Personal Update, Post-Irma …

We evacuated Friday, Irma hit Saturday and Sunday, and we returned Tuesday. It was a long day/night of travel … heavy traffic, closed roads, hard-to-find gas, etc. Our little island was a mess. Downed trees everywhere … debris everywhere … but amazingly resilient houses and people. Based on the damage to trees, it’s hard to believe any houses are standing, but thanks to smart/strict building codes (that people complain about – until a storm shows how necessary they are), very few houses were destroyed. A neighbor who stayed said that he saw lots of small tornadoes quickly touch down, do damage and then disappear … which may explain why one block has severely damaged or destroyed homes and snapped trees, and the next one has more typical damage.

The mood here is relief. Sooner or later, almost everyone says, “We were lucky.” Forecasters Saturday started talking about “worst case scenarios” of 10-15 feet of storm surge, which would have been catastrophic. When the eye went over, there were 100-130 mph winds, and we ended up with 3-6 feet of storm surge, which is bad enough, but survivable.

Our house ended up with the lots of downed branches and trees (including a huge beloved mango), minor roof damage, more significant damage to a lanai (pool cage), and damage to a solar heater, but no broken windows and no water in the house. So we are also saying, “We were lucky.” We feel especially grateful to all the first responders and utility workers (who have arrived from around the country) – our electricity is back, and even internet. Many of our neighbors aren’t so fortunate. The assisted living facility where my mom lives anticipates no electricity until the 22nd, so they’re making due with a generator, which means reduced lights and air conditioning. We’re glad my mother can stay with my brother’s family until electricity is fully restored.

I leave tomorrow to speak in Kansas City, and then North Carolina the week after that, and then Idaho. So life goes on. In between, we’ll be cutting fallen trees, hauling debris, and appreciating each “normal” moment in a new way. Thanks to all for your concern and prayers.