes for health and happiness. Be safe, and remember that life is a little sweeter when people help each other. ❤