E James Todd

Blown Away: A Hurricane Irma Journal

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Hey all. I wanted to start this as a sort of semi-visual commentary of what's going to go down in my home state of Florida, and (to the best of my capacity to do so) to give an on-the-ground perspective before, during, and after the storm passes. It'll also (hopefully) let me talk about this in a calm and rational manner, instead of resorting to the near-manic disposition most people seem to be taking in regards to this puffed-up storm cloud.

A few things off the bat: I will not be taking undue risk during this, nor will I be staying put if things appear to be going catastrophically bad. The Todds have already prepared with food and plenty of water, filling cars with gas, checking batteries, stocking up on first aid, and all the good things little boys and girls do before hurricanes. We are also fortunate in that our house is very high in elevation, has no trees nearby that would threaten structurally if they fell, and has a berm protecting us from all west winds coming off the coast.

I encourage others to chime in as they can during this, as commentary or with questions or even their own stories if they live in or near the path of the storm. This could even be semi-educational, if there's anyone that wants to know more about hurricanes. Any questions that are left, I'll do my best to answer them when I can.

First "entry" to come as soon as I figure out how to imgur via mobile capacity.

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I will be interested in reading this as things progress. This may be a therapeutic approach to the situation

 

Most of all, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

 

Stay safe, and update us as you are able.

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Day 1, 12:00 Advisory

 

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Irma is just about to bowl through Puerto Rico, and everything is on high alert at the moment. The governor has already declared a state of emergency and asked for volunteers and supplies. One of the few lighter notes comes from last night in Puerto Rico, where three men narrowly avoided getting struck by lightning. All three escaped with only burns. All three were struck with the same bolt. I can only be thankful that we're so fortunate as to have survived.

 

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Most of the people where I live have stripped the shelves bare of resources. Gas prices are at an all-time high, climbing to USD $2.71/gal – compare to USD $2.24/gal just last week. One of my coworkers remarked that they had to drive past four stations just to top up their car; when they got there, they saw people filling up as many as a dozen gas cans apiece. Some drivers had to be separated before they began verbal altercations. It's almost like this is becoming a different world.

 

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I made the mistake of going to the grocery store to stock up on some less-thought-of supplies last night. The water was about this bare, though not for lack of effort on the workers' parts. Two poor managers moved an entire pallet of water directly into the aisle, wheeled in from off the truck on which it had been delivered. For every one they put up, two disappeared from the pallet next to them. By the time they went to put another up, the first had disappeared.

 

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The Todd household has gone from pleasantly well-stocked, to overflowing with non-perishable items. We have enough to provide for our native needs as well as those of my girlfriend's family, should they need higher ground. I think by the end of this, I will be thoroughly sick and tired of soups and canned vegetables for a good while. Thankfully, though, we have also stocked up on propane; we will not lack for hot food, should the power go out.

 

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The weather-heads think it's going to impact the south of Florida, and then turn and take up along the eastern coast. That means that, if accurate, we will be getting the strongest effects of the storm where I live. Hurricanes are always strongest on their western "hemisphere" in the northern Atlantic, and the northwest quadrant even more so. We're all holding our breath to see where it'll go from here. Official word hasn't yet come down from work (since we fall under the broad umbrella of first responders), but we're thinking about half of us will be ordered to stay home.

 

More to come with updates.

 

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< • >

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Thank you so much for doing this, James! We don't get a lot of news here regarding this, and the news feeds can be so histrionic that one never knows what to believe. It's good to know you're safe, and well prepared. My thoughts are with you in this time!

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Oh James!!! Please do keep us updated! I am very interested in this and hope everyone is safe and sound through the whole thing!

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wait wait.... 2.71 is high out there?! that been average here for weeks!

 

 

 

how many hurricanes have you been through james?

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wait wait.... 2.71 is high out there?! that been average here for weeks!

 

 

 

how many hurricanes have you been through james?

Yeah, I was going to say, That's not bad at all.  I mean a little bit pricey but not bad at all.  We're about 2.65 for the more expensive gas stations her in Idaho.

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Dar'Jen: that's exactly what I was hoping for in this. I'll make sure not to play with downed power wires this time. :wink:

Kidding, kidding.

 

Cross and Oscar: unfortunately, $2.71 is far north of our average price. To be honest, it normally hovers around $2.15-2.20, but Harvey spiked the punch (so to speak). The downside to the low pricing is that when it spikes it hurts us even more than elsewhere; standard of living hasn't caught up with inflation.

 

As to your other question, Cross....I think I've been through six. That's what my fallible human memory tell me, at least, though I couldn't even begin to list them by name. There was Matthew last year, and I got chased inland by Katrina before she was anything more than a Category 1. I don't recall the names of the others...

 

Evening update after some dinner munchies.

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Day 2: 6:00 Advisory

 

 

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Overnight Irma retained more strength than expected, but did not deviate over-much from the course as laid out over the past few days.  The all-important Turn that will ultimately decide where it goes has now gone from being straight over South Florida, to favoring the east coast side of the peninsula.  In addition, it's also appearing that it will track less over the mountains of Cuba, which means it will retain overall more strength by the time it swings northward.

 

 

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I didn't get to posting an evening update last night because I realized we were running a bit low on paper towels, so I made the journey out to Walmart.  Big big mistake.  Everything is going mental there, and if the lines aren't just clustering up by checkout they're bleeding into the areas behind the kiosks.  The express lane I was standing in took nearly 20 minutes to finally get to me, and that was for anyone with 20 items or less.  There was very nearly an all-out brawl that broke out near the self-service area.  Of course, all of this was probably exacerbated by the general dearth of workers manning the checkout lanes; but perhaps they, too, were leaving and buying supplies.

 

 

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Our governor officially declared yesterday day 2 of emergency procedures – which I thought interesting, since he never officially declared the preceding day a day of emergency, but what do I know?  He's recalled something close to 1200 aid workers from relief work in Texas, and activated an additional 900 reserves from the National Guard.  The concern is that we might not have everything we need because of the double-tap between Harvey and Irma.  To compare, with Matthew last year we had a veritable legion of buses ready to ship supplies out; that was both a near-miss and at less intensity than we will likely get.  Time will tell what the fallout from this is.

 

 

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I also found out yesterday that behind Irma we have Jose, now strengthening into a Category 1.  Thankfully, however, the models suggest that Jose is going to be a "fish storm," or something that stays out at sea and will not affect any islands or other land-based locations.  If he behaves like a good little boy, he'll just swing north in the Atlantic.

 

More to come with updates.

 

/\

<   •   >

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Edited by E James Todd

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Jiminy, stay safe!

 

What is a high elevation in Florida? I thought the highest elevation was something like three feet above sea level?

 

Maybe you should move north? North is good. Our hurricanes end up being blizzards sometimes but they're calmer that way.

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Thanks for information! Hope everyone stays safe.

 

I can't imagine living in a place where hurricanes are normal. It's so frightening.

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Jiminy, stay safe!

 

What is a high elevation in Florida? I thought the highest elevation was something like three feet above sea level?

 

Maybe you should move north? North is good. Our hurricanes end up being blizzards sometimes but they're calmer that way.

I was going to ask the same question!

 

I do hope you don't have to evacuate. Please stay safe!

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There are some hilly areas in north central Florida, which is well away from the coast.

 

I'm in the Panhandle and if Irma stays with her current track the most we'll see are tropical storm winds. I got a call from a friend in Charleston,, SC, today, which (if Irma stays on current track) will be on the northeast side of the storm (aka, "hell") when it gets up there.  I told her to load her horse up and bring him and herself here. Her husband will be staying at Joint Base Charleston.

 

I've been praying Irma turns into a fish but it doesn't look like that will happen. I just hope she doesn't shift further west and go into the Gulf. As warm as the Gulf is now, it's an incubator for strengthening...

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I know the Virgin Islands have suffered heavy devastation. One of my FB friends has a daughter at the University in St. Thomas that is currently missing. The pictures coming out of the VI are just horrifying. All the cell towers have been toppled so there is just about no communication with the outside. And the next hurricane is supposed to hit them too.

Edited by Basel Gill

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Oh my word that's awful, Basel! Those poor people :(

 

Dar, I always feel so sorry for the poor animals - especially those we humans have removed from the wild. They often are completely at our mercy.

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Thanks for information! Hope everyone stays safe.

 

I can't imagine living in a place where hurricanes are normal. It's so frightening.

I completely agree with Kukaso. The UK doesn't really get that type of extreme weather so I find it quite frightening as well.

 

I'm glad you guys are smart and are well supplied.

 

Keep safe and keep us updated if you can!

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Uuuuugh -_-;;

 

I got called into a 12-hr shift at work yesterday.  I hurt so bad.  They wanted to get me for 36 hours, but I told them I had preparations to make at home – technically a true statement, even if I don't plan on following through on all of them.  :wink:

 

There's been a shift in Irma's track, I'll get to that in a bit.  Sounds like it'll be better for Toddlandia than it will be for the Republic of Daruya.

 

What is a high elevation in Florida? I thought the highest elevation was something like three feet above sea level?

Maybe you should move north? North is good. Our hurricanes end up being blizzards sometimes but they're calmer that way.

 

There are some hilly areas in north central Florida, which is well away from the coast.

 

I'm in the Panhandle and if Irma stays with her current track the most we'll see are tropical storm winds. I got a call from a friend in Charleston,, SC, today, which (if Irma stays on current track) will be on the northeast side of the storm (aka, "hell") when it gets up there.  I told her to load her horse up and bring him and herself here. Her husband will be staying at Joint Base Charleston.

 

I've been praying Irma turns into a fish but it doesn't look like that will happen. I just hope she doesn't shift further west and go into the Gulf. As warm as the Gulf is now, it's an incubator for strengthening...

 

The highest naturally-occurring point in Florida is Britton Hill, in the Florida panhandle near Alabama.  There are other high points, such as Sugarloaf Mountain near Clermont, and most of them follow the jocular trend of adding "Mount" or "Mountain" to something related to those locations: a good example of this in a town would be Mount Dora, a picturesque festival-city north of Orlando, and sister-town to Forres in Scotland.

 

As of right now, we of the Todd house cannot move north for a variety of reasons – first and foremost, the backup on every roadway that leads any direction other than east, west, and south.  However, we are hunkered down and as high as we can be for our area (a whopping 14 feet above sea level!), and thankfully I've the first two days of this next week off to repair during and after the storm passes.

 

I'll start working on the actual entry now >.<

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Day 4, 9:00 Update

 

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Irma now has a more westward path in the models, which is sort of good for the Todd Household but not really.  On the one hand, that means that we won't be subjected to the strong squalls and eye wall that we may otherwise have.  On the other, the model has it passing close to or over the Gulf of Mexico, which is currently full of very warm, very energizing water.  Time will tell as to which of these two possibilities will come to fruition.  South Florida and the Keys are definitely going to bear the worst of it, though, as it looks like Irma will still be a Category 4 storm when it passes over them.

 

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Going into work yesterday spoke to the nature of the storm.  I was on the roadway at 5:30, when the sun was just coming up, and I use one of the state highways to get to work.  Southbound was nearly completely clear, but even that early the northbound lanes were full of travelers escaping the hurricane's path.  I saw a whole mess of cars trying to get gas at one of the stations on the way; the lines stretched all the way out into one of the lanes, spilled over into the grassy knolls surrounding the asphalt.  It was chaos.  I am incredibly thankful that I had the chance to fill my car's gas tank the day before, and that it doesn't take too much for me to drive where I need to.

 

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The skies are almost completely overcast now; this was one of the last points of blue that I could find from my house.  We don't have terrible winds here – certainly nowhere near as bad as in the coastal areas, where already there are concerns with trees bending – but frequently the canopy here will act as a visible representation of the oncoming turbulence.  All remains quiet for now, preternaturally so.  It would likely be unsettling, for any not familiar with the dance society engages in with hurricane landings.  It feels more like a matter of course for us.

 

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There are still groups of people trying frantically to get supplies, but at this late hour it becomes nearly impossible.  Many businesses are shutting down sometime today, if they haven't already.  Store fronts, gathering areas, whole communities now share the same plywood shells and similar spray-painted messages of defiance.  A power struggle is taking place between humanitarian care and egocentric greed, and stories of both abound.  I heard of a man who drove a pickup truck full of bottled water down from Tennessee, giving it to a whole neighborhood.  I heard of a law enforcement officer who got fed up with the line for gas, and brandished his service weapon trying to cut forward.  Life is a patchwork of extreme good and extreme bad right now, but most stories are communal and altruistic.

 

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On a lighter note, the local grocery store has started selling hurricakes to "honor" Irma's passing.  My girlfriend got one yesterday, and I'm going to see if I can get a slice before it disappears.

 

More to come with updates.

 

/\

<   •   >

\/

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I see people are staying to protect it and the cats!

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