Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene: The Houseguest That Just Didn't Want To Leave

I guess she technically wasn't a houseguest, since I didn't invite her. But she was hellbent on coming, so what was a girl to do?

And once she was settled and comfortable, the bitch just wouldn't leave!

I went to work Friday morning, and spent most of the day helping the assistant manager get the store ready.

It was crazy to drive up and see the place being covered in storm shutters.

In the 3 1/2 years we've been open, we've never needed them. The store was a hurricane virgin, just like me!

The wind and rain started around 1 or 2pm, and by 5pm when we closed, I was more than anxious to get home. The customers weren't.

I was getting calls at 4:55 asking, "You're closing in 5 minutes? Really? What do you mean you won't be open at all tomorrow?"

People were all horrified at the thought of being trapped in their homes for a whole day. With their families. And maybe *gasp* having to actually talk to their families!

Anyway, driving home at 5pm, there were still quite a few people on the roads. The rain was starting in heavy already, with the outer bands of the storm moving in.

With a hurricane, you not only have risk of wind and rain and flooding, but also tornadoes as well. The tornado risk is greatest with the northern bands of the spiral shaped storm.

Chuck fell asleep early that night, and around 10:30, I thought I was going to have to wake him up to go hide in the bathroom, because tornado warnings were firing all over the area.

Luckily, none of them ended up being in our immediate vicinity, so I let the old man sleep. I usually sleep with earplugs in, because any kind of noise keeps me up, but that night I didn't put any in. They say a tornado sounds like a freight train when it's approaching, and I'd prefer to hear my impending doom.

I slept in the spare room, because Chuckles' snoring also sounds a freight train. I didn't want to confuse the two.

I fell asleep around midnight, and woke up about 2am. I turned on the TV to see what was going on, and watched for about an hour. The wind was whipping outside my house.

Our local news station WCTI Channel 12 stayed live on the air with no commercials for 36 hours straight. I think the news anchors were getting a little delirious by the end of it. They were pretty awesome, actually.

With nothing yet to report but wind (tornado threat had mostly passed), I turned off the TV and tried to go back to sleep. I was suprised the power was even still on, I kept cracking an eye open to see if the red glow of the alarm clock remained.

At 6:30 on Saturday, I decided it was time to get up and see what was going on outside. Chuckles was already up, coffee made. He also couldn't believe the power was still on, and was taking advantage of it.

The wind was crazy, ya'll. It was gusting up to 90mph/145kph. I went outside on the front porch in my pajamas and shot a little video (excuse my scratchy voice, I sound a little like Harvey Fierstein in the AM).

Featuring.....*drum roll please*......Chuckles!!

IG, I think you win in the storm-off. The storm, even as powerful as it seemed to me, was only a Category 1 when it hit. You probably shot your video from somewhere much more interesting than your front step. And the term 'typhoon' is way more cool than 'hurricane'.

Everytime I would turn on my camera, the winds seemed to suddenly want to die down. Turn it off, and they'd whip up again. Dammit! The hurricane was too smart for me!

Watch to the end, the look on Chuck's face is worth it...

The time passed soooooo slowly yesterday.

I can't imagine what it was like for people without power. Some of my friends kept their good sense of humour, just like friends of mine should.

This is one of my friends, making her husband a sandwich by headlamp. I hope she won't mind me posting it, but it was too good not to :D

We never once lost power throughout the whole storm. I only know one other friend of mine in the area who didn't lose power, and she lives only three miles from me. Chuck and I were both amazed, and very grateful.

Because the the hurricane has a weird wind pattern, and our house is situated just the right direction, we didn't have much wind coming in onto the back porch for most of the storm.

Chuckles and I set up a couple of chairs out there and enjoyed a little storm-watching.

Our yard didn't take that hard of a hit. All of my trees held up. I thought the crepe myrtle was going to go a couple of times, because at one point the wind was so strong it was bent in half.

But my neighbours Kelly and Karoline...yikes. The pumphouse for their well got destroyed. They have two giant pecan (yes, I know it's 'pe-cahn' but I say 'pee-can' because Chuck does, I can't help it) trees next to their house, and they lost a lot of branches.

A peach tree of theirs broke right at ground level.

But our yard fared well. We didn't lose any siding or shingles either, which was cool.

Besides Kelly's yard, the only other significant damage in our immediate neighbourhood was a downed tree blocking most of the street.

Later on in the afternoon, after the winds died down slightly, we took a little drive around the neighbourhood. It was still storming, so we probably shouldn't have, but we wanted to see what was going on. (Famous last words, right?)

By far, the worst damage was uprooted and broken trees, and downed power/cable lines.

Some of the uprooted trees were upwards of a hundred years old. The ground just gets so saturated and the tree can't take the wind anymore. It was kind of sad to see old trees like that go like that *snap*.

There was a curfew imposed by the county until later that evening, meaning no one should have been out on the roads, so we didn't go out very far.

As far as the damage went to the surrounding counties, the massive fishing piers in Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach took the worst hit.

Bogue Inlet Pier, destroyed. A friend told me about 200ft of it got washed away.

By 4pm, the storm was supposed to have moved off us by quite a bit. It didn't. They kept saying, "Two more hours..." Then when two hours passed, it would be "Ok, just another couple of hours now..." The winds had finally shifted, and rain was flooding the back porch.

After all that heavy squeegeeing, I decided to take a nap.

I woke up about an hour and a half later, and Chuckles came into the bedroom from the kitchen. We were talking about how the storm wouldn't quit, and then he went back into the kitchen whilst I shook the sleep from my head.

I hear, "Oh, MY, GOD. What the FUCK???"

Scared the shit out of me. My sleepy heart started racing. "What, Chuck?? WHAT??"

I thought something had gone through the screen, or a cow was flying through our backyard.

"Come out here and see this! HO.LEE.SHIT."

I went out to look through the back door, and saw there was a pile of feathers in the backyard, under the bird feeder.

Chuck said he was just watching the doves eating before he came in to see me when I woke up. Came back out and *poof!* Feathers.

He thinks a hawk swooped down and picked up the dove, or maybe a fox or something. We've had hawks dive-bomb the doves before.

My brother-in-law Steve says it probably just spontaneously combusted from the low pressure from the hurricane. ;)

We ate dinner, and the storm was STILL going. I think it lasted somewhere around 32-34 hours for my area in total? After dinner, we started noticing more and more people out and about. The neighbour on our left called Chuck and said he was driving home from Raleigh, and wanted to check what the house and neighbourhood looked like. His house fared ok. My neighbours Kelly and Karoline were finally venturing outside to survey all of their damage, and we went over to have a couple of beers and bullshit about the hurricane.

The storm was officially over with late yesterday evening, you could just see the edge of the clouds and a little blue sky on the Southern horizon. A cool breeze was blowing. It was actually kind of pretty.

I'm very happy all of my friends are safe. One of them had a tree branch come through her ceiling and crash into her bathroom. She and her husband are ok, but shaken up, understandably.

Look at this crazy shit

So far, nine deaths have been attributed to the storm. Among them, the death of a surfer, a car accident due to hydroplaning, and a dude crushed by a broken tree branch.

I have a few friends in New England, and they're getting hit right now with the tropical storm remnants of Irene. I hope they'll get through it okay as well.

Facebook kept me ridiculously informed during the hurricane. People slam FB, but it was great because I could keep my relatives in Canada in the know, as well as find out information about the rest of my area that I wasn't getting from the news.

Thank you, Internet, for being so awesome.

Thank you Electricity, for staying on.

And a huge thank you to all my friends and family for your concern and well-wishes, it was pretty damn heart-warming.


John Gray said...

glad that another person from blogland is ok!

Alison said...

Glad to hear you survived your first hurricane. It looks like it was pretty typical, at least from the ones I went through while I was living in Massachusetts. That picture of the branch through the bathroom is scary.

I love Facebook for keeping up with friends and family.

Kyna said...

John: Thanks! :D

Alison: Chuck said that the only thing that wasn't typical about it, is the length of time it lasted. He's been here for 30 years, and said it was the longest he's ever been though. But otherwise, it wasn't too bad for us. We're lucky it weakened before it hit us.

Rohrerbot said...

Wow!!! That's a lot of action. The branch in the bathroom. Imagine being on the toilet when that happened??!!! Spare rooms are awesome....extra beds are great. Secretly I love sleeping alone once and awhile. You got a lot of rain. If we had a storm like that in Tucson, I think the entire city would be shut down from all the fallen mesquite blocking the roads. That is some crazy stuff. Thanks for reporting Coop.:) PS. You and Chuckles are the exception to the rules. I think most families can't stand one another...let alone a day!! trapped staring at each other. It also blows my mind. I like hanging out with my other half...just don't want the annoying kids to go along with the picture.:)

Al said...

glad you amd yours came through OK

Liz said...

Hi Kyna,

So glad you hear you're ok; I've been checking to see if you posted.

It looks like you all got off quite lightly - relatively anyway. Except for the crazy-ass tree through the roof. Jesus.

And for the record, I say Pee-can too... I didn't realise there was any other way? :D see, you're English, really haha.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I can hardly stand when we have windstorms here, I can't hardly imagine going through a hurricane. Glad that you didn't have any damage. It was amazing watching the pecan trees and hearing them crack.

The Garden Ms. S said...

Glad you got through it! Worried now about my friends in the Maritimes and hoping it is pretty weak by the time it gets there.
Love that you went for beers with the neighbours. :)

Marguerite said...

So glad to hear that you're all right. Was thinking about you over the last couple days. Irene had pretty much blown out by the time it hit PEI, lots of rain yesterday and lots of wind overnight. Seems to have blown itself out now.

Jess said...

Glad the storm was your friend this time. We take a risk down here most years and I am SOOOO grateful that the storm slowed itself down and didn't crush everyone. It's bad in some places but it could have been exponentially worse.

Whats weird is my cabin in upstate NY got more storm issues than my house 4 blocks from the ocean did here in Charleston. Very weird storm.

Patsi said...

We did fine here in NJ.
Debris all over, no flooding where we live. Hard part was that many roads were closed from Friday morning to Sunday night...trapped in the house eating none stop.

Glad you're OK !

Anonymous said...

Ironically enough, when Irene reaches the area around Iceland over the weekend it will drive up sunny, warm weather to Denmark, so she will actually give us nice weather...

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I'm thinking more drunk party-crasher than house guest ;) Looks like overall you were relatively unscathed, and so glad Irene wasn't more bad tempered. I'm impressed you kept power, my mother only just had hers restored this afternoon up in New England. I'm glad your friends were ok, I must admit, I love the look of some of the natural eco-decor, but a large tree limb across the bathroom isn't quite the look I'd go for!

The Idiot Gardener said...

That's one you can cross off the list! It's quite cool how much 'stormology' you learn when you're in one. When we were in Ketsana by the end (it was about four days in total) I was a storm bore!

I knew you'd survive; people born on the 31st have much messier ends!!!