We drove into Venice about 5:00 yesterday evening and stopped at one of our favorite local restaurants for dinner before we went home. It was an easy ride home (minimal traffic and plenty of gas) and we were thrilled to come into Venice, to see working stoplights and trees still standing and then to drive into our driveway and see a house still standing, oh my. We walked in to air conditioning, lights, Internet, Cable…could anything be more wonderful? Trust me, I take nothing for granted!
We were bone tired last night but needed to at least begin to put things back in order. Jerry took down hurricane shutters while I dealt with unpacking and getting the house back to normal.
This morning we were really back to normal…to yoga, to breakfast with friends, to the car wash (those love bugs in Alabama and Mississippi were disgusting) and to the grocery store for enough food to carry us through till tomorrow. Everything in the fridge and freezer is heading for the trash. We have no idea how long we were out of power and we don’t want to take any chances. So sad…Ditwilers had a sale on New York strip and shrimp a week before we left and we loaded up! And when I make spaghetti sauce, I make a huge pot and freeze it in zip lock bags and it lasts us forever. Just did that about a week before Irma. Sigh. But when I think of how bad it could have been, I know we got off easy.
Breakfast today was fun. Everyone at the table had stayed except us and we shared Irma stories…theirs of riding it out, ours of traveling north praying we’d find gas. And if we had it to do over again, we’d do the same. And if they had it to do over again, they’d do the same. The hardest part was making the decision. After that, you just put one foot in front of the other and tried not to do anything too stupid.
I know a couple in their 80s who ended up sleeping on the floor at a shelter in North Port (Heron Creek Middle School) and said the experience was lovely. And people in Englewood who put on a huge dinner for first responders and those who were restoring power to the town. And local restaurants and grocery stores that were grilling burgers and passing out food to workers and anyone who had lost power. People slept on neighbors’ couches and in their extra bedrooms. Neighbors with power offered freezer space to those without. A friend evacuated, came home and then turned around with her husband and four kids to go to Georgia to help her grandmother who property was filled with debris and downed trees. People took care of snowbirds’ houses. Friends of ours came over after the storm to get a package that was delivered just before the hurricane. It had survived the storm on our front porch.
There are still people without power. One friend in Naples has a generator running her refrigerator and bought a window air conditioner for the master bedroom. Schools in Naples won’t open for another week. Too many of them still don’t have power. Schools in our county open tomorrow and believe me, kids and parents are cheering!
I saw a friend at yoga today who still doesn’t have power.
I’m fine, she said. I have a great flashlight and a good book. And I bought a deck of cards so I could play solitaire. Sometimes it gets hot but it’s not THAT bad. (That girl is tough!)
We worked in the yard today but we’re pretty sure our neighbors (the same ones who boarded me up in 2005 when Wilma was coming and I was alone) did some major cleaning in our yard when they did their own, including trimming some trees with their chain saw. We haven’t seen them around today to talk with them. They usually spend Sunday in church. But we know we owe them “bigly”. Hopefully we’ll see them tomorrow to thank them. Still trying to figure out HOW to thank them.
We were lucky in so many ways. Our house is fine. And we had a wonderful visit with Erin and Brent and the kids…nice bonus visit that we loved. We are well aware that many were not so lucky. I see the pictures of the islands in the Caribbean and Key West and know we dodged a major bullet. And I know how Houston has been since Harvey hit. As I said, we were lucky.
Below is a picture of our neighborhood. Everyone has been busy clearing out debris and putting it near the street. Waste Management has been doing an incredible job of picking things up as fast as they can. The number of people who’ve been working and are still working round the clock to get everyone back to normal boggles my mind. Never doubt how many good people there are everywhere.