So Many Things: Part III

In Part I I talked about the Republican convention and in Part II I commented on the Russian school hostage standoff and the unmitigated evil perpetrated on innocent children and adults by vile, despicable men. Now in Part III I will look at hurricanes Frances and Charlie and now if appears I will have to deal with Ivan also, since as of this morning NOAA’s track puts it into western Florida on Tuesday, coming straight up over my wife’s mother’s house (north of Tampa). In case the track shifts my father (South Daytona), brother (New Smyrna Beach), and sister (Deland) also live in Florida. Fortunately they all have only sustained minor damage up till now. However, because of its threatening track, my mother-in-law is leaving this morning for relatives in Tennessee to wait out Ivan.

What is most remarkable about the last two hurricanes to hit Florida (Charlie and Frances) has been the accuracy of the NOAA forecasting and track prediction. That alone has saved many lives, though sadly, many were still lost (Charlie 20, Frances 19). The physical damage, however, was extensive, even to areas not directly in the storm track.

My brother (New Smyrna Beach) had three tree branches punch holes in his roof during Charlie’s final gasp through Florida’s east coast and his electric was off for over a week. Fortunately, other than several days of no power, Frances spared him any further damage. My father (he is 81 and lives alone in the family homestead) lives 30 minutes north in South Daytona. He had no damage other than general cleanup and several days without power for both storms. My sister, who lives in Deland, about 30 minutes northwest of my father, had a similar experience.

While my mother-in-law was spared Charlie when the storm suddenly veered east and missed original track into Tampa Bay, Frances took out the screened room around her swimming pool along with some of the shingles from her roof. She is also 81, however, her life is complicated by multiple sclerosis, a condition that she has had for over 45 years, so her mobility is limited. She depends on a motorized wheel chair and when the power is out for extended periods, she cannot recharge the battery. She sold her house in Western Pennsylvania to move to an area north of Tampa, so she is there of her own choosing, but this year has been a year that Murphy would identify with.

We have found that technology has helped change our family response to these emergencies. I chatted on instant messaging (computer text chat) with Andrew, my brother’s 19 year old son, right through Frances until the power went out on the back end of the storm. Our cell phones allowed us to call family from wherever we were and fortunately I was able to talk to everyone both during and after the storms. It is remarkable how the phone lines remained active throughout both storms even though the power was lost and would be out for days. Telephone lines don’t easily short out and even when poles fall, the phone lines usually maintain their integrity. Communication to our families continued to work because everyone had at least one standard phone in the house (direct plug in, not dependant on electric, such as carry-around phones that use a base station). That was important for our peace of mind, especially since we could talk to our elder parents. As a result, I would recommend that everyone have at least one of these plain vanilla types of phones in their home for emergency situations when power is lost (even if you only store it in a closet). Sometimes staying in contact is significant to emotional well-being, even when physical well-being is not seriously threatened.

Keep Florida and its people in your prayers as Ivan makes its way west and north and if you remember, include my family in your petitions. We thank God for His grace thus far and ask His mercy for the future. Grace and peace to your day.