We survived our first hurricane since moving to Jacksonville two years ago.
When we moved here, we learned that Jacksonville does not typically get hit with hurricanes. Tropical storms, yes. Hurricanes, no. In fact, the last hurricane to make landfall in Jacksonville was over 50 years ago when Hurricane Dora hit in the year I was born, 1964.
At the beginning of last week, weathermen started predicting that Hurricane Matthew would reach us by week’s end with devastating impact. By Wednesday, schools and businesses (including the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zack’s high school) were closing early and canceling for the rest of the week and people were being warned to prepare for Matthew to hit on Friday. On Wednesday, I, and 10, 000 other Jacksonville residents, made a Costco run to stock up on nonperishable food and bottled water.
On Thursday, I woke up to this alert on my phone:
Then I started seeing new, even more alarming alerts on my phone:
What, we are in evacuation zone A? How can that be?
As best we could tell, it’s because there is a little creek just south of us that connects to Julington Creek that connects to St. John’s River. With water surges of up to 10 feet predicted, they were preparing for mass flooding around any water bodies connected to the Atlantic Ocean and St. John’s River. The predictions put us in the flood zone and yet our neighbors directly across the street were not. So we decided that we really weren’t in any danger and it was just an abundance of caution that placed us in Zone A.
It was a little intimidating seeing some of the warnings I will admit:
Carl and I spent the morning preparing the backyard by bringing all of our decorations inside and securing everything that we could. Taking our neighbors cue, we threw our plastic Adirondack chairs into the pool to keep them from blowing away :). We also drained about 6 inches from the pool to prepare for all the rain. Then we spent the rest of the day watching Netflix and being harassed by family and friends that wanted us to evacuate. Problem was…where would we go?? We love you all and are sorry that we worried you but we really did not feel we were in any danger.
On Friday morning, in preparation for the loss of power that we expected, we moved the items in the freezer of our kitchen fridge into the chest freezer in the garage. Google said that items could stay cold in a chest freezer for 48 hours with no electricity, as long as you didn’t open the door. Once the power went out (which happened around noon), we moved all the perishables from the fridge into the empty bottom freezer and loaded the space up with ice to keep it cold for as long as possible. With our power out for just 24 hours, we didn’t lose any food at all, which was a relief.
As the rain and winds picked up throughout the day on Friday, with the worst of the storm hitting between 4pm and 8pm, we spent our time as pioneers with no electricity, working on preparations for my upcoming craft night, reading, playing games and surveying our property for damage.
It was probably the longest day of his life for Zack to go 24 hours without his Xbox!
When we were hungry, Carl braved the elements to cook us some hot dogs on the grill outside.
We actually were very glad that we had stayed in our home because while in the dining room, I noticed water on my table. I looked up and saw water dripping from the ceiling. Carl went into the attic and found a leak in the attic and was able to stop it before it had totally water-logged the dining room ceiling and caused it to collapse (which happened to one of our neighbors).
After the stress and boredom of the day without electricity, we were exhausted by 8pm and decided to just go to bed. We woke up several times throughout the night but actually managed to sleep until our normal time the next morning.
We woke up to bright, sunny skies and a very dirty swimming pool.
The only other issue that we had was the shingles at the top of our roof peek were blown off. Because our roof is so high and the pitch is so steep, Carl can’t get up there himself and we will need to have someone replace them.
But all-in-all, we survived Hurricane Matthew and feel like true Floridians now! I am glad that we did not take a direct hit like predicted and that the eye did not actually make landfall. I’m sure things could have been much worse than they were. We probably got at least 6 inches of rain (since the pool was topped out) and strong winds with gusts up to 70 mph. People near the beaches were not so lucky, with rivers of water running down the streets, structures collapsed and beach erosion. Time will tell the actual extent of the damage to those closer to the beach. But luckily, there was very little loss of life in Florida, unlike the poor souls in Haiti. God was gracious to the state of Florida and the city of Jacksonville.
Thank you all for your prayers, phone calls and texts to check on us during the storm. We appreciate you all. Phew, we are glad that’s over!