Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Damage Assessment

People have been checking in and asking for an update, and I truly appreciate the concern more than I can say - it is making the road ahead much more bearable - but it is emotionally exhausting to answer everyone individually, so here's another post. (Remember when this used to be a running blog?)

Monday, Kristin sent us photos of the outside of our house. The water looked high but the roof looked solid. Our pool cage looked destroyed and we lost of a lot of trees, but nothing fell on our house. A colleague who lives down the street from me texted that our outdoor garage lights were on, so she assumed we had power. (I could verify this from Kristin's photos.) This all seemed like pretty good news.
A photo from Kristin...I've always wanted a waterfront home.
We got back to Sarasota from Miramar Beach in the wee hours of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and stayed the night at my parents'. The traffic was horrendous and our 9 hour drive took 14; I actually wish we had waited one more day to head south as the linemen, National Guard, and other out-of-state helpers really needed the road, but I did not have the final say in travel plans.
Anyway. After a night of sleep, my mom drove Matt and me back home. As we got closer to our interstate exit, we saw more and more tree damage. It was a relief to get home, and also nerve-wracking.
Electric poles making their way down the west coast, where many poles were completely snapped in half.
The wind literally blew the bark off trees; there were hundreds of naked trees everywhere!
Here's what we found:

Cons:

We definitely had water get into the house. The line around the furniture in our living room and the car tires in the garage suggest 3-4 inches. The walls sopped up a lot of it, and that means we need to cut out the drywall due to the risk of mold.
Luckily Matt brought his Shop-Vac home from the studio and we used it to suck up the water.
We are missing a handful of shingles on one area of our roof.
A view of our house from the golf course. You can see where the shingles are missing, the downed trees, and the ruined pool cage.
One beam of our pool cage broke, and the screening is ripped up.
Archie's memorial bird bath survived.
Multiple trees fell, including our avocado tree and lemon tree. This is actually devastating...we love our avocados and lemons. The avocado tree was huge and definitely decades old. There are avocados and lemons all over the yard, in the pool, and in the neighbors' yards.

Pros:

The biggest pro, obviously, is that most of our friends sustained only minimal damage to their homes and all of them are safe.

None of the trees that fell from our yard damaged any houses! The avocado tree landed in our neighbor's yard and the trees from the golf course missed our pool. The trees on the other side of our house all fell harmlessly into the ditch between our yard and the other neighbor's.
No more avocados. I am so grateful this didn't hit the neighbor's house.
We have a super tall palm tree that the neighbors said was about five feet from hitting their roof but luckily did not (it's still standing); I am so relieved! I would have felt terrible if our trees caused damage to another house!

Our power was out for two days because a tree took down the wires, but FPL was able to temporarily hook it back up so we have lights and AC for the time being. Eventually they will come back and do a more permanent fix. (Internet is still out, but I can use my hotspot.)

We have running water and we are not on a boil notice.

Our insurance company is being extremely helpful and allowing everyone affected to file claims via email because their phone-lines are swamped, so we've been able to take photos, file the claim, and begin cleanup ASAP.

Everything in our freezer stayed frozen - hooray for gallon bags filled with water!. The water and non-perishables we prepped are all safe, too.

Our belongings are okay, including Matt's ceramics (and his studio!) and my grandma's crystal.
This is just part of Matt's park's flooding (you can see more on the Upriver Ceramics Instagram page); the river is still rising and it is honestly a lake right now.
Luckily, the cottages are all safe! Somehow they withstood the wind!
We have had so many offers to help us that it is overwhelming - in a good way, of course. Words cannot describe how appreciative I am of everyone and how very lucky I feel that it wasn't worse. We honestly dodged a bullet. The drywall stuff and fixing the pool cage is going to be frustrating and costly, but I have a house and I have power and cleanup will be intense but we are not starting from scratch, as many people are.

This entire ordeal has been stressful and exhausting, and it's not over yet, but at least now we know what we're dealing with.

(Also, every ten minutes I'm thinking about how climate change will lead to a higher frequency of huge storms like this and I don't know how many more times I can do this. Once is enough!)

ABK

Monday, September 11, 2017

First Irma Update & Good News

While we are not home yet to see the extent of the flooding, I do have some good news to share. First of all, thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer help in the coming weeks if we find extensive damage in the house, and thank you to those who offered good thoughts Sunday as we waited to see how the storm would turn out.

For us, Irma has passed. It is still going to bring dangerous weather to other cities, but I hope it peters out quickly and more damage is avoided.

A friend was able to get close enough to our intersection to get a photo of our house. It looks like the water is sitting just below our garage in front; we aren't sure how high the water got before receding to this level, but I am hopeful that if we had flooding, it only came in from the back into the sunken living room, which we emptied and prepped. Knowing how our backyard floods, that is still a possibility.
Our neighborhood has no power and the estimation is about two weeks before it comes back on. With temperatures in the 90s, we are not anxious to get back to an AC-less house, but we are anxious to see if there is interior damage. Our roof looks intact from the front view, at least.

We got lucky; the areas south of us took the hardest winds and the storm surge, and by the time the hurricane hit us it was a Category 3 instead of the anticipated 4. By the time it got to my parents' house, it was a 2. (They never even lost power!) My brother's apartment made it through; my sister is on her way home to see how hers did. My friends and colleagues are safe and most sustained minimal damage to their houses and yards, but the downed trees, debris, and downed power lines are a concern.
A colleague sent me this still shot of her house. All the houses are on personal islands due to flooding; she's not sure about internal damage  yet. 
I am honestly weak with relief. It could have been so much worse for us and millions of others. The path Irma ended up taking was very lucky because she lost power as she stayed inland.

I've seen quite a few heartwarming stories that remind me that we are all in this together, and we will be able to rebuild.
Click here for the whole story.
 I think Kristina's home got through the worst of it intact as well!

Thanks again for your support!

ABK