Well, the “only” category 1 hurricane that hit us was terrifying. No one is saying Irma was “anticlimactic” now.
It started to get bad close to midnight, but it was only going to get worse. I had stayed up until that point but figured I could get a couple hours since my husband was up. I got about 2.5 hours until flashes woke me up. It was bright enough to wake me and adrenaline hit me instantly because I don’t remember ever seeing lightening during hurricanes before. I ran to the window to see what was going on. The sky flashed bright green. I had no idea what it was. As it continued to flash and got farther away, it looked like lightening underneath a very thick layer of dark clouds. I didn’t know green lightening existed and it was very eerie seeing into the hurricane as its clouds were illuminated from within. I also wondered what it meant. The frogs that I didn’t know lived in my neighborhood were loud and happy and my weather radio was silent so I figured it wasn’t a tornado.
This was probably the worst part of the night between 2:30 and 3:30am. The rain was pounding on the windows with such force, it sounded it like the glass would shatter from the water alone. Not to mention the clinking sounds that were also hitting the glass. Maybe it was hail, or debris or dirt? It was loud and powerful and I expected the glass to come crashing in at any second.
It was oddly quiet though. If you expect a hurricane to be like a thunderstorm, it’s not. There was no thunder, just a howling wind. Every now and then you would hear the sound of something breaking or banging. Then of course there was the blare of my weather radio that would make me jump out of my skin every time. It was constantly going off after 3am. Mostly for flash flood warnings, which luckily don’t effect us. What I was really looking for was a tordado warning.
We were of course under a tornado watch because it was a hurricane but a tornado warning is our signal to wake everyone up and shelter in place. I was ready to grab my babies and run to our like designated area at any moment. My dads house was hit by a tornado a couple of months ago and it gave a healthy fear of them. It was just a regular thunderstorm that produced a small tornado but it was instant destruction that threw a tree from another street into his house. The tornados from Irma were bigger. I had my weather radio which has imprecise location alerts and then I had my cellphone which is much more precise with gps. We got a tornado warning around 4 am and my heart stopped. Seeing those words on the screen were my biggest fear. I was just waiting for the alert on my cellphone to grab everyone and run. Luckily, it was a few miles away so I didn’t have to panic.
While everyone else slept, or mostly slept. I watched the trees bend and the world get pressure washed. I listened to the radio tell me about the wind speeds and tornados and the upcoming path. I watched the lights flicker expecting to lose power at any moment. Around 5am, I was spent. I had built a trust with my radio alerts that I decided to close my eyes until my babies woke up me at 7:30 am.
It felt like a new day and everything had happened in another life, but we were still in the storm. Just a storm with daylight. Something about the daylight made everything look safer and people started to go out their front doors to survey the damage. The storm wouldn’t be completely gone until around noon but it had weakened of course. I didn’t see any damage to my house (from the inside) but part of my fence was down and there were large branches everywhere. There was a huge branch that looks like it just missed our car and a huge branch that just missed our house. We were insanely lucky. We hadn’t lost power, there was no damage to our house, and there was no flooding locking us in our house. You can’t help but be in reverent awe of the power of a storm like that and then not greatful that your family is still safe. I wanted to cry and just hug my family.
All morning my phone went crazy with texts as everyone checked in on everyone and compared damage. We got calls from china with people wanting to go check on their relatives (our friends) because they can’t get in contact with them. My husband wanted to do it but I had to explain that he couldn’t. Bridges were still closed, we were still in a hurricane, we didn’t know which roads were flooded, and we didn’t know where there were downed power lines in standing water. I couldn’t get in touch with so many people, including my parents, but there was nothing I could do. Most of the city and state was without power and there were downed cell towers, I just had to trust that was the reason for the radio silence.
While it’s true the worst had past and the storm no longer had its former strength, it really wasn’t over until noon. There was a lot more damage to be done between 10:30 and noon. There was debris everywhere and trees were weakened after taking a beating for 12 hours. The still powerful wind continued to blow things into our house with regular waps and bangs. The branches just kept coming down. Once it was finally over and the wind finally stopped, I finally got a chance to sleep.
Not over yet. I woke up around 2:30 pm and my phone was blowing up again. I was so concerned with my immediately family that I had completely missed what had happened to the city. My first clue that something was wrong was a message from my office that they are staying closed tomorrow as well. I’m incredibly greatful because I’m tired and worried about my parents and have a yard to clean up, but its now bright and sunny out and it’s an incredibly expensive decision for the office to stay closed. That’s when I turned on the news on and found out the city is flooded. There’s recoded flooding the city hasn’t seen on 200 years and people are going out on boats. The rivers flooded and we have a lot of rivers. They closed schools on Wednesday too. When I fell asleep for my nap, I was at peace that we had stayed safe but when I woke up I realized that normal is still not here yet.