Sunday, March 26, 2006

Living In The 140 MPH Sustained Wind Zone

The calendar shows a rapidly approaching hurricane season. Growing up in Florida, mostly during a multidecade cycle of moderate storms, I used to view 'canes as a day or two of exciting, windy, wet weather. As a teen, I remember driving over to the beach (only a few miles from home) during Hurricane David and and standing on the seawall in a buffeting windstream of sand, salt, and spray.

I'm a little less cavalier these days as we enter a new multidecade cycle of stronger storms coupled with a generally warmer planet. The past two years served as a wake-up call for we Floridiots who like to boast, "Hurricanes? No big deal..." or " I love a good hurricane".

I also have other people who depend on me to make smart ...(not macho )decisions. (The first smart decision I made was not to live below sea level, behind manmade levees, surrounded on 3 sides by bodies of water)

Still, I do live close to the Gulf and within the 140 mph wind zone. There are safer places (Kansas for instance), but quality of life is important to me also. (Note to Pablo, that's not a Kansas dig, I just need an ocean nearby for my quality of life)


The picture above and immediately below are reposts, but some of you were not paying attention back then. The photo above (2004) was taken just before Tropical Storm Frances dropped 16 inches of rain.


The photo above is the first calm day after TS Frances. The pond has tripled in area, and knucklehead is now standing on the same dock in kneedeep water. The canoe was his way out to the dock.

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(2004, post TS Frances)
Above is a trailer that serves as someone's seasonal (hunting) camp near a little town called Otter Creek. Otter Creek which is normally a 5 foot wide trickle, swelled to fill it's historical flood plain and surprised a few people as it became a rushing torrent.

This year, I am getting an earlier start on preparations. I have waited too long in the past.

Things to do:
1) Climb up in the attic and survey for hurricane clips on all rafters.

2) Climb up on my very long ladder and finish some trimming of overhanging branches.

3) Climb up on my very long ladder and replace that one shingle...also reseal around exhaust pipes.

4) Continue acquisition of food cache items (good idea Wayne's March 24th post at Niches re: avian flu prep)

5) Polish off the drain swales from last season. These are just to direct water down slope from home to pond.

All that responsibility can't make up for this glaring fault in my character...true confession time...

I still love a good hurricane.


roger said...

big weather is dramatic and exciting. and ever so much easier to enjoy if everything is ready. doncha just hate going out in a hurricane, or in a tornado in kansas, to fix that flapping tarp or daub a little wetpatch on a leak in the roof? being up on a very long ladder is great for the view, but not so steady in high wind.

i did miss the pics showing the deep water. thanks for the repost. (riposte?)

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I always knew you had a good head on your shoulders, getting things ready early for the next storm...and there will be one, if you live in Florida.

I love nature's furry, but from a safe fascinates me.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

We always tried to get the earthquake kit ready when we were in California. Right after the big one in 1989, we were quite inspired. But the years go by with no big quakes, and pretty soon the urgency wears off. So, I'm glad to read that you are taking on the hurricane urgency with a good amount of vigilance and preparedness. It's easy to become complacent.

I have to admit I like big storms, even the dangerous ones. I like earthquakes too. I don't want people to get hurt, but I do like the way earth moves.

oa said...

Hm. . . From the safety of Kansas, I hope you have time for more educating. What exactly is a hurricane clip on your rafters? And if they were in place last season, where exactly would they have gone over the "winter"? And how much food have you determined will be necessary to sustain your family through a period of 4 weeks? How far are you from the coast? How often does your ocean loving soul need to refuel there? Oh my, more questions are lurking, but I better not overstay my welcome. From the safe zone . . .

(Oh, and thanks for not living below sea level. That choice really is developing some funding challenges.)

Floridacracker said...

I can't remember when folks first dropped in, and I know I was writing to an audience of one last year when I started.

Go back and read "stupid things I have done" posts to see that I don't always demonstrate "good head on my shoulders" syndrome. Trying tho... :)

Complacency...don't I know it. That's why I'm posting my list here for the world to see...maybe someone will nag me enough to see that I follow through :)

Wow, let's see...

Hurricane clips are little metal brackets that strengthen and reinforce the rafter to wall plate connection...much stronger than nails alone.
They would not have gone anywhere, but I'm not sure they were installed back in '89 when the house was built.

The food question is a hard one. I'll probably go by some of the recommendations online, but I know might be boring, but a 50 pound bag of rice and a 50 pound bag of dried beans can feed you for a very long time. I may build around that concept for variety.

As the seagull flies, I am only about 10 miles from the coastal marshes.

Refueling soul with saltwater...hmmm, this year I'm running on fumes. I need to get out there...

Hey, you can never overstay your welcome here :)

The MacBean Gene said...

I too remember the excitment at the approach of tropical storms. It was the only time swimming in the gulf was challenging. It's a wonder all us kids weren't washed out to sea. Then in later years it was huricane parties.
Our house on Treasure Island never had any damage from a storm and it was built in 1921 and floated over from the mainland of St. Pete on a barge. I've seen water under it flowing from the Gulf to the bay but never in it.
I used to think I had to stay close to salt water to exist but I've found the mountains to be an adequate substitute. And up here 4 cars are a lot of traffic, the air is clean and the water pure.
Carefull on that very tall ladder. And you know legumes have all eight essential protiens so what more do you need except maybe the pigs back (no pun intended).

Zanne said...

I'm glad to hear you take things seriously and are putting up stores in preparation. I have a question I've always wondered about. If people are living in Florida and need plywood to board up their windows for an incoming hurricane, why don't they number them as to location and save them for the next blow? It seems everytime a hurrican is coming everyone's out the Home Depot buying MORE plywood.

I remember tales of my dad and his family riding out hurricanes in either Uncle Jack's dogtrot house or their nothing-more-than-a-cracker-shack. He felt that all the spaces between the boards allowed the wind to cut through.

I'll take my chances with tornados. We unknowingly drove INSIDE one three years ago. Well, it was dark and the tornado was running right along side us - parallel. It got our attention, that's for sure, and was easily the worst weather I've ever encountered. The power was awesome.

Floridacracker said...

Built in '21 and floated over? It wasn't one of those legendary Sears and Roebuck houses was it? It's about the right time period. I understand how the mountains can be evoke similar feelings by the way...even deserts for some folks. Just different strokes...

That plywood question has something to do with procrastination and the sad fact that 1000 people a day move here, so there's plenty of new plywood needers. The numbering thing is the only way to go if you are using plywood.
My folks have built in cane guards that are always in place and unfold accordian style when needed. They make the house dark as a cave though.

Likes2mtnbike said...

I'm with you, Cracker. Lived my whole life on the W. Coast and was never afraid of the blowers. Things have totally changed. Nobody believes in global warming? Then come on down for this hurricane season and see what all the fuss is about! NOT a happy camper with these newer, bigger blasts. 6 months of stomach aches.

Likes2mtnbike said...

And, um, Rexroth's daughter....what the heck do you put in an earthquake kit? Spelunking tools? Plaster? Hard hats? Just kidding, but really...?

Floridacracker said...

I hear ya', it is definitely tenser from June to October than it used to be.
Me too on the earthquake kit,hmmm, food, first aide, falling roof proof suit, rope to climb out of crevasses that weren't there pre quake, and a martini...shaken, not stirred.

doubleknot said...

We have one hurricane preparation - leave as quickly as possible as far as possible from land fall.
We stayed the last hurricanes that went through Tampa area and ended up having to move.
Having lived in the country I always keep water - bleach jugs are great for water - and extra food - in cans with a can opener - a propane burner - but I know how to make a fire - well you get the idea. Good luck with your getting ready and let us hope it will be not needed.

Floridacracker said...

That's good advice.

pablo said...

Blogger seems to hate me again. I couldn't see anything more recent than your large lemon post until I clicked on yer archives. So that's why I haven't made any snarky comments lately.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Go to the above blog and see the size of those'll be AMAZED.
Tell him Sandy sent you.

Floridacracker said...

I do miss the daily snark and hidden meanings.

I will.

thingfish23 said...

LOL - me too. I can't help but get giddy when a storm is bearing down. BUT - Wilma proved to be a class A pain in the ass. We're still cleaning some stuff up, and the plants are just now coming back. The palms may have been done in, actually (no great loss, in my opinion).

Isn't that just bizarre?

The MacBean Gene said...

No Sears, cyprus.