The Traveling Steve's

Hurricane Irma – a Week Later . . .

I’ve been mostly out of it technology-wise, or else to busy to blog lately due to Hurricane Irma. A quick post to say we are alright, and weathered the storm fairly well. I had some roof shingles come off and a bit of a leak in the kitchen, as well as a broken bottle-brush tree in the front yard and some other shrubs go down, but thankfully that was all. 

 In my last post I had photos of the damage to my home from 2004 caused by Hurricane Charley, and Irma was a major category 5 storm the size of Florida, so we were blessed to not have catastrophic damage like we were expecting.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the lest fortunate areas, especially the islands of Barbuda and St. Martin in the Caribbean.

My neighbor Kenny helped me board up the house prior to Irma, and that no doubt saved the house from damage from the horrific winds. A week ago tonight (Sunday), I was camped out at my neighbors Kenny and Mary, as we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.

I stayed with Kenny and Mary as they have a generator, and I do not. Meanwhile, Steve (DOS) was with his Father at his home in Sarasota.  Kenny, Mary and I had a light dinner at home, before losing power around 6:30pm.  The worst of the hurricane was not supposed to hit our area of Orlando until 2am, and we had already lost power at 6:30pm from the rain and winds; not a good sign. We would be without power for four days until Thursday, and we were the lucky ones as many people throughout Florida are still without power a week later.

I don’t have many photos of the hurricane obviously as we were in the dark, and it was quite a sleepless night.  I had brought my radio over, and we listened to it intently all night long, while the storm howled and rattled the boarded up doors and windows.  There were many tornado warnings and a few touched down in the metro-Orlando area, and it was quite unnerving every time the tornado sirens went off.

By mid-morning on Monday it was safe (enough) to walk outside and do a quick survey of the damage.  Surprisingly it was fairly minimal, although there were power lines down across the road, many trees down, and some of Kenny and Mary’s fence was blown out.  It was still gusty with winds and occasional rain by noon, and Kenny’s grille, which had been on his patio all night long without moving, got blown off the porch by a late morning wind gust!

I lost a few shingles on the house and have a small leak, but no broken windows or even blown out pool screens, which a couple of my neighbors experienced.  My pet unicorn float served as a good barrier for the poolside-facing windows.

By late afternoon, most of the neighborhood was out cleaning up the tree branches and piling the other debris curbside. 

The photo below is one of my neighbors at the end of the street that lost this huge tree – the base is taller than he is!

Kenny helped me later in the afternoon taking down the plywood from my windows, and he used one of the pieces to temporarily secure his fence.  The biggest obstacle of all however, was the lack of power, which in the hot Florida sun, made it miserable to be inside the house, much less sleep at night.  Power lines were down everywhere throughout the neighborhood.

I sweated it out a couple days, before heading to the Hyatt Regency Orlando to stay for a few days, as the power was going to be out for at least a week we were texted via Duke Energy.  

While the power actually came back on Thursday, earlier than expected, I am so glad I went to the Hyatt to be more comfortable with power and especially air conditioning.  I saw quite a few other people from Florida in the same situation, including a lady and her family from our Church.

Steve (DOS) had only a bit of screen damage by his pool at his house in Sarasota, so he joined me in Orlando on Thursday afternoon.  We had a nice meal that night at Del Frisco’s, a short (but very wet walk) from the hotel.   We walked out to Del Frisco’s for our 7:30pm reservation, and the remnants of the hurricane rains must have come thru.  Even with umbrellas we were both soaked!  We managed to have a nice meal, but I got up to stand by the fireplace a few times, just trying to dry off!  LOL!

On Friday, afternoon, DOS and I flew up to Roanoke, Virginia to stay with my parents for a week. My Dad had a terrible fall a few days ago, and was just released from the hospital to the rehabilitation center.  Dad has 8 broken ribs and a broken collarbone – incredibly painful, but fortunately he’s on some heavy pain meds.  He will probably be in the rehab center for six weeks or so, and we wanted to help Mom and family out as much as possible.

We flew American from Orlando to Charlotte, and had a 3 hour layover in Charlotte, which was nice and relaxing.  We went to a wine bar in the airport to have a sit down meal, and were pleasantly surprised that they offered some nice quality wines by the ounce (3, 6, or 9), so we made our own wine flight.  We shared 3 ounces of Caymus and Heitz, (both Cabernets) and a Howell Mountain Merlot, and a 3 ounce glass of Far Niente – exquisite Chardonnay.

On our second flight from Charlotte to Roanoke, we hit the jackpot, playing airline-bumping bingo.  The flight was on a Dash-8, but it was downgraded from a smaller version of the Dash-8 at the last minute, so it was oversold by four people.  We didn’t hear the announcements that it was oversold, so we boarded the plane and waited to leave.  Shortly before departure, however, the gate agent supervisor boarded the plane and said they offered the oversold compensation for $1,000 a person, plus an overnight hotel stay!  One thousand dollars a person – for a short 45 minute flight!  Thank  you United Airlines, I wrote in Facebook, for the way you roughed up that passenger a few months ago for not giving up his seat and dragging him off the plane.  “No we didn’t fly United, but now all the Airlines are much more generous (and scared) of bumping people so they offer much more incentive to do so.”

DOS and I both volunteered, as did two other passengers, and we each received $1,000 American Airlines credit – that’s the highest I’ve ever received, and on the shorted flight to have been bumped on.  I haven’t bumped myself in years because the flights are always full and you might be delayed a long time, plus the compensation usually isn’t that high; $200 to $300 maximum.  A thousand dollars when you have some flexibility in travel plans is awesome!

We stayed overnight at the airline provided hotel; the not so wonderful Wyndham Garden Hotel, but it was free and only for one night.  

We walked to Chili’s Restaurant, before heading back to the hotel and sleep.  Tomorrow we will continue our journey onto Roanoke.  For now, we are so glad to have made it thru the hurricane, and are looking forward to being in Roanoke for a few days with the family.  Oh, and I almost forgot; as in the Bible after Noah’s flood – we saw the symbol of closure after the storm, seeming to say ‘You guys made it thru fine’, and I’m watching from above!


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