Thoughts on Hurricane Matthew

It’s really hard to describe the roller coaster ride the last few days have been so I guess I’ll just start at the beginning. Early last week, we got our hurricane supply kits out to make sure everything had been restocked from Hurricane Hermine. I know. It feels like we were just cleaning up all the limb debris from that storm too. We gassed up the cars on Tuesday night and headed to the grocery store sure the storm would miss us. Once we got home, we checked the weather report before going to bed and there was nothing more than heavy rain bands and tropical storm warnings forecasted for our area. Then Wednesday came…

Wednesday morning, we woke up to coastal winds that had picked up significantly and rain that hadn’t stopped falling for a few days. We saw elected officials on TV and weather authorities saying the track of Hurricane Matthew had wobbled east overnight and the storm would be closer to the coastline than previously anticipated. Next came the evacuation orders…

When you live on a tiny secluded island with one way in and one way out, you know in advance you’re taking a bit of a risk living so close to the water. You know you’re living in a flood and debris zone. You know your house cannot be built without hurricane straps. You know your insurance policy will require you to have hurricane shutters. You also know you’re going to be evacuated before anyone else because you live in Zone A. And yet when you heard those words…mandatory evacuation…it’s a heart racing experience even though you know the risks well in advance.

It took a good part of the Wednesday to clear everything off the front porch and back patio. I mean hours. It was all but dark by the time we got the hurricane shutters on the house. It rained the entire time. At this point we still had electricity so we immediately started packing valuables into plastic bins, securing important papers, packing up food and making last minute preparations unsure how much longer the lights would stay on.

We woke up before sunrise on Thursday morning and loaded the last of the belongings in our cars. It’s really surprising the things you choose leave behind when you’re faced with decisions like these. The only noise on the island was from wind, rain and the sound of our drill as we put the last panel of our hurricane shutters on the front door…

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I can’t even tell you how eerie it is to see your home like this with no idea what you’ll find when you get home…

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We headed to Loblolly Manor about 2 ½ hours from our home as per our evacuation plan. We were sitting on I-10 when I heard my parents and sisters were also being evacuated just an hour south of our home. It actually didn’t come as a big surprise because the highways were already filling up…

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Several hours later, we all made it safely to Loblolly to ride out the storm. If you’re wondering if 8 adults, 2 small children and 4 dogs was a circus I can confirm it was a welcome distraction. By Friday night, we were searching for pictures/posts/updates really anything we could find on our respective cities. The coverage of the flooding and damage was so hard to watch. It was around midnight when I found this picture on a community Facebook post (via L.Balll) that stopped me in my tracks completely…

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The road you see pictured above is the only road on and off the island. We were getting messages of the bridge being washed out and the entire island being under 3 feet of water. No one had had any power since Thursday. There were reports of trees blocking roads and debris scattered everywhere. The scariest part about that photo is we live at least 2 miles or more from the bridge. Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep that night at all. I was just too sick with worry.

The day we left Loblolly to come home and assess the damage, we had no idea if we could get on the island or even to our home. I didn’t care if I had to leave my car on the side of the road and walk miles through water or marsh to get there. I just knew, that I knew, that I knew, I would not be able to rest until I could see the house for myself. I needed to lay eyes on the home we had spent so much time, money and energy creating no matter what state it was in. The closer we got to the island the more we saw scenes like this and realized not one house we passed had power…

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We got to the bridge and thankfully, the downed trees and power lines seen in the bridge photo had been moved to one side of the road. All that remained was remnants of storm surge. Further down the road, we saw debris so thick in some places we were driving down the middle of the lane just to get through. Everything was piled up on both sides of the road.

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By the time we pulled into the driveway and I saw our home had been spared, I was overcome with a gratefulness I honestly haven’t felt in a long time. I sat in my car sobbing from a mix of exhaustion and joy. It still gives me chills just thinking about it.

The yard is a total mess from flooding,

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we have multiple trees down all over the property,

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there is sand and grit all over the hurricane shutters,

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the house got pelted with wind and rain so long, it’s still not completely dry days later,

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the dining room looked like this earlier today. PS – that is not a potty you see in the front. I would NEVER show you guys that…it’s a dog food container.

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But all of those things are nothing compared to the loss of life, damage and devastation Hurricane Matthew has caused for millions of people up and down the East Coast, Haiti and the Bahamas. The scenes are heartbreaking.

My soul has been touched at how many of you checked on us during the storm. It is overwhelming and humbling all at the same time. Truly, I am grateful for each one of you and your sweet messages. They mean more to me than I could ever convey.

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If I haven’t responded to you already, I will be checking in with you guys soon. I know some of you have lost everything, some no longer have bedrooms or furniture because a tree fell on your house. I know that some including my own family members are still without power, gas for the generator and water is in short supply. I know some of your businesses have been flooded and the thought of rebuilding both a home and a business at the same time is numbing.

At the height of the storm when I couldn’t sleep I got an interesting message at 3 am. It simply said “I lived through Katrina. I’m with you.” It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it but that is my declaration to the readers and friends that support this blog every single day…”I’m with you.”

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In the next few days, weeks and months to come we’re going to be partnering with other businesses and agencies to support the people and families that have been devastated by the storm. Please let me know what you guys need so we can find a way to help you if possible. This sweet girl, I have no idea who she is, was collecting shells to take to her classmates. Melt my heart.

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If you’re reading this thinking, “What can I do to help?” there are many ways to support those in need. Here’s a quick list of things you can do…

  • The Red Cross has already started mobilizing volunteers across the affected areas. They have several ways you can donate your time, money or other resources via their website.
  • Help clear storm debris with other community volunteers.
  • Help your family/friends/neighbors by making dinner, washing clothes, babysitting, pet sitting, grocery shopping or cleaning out storm affected areas around their houses.
  • Donate food, water or gently used clothing items to community organizations that are assisting hurricane and flood victims.
  • Donate school supplies and toys to families/schools that have been affected by the storm.
  • Buy lunch for your local power company employees. They’ve been working around the clock to restore power.
  • Offer to take a family member/friend/neighbor on a coffee date. This is a stressful time and trusted friends are a gift.
  • Leave notes and care packages for those affected by the storm. They still need support when everyone else has gotten back to “normal.”
  • Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs. You may be able to connect them with support services they’re not aware of.
  • Donate your time, money and talents to the Humane Society

I know this process is going to take time. It’s like building a house, it doesn’t happen overnight. I’m hoping to post more now that we’re home, our power has been restored and we’ve started cleaning up. I have a few posts from before the storm that I should be able to share this week. Thank you so much for your patience with everything. I didn’t want today to go by without giving you guys an update nor did I want to disrespect the people that are still hurting with a “business as usual” post.

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I truly believe we all have gifts to give and a part of ourselves we can offer those in our communities and for me, that includes compassionate blog content. Please let me know what you guys need. I’m here for you.

Many blessings,

CoCo

Comments

  1. says

    CoCo – you know that we love you both. We are so grateful that you are safe and that your beautiful home was spared. We too have family and friends in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina that have suffered greatly from this horrific storm. We hope that everyone affected knows that that are loved – and not alone.

    • says

      I know you guys know the panic and helpless feelings after having survived Hurricane Andrew! This has been one of the scariest experiences of my life. Thanks so much for all of your sweet messages of care, concern and encouragement throughout the evacuation, storm and clean up process. They mean so much. My heart grieves for the flood victims in the Carolinas. It’s one thing to survive a hurricane, it’s another to have to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane plus rising flood waters. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help your friends and family members. We’re here for them! Hugs, CoCo

  2. says

    What part of Florida you live what is the name of tha Island you live we live north side of Miami closed county line we have a lot of rain thank God nothing happen
    Lot of work I’m glad you are ok as well your family
    Living in Florida is allways the same thing
    Blesding
    Isora

    • says

      Isora, I’m so glad you guys are ok! I was worried when it looked like the storm was going to hit the Palm Beach area and you guys would be affected. You are so right, it doesn’t matter if you’re living in North Florida like I am or in South Florida like you are hurricanes are definitely scary. We are both so blessed! Hugs, CoCo

  3. says

    …so many have been effected by the storm. We are thankful, so many of our bloggers are okay. And we are hopeful that repairs to lives and property can be made. Things aren’t important, but families and friends are. Sandi

    • says

      Speak to my heart, Sandi, you are so right! We feel very blessed to have made it through this storm and will definitely be holding each other a little bit tighter. Thanks so much for your sweet words, they are always appreciated. Hugs, CoCo

  4. Sally says

    I’ve been thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. We live in Clermont. Had high winds, but no damage. Whew, my heart goes out to all. Will be checking out the best way to help out and volunteer. Thanks for the update. So glad you and yours are ok.

    • says

      Oh my goodness, Sally, you totally understand what this is like since you live in Clermont! The waiting for the weather report to see if this massive storm is going to “wobble” is nuts, right? but you totally have to do it. We feel so blessed to be back home and ready to help others. I’m really glad you guys are ok too especially with the high winds. They are no joke. Thanks so much for your willingness to help and concern for us. It means so much. Hugs, CoCo

  5. says

    Oh Coco I am so thankful to hear you are well and made it through. I was thinking about you as we watched coverage wondering if you were affected. I can’t begin to fathom what the process will be like to begin putting the pieces of your life back together but I do know that my prayers are with you. I can only imagine what a long and arduous process this will be but your positive attitude is a testament to all that is good in this world. Please know that despite being many miles and another country away you are all I n our thoughts and prayers. And please, if there is anything at all that I can do for YOU do not ever, ever hesitate to ask. Please keep us updated when you are able. Sending lots of love and prayers!!💙

    • says

      I really appreciate it, Lisa, thank you so much! We took all of the hurricane shutters down but the ones on the dormers and I was like NO WAY are we taking those off until hurricane season has officially ended ha ha. It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride the past week but we feel immensely blessed to be home. Sending you big hugs and thank yous for all of your care, concern and willingness to help. I hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one and your family made tons of fun memories, CoCo

  6. Martha says

    I am so thankful you and your family are safe. I was very concerned about you but do not know exactly where you are.
    Nevertheless, I worried. Your blog is such a special read for me each day.

    • says

      You melt my heart, Martha, thank you! As a 6th generation Floridian we’ve been through plenty of storms over the years but I swear you just never really get used to them. I really appreciate your care and concern for us. Your kind words always mean so much to me. Hugs, CoCo

  7. Linda says

    I’m so glad you and your family are safe. I’m in Texas and lived through Celia in 1970 with a 6-week old baby – it is SCARY. Know we are all with you in spirit.

    • says

      Thank you so much for understanding, Linda. You are so right, it is scary and I can only imagine the thoughts going through your head with a 6-week-old baby. We are definitely glad the past few days have been much calmer and are feeling very blessed 🙂 Sending you hugs, CoCo

  8. says

    Coco, I’m so glad your damage was minimal. I can’t imagine the rollercoaster of emotions you’ve experienced these past few days. Thank you for sharing this and for the list of ways we can help those going through the headache and heartbreak of the aftermath. Hugs sweet friend!!!

    • says

      I so appreciate you, Angie! It does feel like it has been a rollercoaster ride the past few days for sure. We’re definitely feeling really blessed right now and will do everything we can possibly do to pass those blessings on to others that will be dealing with the aftermath for weeks and months to come. Thanks so much for all of your love and prayers. Hugs, CoCo

    • says

      Goodness gracious, Liz, it feels like we won the lottery! Thanks so much for all of your sweet prayers, care and concern. They mean so much to me. Hugs, CoCo PS: Tally’s painting has been safely returned to the office 🙂

    • says

      No truer words have been spoken, LiLi, we are a strong community of givers is right! So happy your power and water have been restored. Let me know how we can help with the cleanup efforts. Love and hugs, CoCo

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