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I Want to Break Up With You, Matthew

I usually love purple.  I wasn't so happy to see I live in the purple zone, though.

I live in Central Florida, so theoretically, hurricanes aren't a big threat.  I've experienced four major hurricanes but this is the first since 2005.  And according to the news media, this will be the biggest, by far.

To let you share in the fun, I thought I'd document the process as I experience it.

The Build Up - preparations and media

On Monday, there was mention in the media that a hurricane was heading our way.  Early on Tuesday morning I checked several national news sources as well as the Orlando Sentinel.  I found no mention of the hurricane.  A few hours later it was front page news.  Media coverage quickly ratcheted up to nonstop coverage of the coming mayhem.


At 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, I headed to Walmart to get bottled water, a new flashlight and a few grocery items.  At that point, the media was projecting the hurricane hitting on Friday.  When I arrived, the parking lot at Walmart was jammed.  When I walked in there was a man wheeling a pallet of water toward the back of the store.  I asked for a case.  As I was dumping it in my cart, several other people also took cases from the pallet.  He never made it five feet before the water was gone.  By the time I walked to the "water aisle" at the back of the store, the shelves looked like Mrs. Hubbard's cupboard.
No water at Walmart.

More empty shelves that used to hold water.  Note that there is still plenty of wine on the shelf behind.  That changed by Thursday.
In addition to the water shortage, the shelf which once contained flashlights was almost empty.  Luckily for me, I snagged a beauty.  Then I meandered over to the food aisles.  Most of the canned meats were gone, but there was a plethora of tuna.  Luckily I prefer tuna to cold, canned mystery meat.

The snack aisle was also hit hard.  I can't say this with scientific certainty, but based on my observations at this particular Walmart, Central Floridian's favorite hurricane snack is pork rinds.  Clearly, I'm not a typical Central Floridan.
We say yes to pork rinds and no to salsa.
After shopping, I cruised by Sam's, since I decided I should have gotten another case of water.  Like Walmart, it was packed.  Luckily, I got one of the last cases of water.  I should now be set with water for at least a week.  Food is covered for about a month.  The experts suggest having enough food on hand for 3 days.  I have 3 days of food with me when I walk to the mailbox, just in case.

After Sam's I filled up the car with gas and got cash from an ATM.  I didn't have any problems getting gas or cash but today noticed several gas stations were either out of gas or had long lines.

Back home, I brought all the outside furniture and "stuff" into the house.  The lightweight plastic furniture I just tossed in the pool.  I also lowered to pool about four inches in anticipation of lots of rain.  I started to vacuum and then realized that if my roof is going to blow off tomorrow, do I really need a clean floor?  On the other hand, I'm very optimistic that my roof will remain where it is and I'll be stuck with dirty floors for the week or so until power comes back.  I can almost guarantee that the power will go out.  In every other hurricane it's been out for at least five days.

I did not prepare bags of ice as many friends were doing.  After two years without ice in Peace Corps, a week of room temperature beverages is no big deal.  I also did not set up my washer as a makeshift bar, full of ice, beer and wine.  I did use my washer to wash one last load of clothes.  

The media rhetoric is increasing.  The local Fox station has been almost exclusively covering only hurricane Matthew.  That must really piss off The Donald.


And It Begins - the rain

Thursday night

The rain started in earnest about 6:00 p.m.  By 8:00 p.m., I headed out in a torrential downpour to lower the pool again.  In previous hurricanes this has also happened.  In those, I started going out fully clothed (every 3 hours, all night).  After the second time, I decided that was ridiculous and just went out naked (my backyard is fenced).  I figured if peeping Toms were out in that weather, they deserved the view.   So far, I'm staying clothed but I make no promises about what I'll do at 2:00 a.m.

I'm estimating we've had 4-5 inches of rain in the last couple of hours.  That's just from the "feeder bands".  The eye of the storm isn't expected to hit the coast for another 12 hours.  The ground is already saturated and my fear is that the pool will overflow and flood my house.  Tomorrow morning, I'll probably be more concerned about the roof blowing off or windows blowing in.  It's always nice to have a variety of things to worry about.

While I was looking out to monitor the water level on the pool deck, my porch light went out.  At the very beginning of the storm.  It has worked faithfully for 22 years.  Happily, my new flashlight is working well.  The front porch light, which I don't really need right now, is working fine.  I know because I could see the large frog lounging on my front porch, watching the rain.

I've been watching the pool level as water is pumped out.  It's taking forever to get lower.  But I'm keeping entertained watching an old season of Survivor.  I'm building up my knowledge of how to make fire, just in case.

I'm home alone and a bit nervous, to be honest.  Friends were kind enough to invite me to stay with them but I prefer to freak out in private.  Oops, I meant keep an eye on the house. I've got Mr. Kindle charged and ready, along with a couple of paperbacks for daytime hours so I can save on Mr. Kindle's battery after the power goes off.

The news reports don't help. Shepard Smith, a weather person for the fine Fox Network, announced that if the storm came even 20 miles inland, we would all die.  Our kids would die.  No one could survive.  Well thanks for your encouragement, Shepard.  At least you could have stopped grinning while announcing that I was going to die tomorrow.  His announcement made me glad I had Mexican food for dinner.  If I'm dying, I want cheese enchiladas in my belly, not kale and tofu.  Yes, I've been dieting but I believe it is a law of nature that calories do not count during a hurricane.

It's 9:00 p.m. now and the rain has slowed.  The lightening and thunder have gone away and according to the satellite map, we should get a break from the rain for a couple of hours.  The wind hasn't started yet. 

9:30 p.m. and the wind and rain are both picking up.  Luckily, the short break gave my patio drain a chance to catch up from the earlier downpour.  And, the porch light came back on.  Then went out again.  Just adds to the excitement.

I love the way companies are responding to the hurricane.  Geico sent me an email yesterday saying they have my back and giving the number to call if I need to file a claim for damage to my car from the storm.  I just got an email from Duke Energy offering helpful advice...they're suggesting I plan an evacuation route and purchase supplies.  Good advice but a wee bit late, given that the storm is underway, businesses have been closed for hours and a 25 hour mandatory curfew starts at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

It's 10:30 p.m. and Mr. Kindle and I are headed to bed.  After a lull in the wind and rain, they're back.  The wind is definitely stronger.  It should provide comforting white noise to help me sleep.  I plan to dream of sunshine and white beaches with very tiny waves.


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