Surviving Hurricane Ian; Cardinals and Other Househunters; I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes

View of the street in front of our house the morning after hurricane Ian, Thursday, 9/29/22. The water was about three feet deep, but by the next day, the roads were mostly dry.

Hurricane Ian

Worst Storm in Florida History

Wednesday, 9/28/22

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.

View from our backyard, Thursday, 9/29/22. Most of the trees are gone from the wooded lot behind our house, and the yard was surrounded by a “moat.”

Hurricane Ian Information

Sunday, 10/9/22

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.

View from our driveway, Thursday, 9/29/22. The water in the street was about three feet deep, covering the mailbox post and the bottom of our driveway.

Surviving Hurricane Ian

Nine Haikus and a Tanka

Tuesday, 9/27/2022

Flashlights, batteries,

storm shutters, propane, water,

ice…Are we ready?

Wednesday, 9/28/2022

Epic hurricane!

Both we and our house survived

the wrath of Ian!

Thursday, 9/29/2022

Downed trees surround us.

Homeless birds are house-hunting…

heart-rending chirping!

Children play outside,

jumping on their trampoline,

full of joy and life!

Helicopters pass.

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.


Jugs filled with filtered water and a propane burner in our lanai kitchen.

Advance Preparations

Tuesday, 9/27/22

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.

Meat department of a grocery store. On a couple of days, they ran out of ice. One day I shopped there, and they were out of milk. Today they were out of eggs and sour cream. In the first few days after the storm, there were lines outside of some grocery stores.

Living Conditions

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!


Male cardinal. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Cardinals & Other Househunters

Sonnet

Friday, 9/30/22

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!

Male and female cardinals. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Power company bucket truck working in our neighborhood.

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!

This was how I did my laundry on the second day after Hurricane Ian.

I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes

Friday, 9/30/22

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,

five nightshirts,

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.

I remember

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

in 2022!

Cheryl Batavia in the outdoor laundry. Shades of 1903, but without the washboard and the flat irons! Photo by Robert Snyder.

Positive Notes on Hurricane Ian

Saturday, 10/8/22

Downed trees from the vacant wooded lot next door blew against our house.
Tops of fallen trees against the window.

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!

This house in our neighborhood has storm shutters just like ours, but they actually put theirs up! The fence was no match for Hurricane Ian.

The Power is On!

Thursday, 10/6/22

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!

Moonrise over the remains of trees that blew over against our windows during Hurricane Ian. Friday, 10/7/22. We have a crew coming this week to cut up the branches and carry them to the street for FEMA to pick up.

Welcome, Autumn!

One great development is that Ian ushered in beautiful autumn weather…sunny days, cool mornings and evenings, and the bright harvest moon!

Hello, Birds!

Saturday, 10/8/22

Mockingbird. Photo by Pexels User from Pexels.
Male cardinal. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

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!

Blue Jay. Photo by Aaron Doucette from Unsplash.

Helping Each Other

The jatropha in our backyard after Hurricane Ian uprooted it.

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!

Our jatropha before the hurricane. Read about our jatropha miracle.

gulfcoastpoet.com/2022/09/04/ode-to-a-young-jatropha/
Robert on our front porch the morning after Hurricane Ian visited us. Thursday, 9/29/ 22

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!

Our dining table looks out to the lanai and our outdoor kitchen. A great place for a game of Scrabble!

Final Thoughts

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. ❤


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

71 Comments

  1. You are right, Cheryl, in times of need people help each other. Wonderful that you are so organized and managed to survive the hurricane. I watched the news and thought how terrible it must be for people to live there.

    Joanna

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  2. Wow – thanks for giving us a little insight into your experience. Having Ian bash at your house for 8 hours – oh my goodness! The hand washing was so interesting – as was your poem about your grandmother. So glad you all made it through the storm and the after effects okay!

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    1. It was an interesting experience. Robert kept saying that we were camping, which I found slightly annoying, and then we both laughed. I think we are a little too old for camping, but there were some aspects that I enjoyed. 🙂 So glad you found the poems interesting, Wynne. thank you so much for your comment. ❤

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  3. oH Cheryl,
    I’ve been thinking of you a lot and was just going to check in as I feared the worst. This is the worst but thank God you and Robert and your house are still standing and the sweet cardinals and your sense of humor are in tact! My cousins house in Naples was spared as well. You are so right we have to do our part. You are certainly doing yours. Take good care and those moments on the lanai for chatting and sharing your beautiful poetry with us.. xo💗❤️😘

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    1. What an encouraging comment, Cindy.! It means a lot to me. ❤ I am glad your cousin's house is OK. Naples was hit just before our area, and there were some very high storm surges south of us. Glad you enjoyed the poems. I look forward to catching up with some of your wedding news now that we have internet again. ❤ ❤ ❤

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      1. Oh Cheryl of course.. when i hadn’t heard from you I started to worry and now i see even if I had reached out I wouldn’t have reached you. Lift certainly surprises us daily, I’m glad you’re at the other end although the aftermath is quite something. I’m glad too, He was at the wedding and headed to Chicago where he has a house and then all hell broke loose. The rebuilding of the towns will take some time alright. Oh you will love the pics when you finally catch up. It was lovely but I’m glad it’s over honestly, 💗Take good care my friend 💗

        Liked by 1 person

  4. so glad you and yours are safe with relatively few scars! You were very well prepared and camping out at home is possible as you’ve proven. A good game of scrabble will divert the attention from any fears, you both did well 🙂

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  5. Cheryl, it’s great to hear from you and to know that you, Robert, and your home have survived and are safe and well. From your accounts of the experience, you were well-prepared to live through the aftermath without water and power.

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    1. Thank you, Rosaliene, for your kind words. It was interesting trying to figure out solutions to all the problems that can come up in a hurricane. Robert is a very innovative thinker, and working together with him was fun. I am very happy to have the power back on, though! 🙂 ❤

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  6. Glad to hear the two of you are okay – the material things can be replaced, happiness can be re-established and livelihoods can be stabilized, but it is the joy of surviving an ordeal and experiencing the kindness of others that sticks with you – I had to smile at the comments regarding “helping each other” what is quickly becoming a lost quality elsewhere in the rest of the States and abroad.

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  7. Wonderful news you are safe and well … I watched all the news of “Ian’s “ devastation throughout Florida and I was so hoping you guys were alright … I loved your thoroughly informative and interesting article… your poetic pieces were poignantly superb .. . 🌏🤗😍 Cheers from Ivor and Frankie at the Box Office Cafe, in Geelong

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  8. First off, relieved you are safe and have most of your ‘stuff’ still. I thoroughly enjoyed your artistic and Mother Earthy account of your recent experiences. It’s very useful for myself personally. Ian changed his mind about ravaging our area that was slated for a more direct hit inland in SC. I am grateful, but saddened by all he took in his wake. This new type of inland seeking hurricane has us looking for flood insurance. We’ve experienced flooding, but we seem to scrape by. With the extreme changes, we feel we need to be a bit more pro-active on that front. Your account confirms this! I especially like the photos of you as laundry mistress and your hubby’s smile on the front porch after Ian. Take care.

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    1. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your thoughts on hurricanes. I am glad Ian did not hit you directly, and I think you are wise to get flood insurance. Our house is not in a flood zone, and I don’t think we have flood insurance either. Maybe we also need to reevaluate whether we need flood insurance!

      Glad you liked the photos. I think Robert was smiling because we survived the hurricane. I also like that photo of him. All the best! ❤

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    1. Eugi, thank you for your concern. Our internet was down until the night before last, so I am very behind on my blog, but I will try to catch up as much as possible. I wasn’t able to hear much hurricane news. I hope you escaped Ian and are doing well. ❤

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  9. It’s really heartening to see your fighting spirit, during such adversity. More than half of the problems are shorted out if you keep your courage and morals high, you have effectively taught us that. Hat’s off to you Cheryl!!❤❤❤

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      1. I absolutely agree, if you have a good companion, life becomes a lot more easier and happier. I am currently juggling with all the responsibilities and finding it harder to squeeze out time for the blogging, which I earnestly want to do. Hopefully so in future 🙏
        My love and greetings to you, Robert and to all your family ❤❤❤

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Cheryl – first and foremost I must say that I am relieved to hear both you and Robert are safe! But I must also add how impressed I am by your resilience and preparedness. Many people could learn a valuable life lesson from you ❤️

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  11. I can only well imagine what kind of life will be without power, internet, mobile etc., but your preparedness could mitigate the impact of Ian to an extent. I had seen the scary pictures on television. Salute to you, Cheryl and Robert for taking timely action. The way you kept your morale by writing verses and day-to-day accounts by the flashlight is really appreciable. I’m glad that both of you are safe and well. Stay blessed, always 🙏💐

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  12. I am glad you and Robert are alright, Cheryl. Rick and I have relatives abut 75 miles north of Fort Meyers. They are alright, too.

    I didn’t know cardinals live as far south as Florida! We miss them. They don’t come this far west.

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    1. Thank you, Lavinia. I am glad your relatives are OK. It seems that the casualties from such a huge storm are mercifully low. The property damage seems to be very widespread.

      Many birds and animals here in SW Florida are the same as up north, but smaller. I have noticed that deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and cardinals are smaller here. I know that you have some wildlife where you live that we don’t have. You will just have to visit the cardinals sometimes. 🙂

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  13. I completely agree with your closing thoughts Cheryl. I’m glad to hear that you and Robert are safe. Sounds like it was an intense ordeal. Four years ago Hong Kong experienced its biggest Typhoon in living memory. I’ll never forget it. I’ve no doubt it’s climate induced. Wishing you and your well Cheryl 🙏

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, AP. I am glad you survived the Typhoon OK. I hope we will be able to reverse global warming. The climate problems are something I am sad to leave behind for future generations. I hope they are up to the task. Take care! ❤

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  14. I’m very glad you are both okay! Thanks for caring about the birds and other displaced animals. I don’t like the noise and fumes of generators either – not worth it.

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    1. Thanks, JoAnna for your kind response. ❤ The cardinal was truly distraught at the devastation of the hurricane until his mate returned. The only similar display of grief I ever witnessed was when an osprey stole a baby from a mockingbird's nest. the mockingbird parents pursued the osprey as it carried their dead baby to feed the babies in its nest high atop a pole. I think we underestimate the emotional capacity of animals. Both incidents were very sad.

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  15. I missed reading this incredible post with your lovely poems. I’m glad you all okay. You so right, we have to reverse global warming and it can be done if we all do our part. Best wishes to you and your loved ones, take care 🌸💕

    Liked by 1 person

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