AFTERMATH

July 11th, 2005

So the hurricane is over and I finally got my power back after FORTY EIGHT HOURS, thank you, and it still flickers in and out at inconvenient times, like while I am trying to write this, so forgive me if this seems a bit disjointed.

Anyway, I kept a diary during the storm so that those of you who cared to could live through it vicariously. It is posted below. It's actually kind of boring due to the fact that a lot of sitting out hurricanes involves just that…sitting it out. In the dark. With or without the help of warm TaB or Budweiser, the King of Beers, depending on your preference.

But I did take some awesome pictures, which I'll post, so you won't feel left out, or anything.

Diary of Hurricane Dennis:

Okay so the first thing that happened was that I woke up Friday morning and on the news they were telling everyone in the Keys to evacuate. The night before, when I had gone to bed, it had just been tourists and people who live in trailer homes. Now it was everybody.

This didn't seem fair, especially since on the news they were saying that there were no more flights, buses, or rental cars left out of Key West.

Not that we could have left anyway, seeing as how we hadn't boarded up the windows of either of our two houses.

I went out onto the porch of our new house, because when you do this in my new neighborhood, someone will, eventually, come out of their house and talk to you.

Our neighbors came out of their different houses. We consulted with them—were they evacuating?

Our neighbors have all lived here for years, and they did not even evacuate for George, the worst storm to hit the island in recent memory (theirs). They gave us some advice about how to tie down all the wood in the backyard, leftover from the fence we were building. One of them brought us some ice. One of them told us which windows not to bother boarding, and was helping us board the others.

That is when I noticed the naked lady across the street.

This is not the same naked lady I told you about before. This is an actual full time resident who chose that morning to sit on the front steps of her house completely naked, and enjoy a cigarette.

“Um, guys,” I said. “There is a lady sitting on her porch across the street, completely naked.”

This was my big mistake. All my neighbors left to go help the naked lady with HER shutters.

Now I know, for the future, the way to get people to help you board up your house is to strip completely naked and sit on your porch, smoking a cigarette.

I was already not having a very fun morning, because certain people who live in my house kept saying, “We're all going to die,” which was not very heartening. Also, certain people get very bossy about what other certain people who live in the house should be doing and/or wearing during hurricane preparation, so that the following argument might ensue:

“Why are you laying in bed writing when there is a category 4 hurricane bearing down on us?”

“Because I have fifty pages due on Monday.”

“Not if you're dead, you won't.”

“Yes, but I might not be lucky enough to die.”

Then, later, after I gave up on the 50 pages:

“Why are you wearing those shoes?”

“Because I like them.”

“Those aren't appropriate shoes to wear while boarding up houses.”

“Well, I don't care, I'm wearing them. Wait—I have to put down the part of this heavy outdoor furniture I am carrying to the tool shed.”

“Why?”

“Because my shoe just came off.”

“See? If you had put on the shoes I'd told you to put on, you wouldn't have to stop every five minutes to put your shoes back on.”

And so on.

Later I found out that every single couple we know had similar fights before, during, and after the hurricane, and that this is a normal part of the hurricane storm season. It has something to do with the barometric pressure and the fact that you could die at any minute. This combination makes you want to kill your spouse. This is especially convenient since there is no AC so your windows are wide open, and your neighbors can hear every bad word you say. However, you can hear every bad word THEY say, as well, so there is some nice give-and-take with this.

Anyway, then our friends came over, and we realized there were ten 80 pound bags of concrete mix on our porch that needed to be moved over the boards for the fence, so that the boards did not become projectiles and fly through people's windows, and so that the cement did not harden to our porch floor.

So our friends helped us move all those bags of cement, which may I just say was extremely nice of them? Because each bag weighed as much as 8 Henriettas. Although, as our friends pointed out, the bags were much nicer about being moved than she normally is.

Then our friends helped us board up our OTHER house, in exchange for us helping them board up THEIR house, which is what neighbors and friends do for each other in Key West. You don't even have to technically be naked, it turns out, to get help boarding up.

Although it helps if you own your own drill, which I do. Mine is purple.

After that we collapsed in exhaustion for a few hours, and I took some Doans for my back which was sore from the cement mix bags. We watched the weather channel and Brian Norcross, my favorite channel 4 weatherman, who said things like, “The Keys are going to be in for a bumpy ride!” and then the Key West police came on and said all liquor sales were banned and people should stop having hurricane parties as this was a serious, life-threatening storm.

That is when the phone rang and we got invited to our first hurricane party.

Which is why, when the lights went out at 10PM, we were at someone else's house, eating blueberry pie.

Everyone was mad when the lights went out, because it wasn't even raining yet. We all had to walk home in the dark. Some of us were very freaked out by this, because by then the wind was picking up. Some of us kept going, “We're all going to die!” while others of us sang Supercalifragilistick very loudly to ward off any crackheads who might be out trying to take advantage of the blackout and looking for people to rob for money to buy more crack with.

By the time we got home, the wind was blowing so hard that some of us decided it would be better to sleep downstairs in the oldest part of the house, the one that has been around since 1860, than the newer, 1980ish section.

So we gathered our most precious belongings, that we could not live without—for one of us it was the 3 Cs, Cat, Computer, and Clindamycin Phosphate prescription acne medication—and got all comfy in the living room just in time for the lights to come back on.

Which is how we got to see Brian Norcross say that we should have evacuated and that the hurricane was headed right for us.

Then the lights went out again.

This time they stayed off. It was very dark and spooky in our new house and there were weird sounds and it was hot and Henrietta was crying and we couldn't get any stations on our radio that were talking about the weather, just religious stations asking us to come to God's dominion, and one about fishing that suggested using popcorn to catch crappies.

It was very hard to sleep on the couch with all this going on, especially since it sounded like there was a train going by outside, and we kept hearing weird bumps. But finally we dozed off and when we woke up the power was still off and our friends were calling on their cell phones to give us the joyous news that a local restaurant had a generator (we have a generator, too…it
is arriving in August) and was serving breakfast.

So we got dressed (fortunately the water, both hot and cold, was still running) and hurried outside to meet our friends at the table they were holding for us….

Only to be greeted with devastation everywhere!


A whole bunch of our trees had come down—we lost our entire banana crop!


One of our trees at our old house came down on our neighbor's truck (this footage was on the news) and got caught in some power lines!


Across the street, in one place the sidewalk had completely come up due to a tree falling over….


And it was very windy….


And the ocean, which is usually flat and calm, even at the beach, due to the coral reef, was RAGING, scattering seaweed everywhere, with huge waves churning over the beaches….


….and into the streets.


But fortunately the reporters were there to record it all for us. Even though we had no power to actually watch their broadcasts.

(Obviously, after breakfast we all got in our cars and drove around and took pictures, even though Jeb Bush said to go home, as more people are killed in the aftermath of storms than during them–we did not find this out until later however.)

I would like to point out that all of those photos were taken AFTER Dennis had allegedly passed. The tail of Dennis was actually worse than the eye wall, for us.

Then we went home to nap and a little while later a neighbor invited us to ANOTHER hurricane party, so we went to that and had a lot of fun. After that we went home and found Gem on the front porch—she had escaped from her real home—but her owners came over and got her, so that was all right.

Then we went back to the one restaurant that had a generator for dinner, and finally went to bed in our hot, non-air conditioned house, hoping that the rumors we'd heard about the electricity coming on by morning were true.

They were not. The power came back on the next day at around 4PM.

Then it went off (in the middle of I, ROBOT).

Then it came back on again.

And so on. This went on for hours, so we used the time to pay social calls on our friends. We stopped by to say hi to Captain Bob and found him in his driveway in his underwear, because he thought no one would be coming by, and he had to move his truck. Naturally, this was the highlight of our day, and probably Captain Bob's as well.

And then the power finally came back on and stayed on. So we went to bed.

And then Monday morning we woke up and had to start cleaning everything up. Which sucked.

But not as bad as things suck for the people who live in Haiti, Cuba, and upstate, who got it even worse than we did.

Until next time….

More later.

Much love,

Meg