It’s 5:05pm as I write this, (and cross our fingers), our flight 2505 from Orlando to Dallas that we just boarded will depart shortly. While the title sounds a bit dramatic; i.e. shades of a modern day ‘Casablanca’, the Orlando airport is scheduled to close at 6pm tonight due to impending Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew is predicted to hit landfall in South Florida shortly, and is working its way up the coast where it will be heading our way by midnight. The airport is virtually a ghost town right now, as all the flights tomorrow are canceled, and what few flights this evening that are still running had many people changing their flights to earlier or staying at home.
I got home last evening from Memphis after a quick 3 day business trip there. While I normally ride to the airport with DOS on Mondays and get picked up on Fridays, I drove this week as I got home on Wednesday. I realized I only had half a tank of gas, and needed food for the one night at home. I broke my own rule of always having a full tank of gas, cash, and all electronic devices fully charged; none of which I had done this trip. When I left for Memphis on Monday Hurricane Matthew was brewing in the Caribbean, but it wasn’t predicted to hit Florida, so I didn’t think much about it.
Well as luck or Murphy’s Law luck would hold, the hurricane changed direction and is heading directly for the Florida east coast, and Central Florida. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach airports closed yesterday, and Orlando’s and Jacksonville’s are closing tonight.
We were scheduled to fly to DFW tomorrow (Friday) night, spending the night, and then flying out at 11am on Saturday to Kauai. Fortunately we were able to change our flight to DFW on Thursday night, even though it will require staying in Dallas for two nights to make our connecting flight to Hawaii on Saturday. No problem there as long as we get out; I can work Friday in my DFW airport hotel room.
On the way home, I couldn’t find any gas stations that had gas. The radio stations as announced news of doom and gloom; rather unerving. Furthermore, the grocery stores shelves were completely bare of the essential items of water, bread, batteries etc. As we always have plenty of bottled water we were fine, and I just needed food for one night so I got a steak to grill out for my ‘last meal’ at home before the hurricane. Here is our local Public grocery store showing empty shelves, although there were plenty of frozen foods left – no one was buying them because of the expected power outage for several days.
We got to the airport early in the afternoon expecting massive crowds both at the airport and on the roadways. We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s in the terminal, overlooking the few planes that were still there, and this luggage cart that was left unattended, soaking all of the luggage! Can you believe that – no wonder why our luggage gets wet sometimes! They could at least cover it up with a tarp.
Later . . . We are now airborne, and just finished our meal on the flight. We are in 3D and F on this brand new A321, with ‘sharkettes’ on the wings, and individual TV’s. But I’m going to backtrack just a bit for now.
This morning I had a dentist appointment at 10:15am as I’ve still having trouble with one of my teeth, (actually the gum issue on my upper mouth) and can’t get to the specialist until later this month. My excellent dentist I have been going to for 18 years, had called in an antibiotic for me this week, and still wanted to see me, where he prescribed another week prescription as we will be in Hawaii for a week. They, and most of Orlando were closing up at noon – even Disneyworld was closing so you know you have a serious hurricane problem – so I’m glad I was able to see the dentist. And another plus I found a gas station open that actually had gas! I actually said a short prayer at the pump – thank you God for gas! Such little things you take for granted, but as I only had 1/2 a tank of gas, and who knows how long we will be without power, this was significant, even as we were heading out of town.
The roads today were surprisingly not real busy. All of the schools were closed, and many businesses, and most people seemed to have left early yesterday to stock up on the supplies, as seen by the empty water and bread racks at Publix grocery. Also, I think many people evacuated from the coast yesterday as well. Hurricane Matthew is a serious category 3 -4 storm with winds exceeding 100 mph. Even in Orlando nearly 50 miles from the coast, we’re expecting major winds and gusts up to 75-80mph.
I cleaned up around the yard the best that I could, picking up anythings that could double as an airborne missile, such as solar lamps and tiki torches. I also took a lot of things in by the pool as well. Steve (DOS) came to the house a day earlier on Wed night too, due to the expected traffic and uncertainty of the storm. I didn’t board up my windows though as my next for neighbors did.
Today, while I was at the dentist, DOS cleaned up the pool area even more, ‘toppling’ the Eiffel Tower and Palm Trees (so they wouldn’t blow over) and moved the tables and chairs. The back porch and pool area already looks like it got hit by a hurricane!
Hope that things stay reasonable put. We also secured the double front doors with a steel rod, as the doors blew inward 11 years ago during hurricane Charley. I was out of my home for over four months when that happened due to the collapse of the roof. That was in late 2004, and at one of the worst possible times in my life, I met Steve (DOS) in January 2005. Wow – how life can change on a dime!
So anyway, we have another 45 minutes before landing in DFW. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency for the next couple nights. My neighbors are watching my home for me, and we will talk to them along the way. Ben and Tom should be to Maui by now, as they left this morning.
While we’re still quite apprehensive about leaving town for Hawaii, we planned this months ago, and all we can do at this point is expect the worst, but hope for the best. Ready or not, Aloha here we come!