IRMA | Tuesdays with Jacob


September 12, 2017

Whew. We finally have some internet so I can share the last few days with you. What a whirl wind, literally. 

Tuesday was a blur, I dropped Jacob off for his first day of pre-school with minimal tears and then headed into work a little late. Everyone was buzzing about the hurricane, but nothing official had been decided. I left work Tuesday unsure whether we would have school the rest of the week, since the largest hurricane ever recorded was quickly spinning towards us. One the way home I heard on the radio that the two counties south of us had cancelled school for Thursday and Friday, and I figured we would probably follow suit. By the time I got home, we had. Dan and I quickly booked a flight for Jacob and I to Michigan, since going through a category 4 or 5 with a young child sounded horrific. It wasn't without challenges, since nearly every flight out of the state was sold out. We finally found one leaving from Orlando (2 1/2 hours away) on Thursday around noon. 

I taught half a class on Wednesday, securing my classroom before leaving. Dan put up our shutters while I was at work and by the time I got home on Wednesday Irma had weakened a little and our anxiety about the Orlando flight was growing. We would have to leave in the middle of the night that night, as soon as Dan got off work. Even if I drove there, he would have to drive home on no sleep. If we ran into traffic we could miss the flight, and if we didn't I would be stuck at the airport with Jacob for nearly 10 hours. When we sat down and assessed the situation we realized we were both more worried about the Orlando flight than the storm itself. So we cancelled it just under 24 hours after we made it, getting a full refund. Dan went to work Wednesday night and it began to sink in to me that we'd be staying here and riding out a major storm with Jacob. Storm anxiety is one thing, but momma storm anxiety is a whole nother ballgame. I began to worry immediately that we'd made the wrong choice and that this would be stressful and scary for Jacob. I ordered some supplies from Amazon prime (that would never arrive) and went to bed that night with a heavy and anxious heart. 

Thankfully we stayed plenty busy on Thursday, so I didn't have a chance to fret over my fears. We made last minute runs to pick up more batteries, candles, food, and water. We filled up our cars with gas and filled our propane tank. Jacob fell asleep in the car, which unfortunately meant no nap, complicating things further. By this point Irma had shifted further east, putting our little city in her direct path. She was holding steady as a category 4 and we prayed with all we had that she would shift and weaken over Cuba. 

Friday morning we moved everything we had outside inside, including Jacob's toys and a bunch of furniture. I cleaned and organized to keep my mind off things. Mid-morning we began the large task of cleaning out and organizing our garage and by some small miracle we got my car in there, which let us move Dan's over away from the tree in our front yard. We wanted to be sure we had at least one safe vehicle if we needed to leave after the storm. Our power went out that night, but thankfully it was just a glitch in the grid and two hours later it was back on. We gave Jacob a bath that night then scrubbed his tub and filled it with extra water. We put him to bed in his room and prayed he'd sleep well since the next few nights would be uncertain. Irma had shifted west by this point, looking to make landfall on the west coast, instead of the east. We were breathing just a tad bit easier. Keep in mind, she was massive - bigger than the state, so we were all going to feel her effects no matter where she made landfall. 

Saturday morning we sent a pile of extra sheets, pillows, and blankets over to the local high school they were using as a shelter, after they put out a request saying many senior citizens had showed up with nothing but the clothes on their backs. We'd received more kindnesses than we could count in those days leading up to the storm, and we thought if we could repay it in any way, we should. Curfew started at 3pm and I put on a few Sesame Street episodes for Jacob about a hurricane hitting Sesame Street. It helped lead a really good discussion with him about what was going to happen and what our plan was going to be as a family. I believe it is so important to have these conversations with kids, as hard as they are, so they aren't caught unaware. We had dinner hiding out in the bathroom during a tornado warning and watched the weather channel, and then we put Jacob to bed in his pack and play in the living room, next to the couches where we slept. He was super wired and excited about our living room sleepover and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that by 11:30 we resorted to children's benadryl to help him fall asleep. The wind was loud that night, but nothing compared to what was to  come. 

Sunday morning we woke up after a solid 8 hour sleep and discovered we'd slept right through two tornado warnings. The power was still on, but we knew it would only get worse, so we got to work. Dan cooked up breakfast while I cleaned out the storage space under our stairs for any other tornado warnings. We continued to watch the storm coverage on tv while Jacob played with his toys. The tree out front had lost a big branch, but so far there was no major damage. In between rain and wind bands we would let the dogs out and get some fresh air. Shortly before lunch the power went out and the worst of the storm blew in. The wind was louder than I had ever heard it and one tornado warning after another came beeping through our radio sending us dashing for the storage space under the stairs. It was super cramped in there, but we hung a flashlight for light and gave Jacob one of our old phones, charged up and loaded with games to keep him busy. Dan and I both read until the warnings were over. 

In between all the tornado warnings we kept Jacob as busy as possible. I had picked up three board games aimed at young kids (Count your Chickens, PJ Masks Matching, and Disney Surprise Slides) and we taught Jacob how to play. Besides board games we also let him watch a movie on our portable DVD player. Dan had cooked up lunch before the power went out, but we ate dinner in the dark while we listened to the wind and the rain. By mid afternoon it started to get super hot and everyone was getting irritable. We somehow managed to get Jacob down for a nap and  during a break in the storm we discovered that another large chunk of our tree had fallen onto Dan's car. There didn't appear to be major damage, but we would have to wait until the storm passed to be sure. 

Shortly before we were about to get beds set back up in the living room and go to sleep, the power came back on. It was a relief, but it came with it's own set of challenges. Due to the extreme shift in pressure, our smoke detectors wouldn't stop going off. They were louder than any part of the storm and I felt certain I would rather be without power than listen to them. Ironically the only thing that got them to stop was to open the front door and let air in - not exactly what you want to be doing during a hurricane. It was almost comical. The alarm would go off, we would open the door a bit and it would stop immediately. As soon as we shut the door, it would stop beeping again. Finally we rigged our box fan up on top of Jacob's wagon so it was aimed right at the detector that was causing us so much grief and it stopped. We spent another hot night sleeping in the living room waiting for the house to cool back down and listening to the wind. 

By Monday morning the worst of the storm had passed and while we still got some wind and rain bands in patches, it was otherwise nice outside and we were able to get out and survey the damage. Dan worked hard with a neighbor to get the branches off his car and cut up, and we got everything that had been brought inside back outside. Jacob was pretty enamored with the fallen tree, he was convinced it was a troll tree and was searching for trolls inside. We were able to cook up an actual meal for dinner, which was a welcome change after eating hurricane snacks for a day. 

To say we were relieved would be the biggest understatement of the year. We've seen the footage from the Keys and the west coast and we know that just a few days ago that catastrophic damage was forecast for us. We were able to get out and about today, and came across many downed power lines and stop lights that weren't working. But really, it could have been SO much worse. We purchased a big tub to store all our supplies in, because we know this won't be the last hurricane we weather together.

A huge thank you to everyone who prayed for us and kept us in your thoughts as we braved this monster. We're grateful more than you may ever know. 
1 comment on "IRMA"
  1. So glad everything is ok on your end! Went right over us in Tampa and was the scariest night of my life (posted a long account of it all because I needed the writing therapy after it all)! Florida will come out of this together. Love to you and the family!