Wednesday, September 1, 2004. Yes, it’s true. While we are still recovering from Charley, Frances has us in her sights. Not locked in, I trust—but right now we are sitting on the bull’s-eye. We are praying that Frances will take a harmless turn out into the Atlantic, not only because we don’t want to deal with another hurricane, but also because Heather, Jon, and Jonathan are supposed to be flying in Friday night. Jonathan, of course, has never been here, and Heather hasn’t been home since before she got married. We’ve been looking forward to this visit for a long time. However, just because we went through a hurricane with Janet, that doesn’t mean we’d like to experience one with Heather to even the score!We still have many of our jugs of water in the freezer from last time. I’ve started freezing more, because we discovered that they are a wonderful way of having both ice and a fresh water supply. I just finished measuring our windows, and we hope to go out for plywood later today. (For those of you new to these updates, when Charley came we discovered that our window-protection boards had disappeared with our move.)
Life for us has been essentially back to normal for a week, but there are still people around here without power. The more local the damage is, the longer it takes to fix. Whatever knocked our power out apparently did so for a large number of people, so that repair had high priority.
Disasters seem to bring out the best and the worst in people. You hear about looting and price-gouging, but after Charley I’ve heard more about kindness and sharing. Costco opened its gasoline pumps to non-members, and when the regular grade of gas was gone, sold premium for the price of the lower grade. In one neighborhood a longstanding feud was broken as neighbors united around a common need. On our street, post-Charley cleanup brought many of us outside at the same time, evoking conversations among people who hadn’t said more than hello for weeks or even months. People shared tools, information, advice, and labor.Not everyone’s definition of the necessities of life is the same, but one neighbor and I found common ground as we shared computing resources in an effort to keep our personal webpages updated!
Power is gradually being restored to the area, though many of our friends are still without. If we stay near home, it is easy to conclude that things are nearly back to normal. Janet and I went shopping yesterday, and business was “as usual” for the most part. The greatest lack seems to be gasoline, as supplies have been disrupted, and it is needed not only for cars but for generators. Porter drove to a church meeting about 40 minutes away and found no gas available anywhere between here and there. I’m grateful I was able to fill the gas tank on the “other” car before the storm hit. I had been tempted not to bother, since we had one car that could get us where we needed to go, and the other was about half full. I did not reckon on gas being so hard to find after the storm, and we needed it tonight when we picked Andy up from the airport. (More)
Hurricane Charley did not cut off our water supply; we did not even lose pressure, as some cities did, so our tap water remains healthful. Most of those being told to boil their water are also without power, and gas stoves are rare. Fortunately, gas grills are more common.We can argue about whether it is good or bad to add fluoride to water. We can worry about Prozac making its way into our water supplies. We can aver that, despite treatment, dangerous chemicals still lurk in dangerous amounts in our tap water, and drink only filtered or bottled water. Then we can worry about what dangerous chemicals might be in that water. Some of us can remember the taste of cold mountain springs or fresh well water, and regret that our children may never experience such pleasure. But we can't deny that access to plentiful, clear water—hot or cold at our touch, even!—that doesn't harbor life-threatening germs and parasites, is a blessing that sets us apart from most of the people who have ever lived. (More)
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light. (Rev. 22:5)
Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)Bathed as we usually are with light at the touch of a switch, with light at our command even in the darkest night, I rarely appreciated what these verses must have meant to people who really knew darkness. The idea of constant light seemed less than paradisiacal to me; I thought of darkness as restful, comforting, and revealing of starry splendors rendered invisible by the brightness of the day. I had been known to grumble at the intrusion of the light: our neighbor's motion-sensitive floodlight, activated by a passing cat and piercing my sleep; or a city's midnight glow that washed out my view of the stars. (More)
8/14/04 10:00 p.m. Our power was restored at 7:45 p.m. We had spent the day trying to conserve cool air, in the house, the freezer, and the refrigerator. Porter had the rest of the strawberry-rhubarb crisp with nearly-liquid ice cream for breakfast. The house stayed reasonably cool, though we lost some of the effect by spending much of the day outside in the sun and heat, cleaning up. Porter and Janet worked on the roof, Porter on the screened enclosure, and I stayed on the ground. Hurricanes are good for neighbor relations; many people were out working, and all were friendly and free with encouragement and help. (More)
8/14/04 9:00 a.m. This won’t be long, as I don’t want to use too much of the laptop’s battery; there is as yet no estimate as to when power will be restored. Seventy-five percent of Seminole County (us) is without power, and 50% of Orange County. We lost power at about 9:30 last night.Thanks be to God! And thanks to all of your for your prayers. We have a lot to be grateful for today. We have lost one easily-repairable screen section, and there are a number of tree limbs that will have to be trimmed, as they are broken and hanging. (That will be an interesting project of the kind I will not want to watch, with Porter on the roof. Come to think of it, don’t stop praying yet! (More)
8/13/04 9:20 p.m. Bringing the computer down now. Love you all! Hope to post good news in the morning.
8/13/04 8:50 p.m. Just lost power; it came back on in a few seconds. But it may be a harbinger of things to come....
8/13/04 8:45 p.m. Wind really picking up now. I hear tree branches falling on the roof. They sound large but I know from experience that they are small branches making a large sound. On our roof, a squirrel sounds like a herd of buffalo.
8/13/04 8:30 p.m. The rain's picking up now, and so is the wind. Still less than a normal summer storm. Right now we're just annoyed with the local NBC station, which insists on broadcasting "news" instead of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, even when they don't have anything new to say. They say if you want to see the Olympics, watch it on cable. But if you don't have cable.... We looked for live Internet coverage, but apparently NBC nixed that. Funny - we watch TV maybe once every couple of months, and two things we want to watch are in conflict.
8/13/04 7:15 p.m. Charley is now a Category 3, and some of the commentators are talking almost as if it's all over. But it's not here yet, and even if it's a Category 2 when it gets here, that's a LOT of wind and rain. There's still a tornado warning, too.
Andy will be pleased to know that amateur radio is getting a lot of good publicity - hams are providing emergency communication. Nothing else to report, except that the strawberry-rhubarb crisp is very good. :)
8/13/04 6:40 p.m. Time to make some dinner, while we still have power. We've filled almost every available container with water. It's a little funny, since we're much more likely to lose power than water. But we're fresh out of Leyden jars....
Still drizzling lightly.
8/13/04 5:00 p.m. I'm taking a break at the moment. We've brought the potential missiles inside, and have positioned the cars right up against the garage door, on either side. Our collected milk jugs are filled with water; most are in the freezer, some in the refrigerator. We'll fill the bathtub later. I'm experiencing the "nesting instinct" - I thought that only happened when you were about to go into labor; maybe it works for a different kind of labor, too. Janet and I have been cleaning, and I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp.
One of our friends in the Tampa area just turned the tables on us; they escaped and she offered to let us stay with her....