Tropical Storm Isaac

Well, he’s gone. Tropical Storm Isaac is long gone from our stretch of islands. (Continued prayers and best wishes for those who remain in his battering path!) Thankfully, it was a fairly uneventful storm for us, as these things go.

Many of you have never lived through a tropical storm or hurricane. Of course, there are plenty of blizzards, floods and other natural disasters to keep us all on our toes in every corner of the world! But, even in my Better Life, hurricanes are the most dangerous for us here.

In fact, I had just completed my move down here last summer when Hurricane Irene came through with a Category 3 intensity. We were fortunate in that everyone was unharmed, but roofs, docks, trees, gutters and other physical property suffered. It was also the longest night of my life with winds over 100 mph howling and shaking the shutters, power out and the house pitch dark.

But I digress. And, since it’s all relative, Tropical Storm Isaac seemed more like a cold front coming through! Nonetheless, we take every storm system seriously, knowing it can change or surprise even the savviest of weather predictors.

Here’s the chronology of how I spent my time with Tropical Storm Isaac

Friday, August 24

Storm preparation:

  • With winds picking up already, I did the final loads of laundry from my trip before rains set in.
  • I also worked up quite a sweat putting away all potential flying missiles outside: lawn furniture dragged inside the house, decorative conch shells put under the stairs and indoors, hoses and trash bins inside, etc.
  • I parked the golf cart down low and close to the house and checked for extra gasoline.
  • Although we usually keep jugs of water on hand for when the water shuts off (knock on wood, it hasn’t happened much this summer), I filled extra jugs and stored them in the utility room.
  • Gathered up towels for possible water leaks.
  • Checked flashlights and batteries.

Outdoor gear now sitting in my foyer.

Had the threat been any more serious for us, like Hurricane Irene was, we would’ve taken even more precautionary measures like cooking food in advance, unhooking propane tanks, charging portable radios, packing emergency bags, etc. But for now, this was good.

However, around 5:00 p.m. we were surprised when the first band of the storm apparently came through. Nobody on the island was expecting to feel too much until later the next day. But, all of a sudden, it started to pour rain and winds stepped up to 40-50 mph. Soaking wet, I dashed around outside to put on the hurricane shutters that I had contemplated doing the next day. Thankfully, they are the kind that pull closed, so they’re not too difficult to manage.

Then, after all that excitement, it settled down again and remained that way. So much so that Beau and I headed out to a local bar to visit with friends (which I especially enjoyed since I hadn’t seen folks in 3 weeks or more). Home to a late dinner and an uneventful night’s sleep.

Saturday, August 25

9:00 a.m.- Winds at 30-40 mph. Still some sunshine. Whitecaps on our usually still water out back.

Can’t be too bad yet – Milo and Angel napping near the open front door.

Hurricane shutters in the morning light.

You know how calm my backyard usually looks. Whitecaps here.

11:00 a.m. – Skies are grey, wind is picking up. Dogs still snoozing.

Storm? What storm?

The big guard dog, clearly on high alert.

12:00 p.m. – Enjoying the housebound day, I make a big brunch. Potato pancakes (starting with leftover mashed potatoes), eggs over easy with plenty of our local hot sauce, prosciutto and cheese, sliced strawberries. With belly full, we’re ready for you, Isaac!

1:00 p.m. – It’s kicking in! Must be the second band. Rain. Winds with gusts of 55-65 mph. Then (relatively) quiet again.

4:30 p.m. – Skies darkening again and wind picking up. Walking out on my front porch to check the eastern/southern skies, I see my neighbor doing a last minute shingle repair! His wife, with her long hair whipping all around her head, and a friend steadied the ladder (and likely worried) while my brave neighbor calmly went about his business.

“Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!”

Starting to get small waves out back. Keep in mind that my home location on the island is on the lee side of the storm and not catching the full force of the winds directly. Phew!

Seas still far rougher than normal. And see the palm tree in the middle with its fronds plastered back in the wind?

6:00 p.m. Now it’s seriously coming. Must be the third band. Major winds and driving rain. Water coming in under front door and one unshuttered window on the eastern/weather side. Dogs barking at the rattling noises from the shutters. Power goes out for half an hour, but thankfully comes back on (and remains on throughout!)

Basket full of sopping wet towels from blocking the door/window.

7:00 p.m. – Decided we better shutter up the front door (which we can’t open from the inside) to prevent more water overnight. So we did, leaving the back door (on the lee side) unshuttered for an exit and outdoor view. Instead of dragging out the ladder to shutter the problematic window, I popped out the screen from the inside and closed it that way. Now secured, we went ahead and ate dinner. Stir fry steak, with rice, fresh vegetables and an Asian ginger sauce. Just because there’s a tropical storm doesn’t mean we can’t eat well!

9:00 p.m. – Quiet evening. Still have tv (satellite) reception, but audio has been cutting in and out all day. We watch a DVD movie instead and turn in early. Dogs have to take their bedtime potty break out the back door and on leashes – I’m not about to risk one of them running off to explore tonight!

Sunday, August 26

2:00 a.m. – I awaken to raging winds and rattling shutters. However, knowing it is “just” a tropical storm, I am able to go back to sleep (very different from our night with Hurricane Irene last year!).

7:00 a.m. – Beau and I take the dogs and go for a morning drive to survey the island. Thankful to see no real damage anywhere. All roofs intact. Don’t even see trees down, just lots of leaves and tumbleweeds everywhere. Still dark and squally and spitting rain. Not experiencing any surge from this storm, which can do so much damage.

9:00 a.m. – Curious to see how wild the ocean looks on the weather side of the island, I take a ride out to the ridge. I leave my golf cart safely on the low road and hike up to the ridge for a look-see. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t blowing too hard or I wouldn’t have ventured out there.)

Safe harbor for the champion sailboats and others in an interior channel.

View from the ocean ridge.

Not as rough as I expected, actually!

10:00 a.m. – Beau’s cousin cooks up some boiled fish and grits. I swing by for some island comfort food on this stormy day, then leave the guys to talk shop, while I return to the comfort of my couch with a book.

At this point, winds were SSE at 40-50 mph, with gusts at 60+. We were through the worst of it and just settled in for another day of wind and occasional rain.

Monday, August 27

Back to business as usual! Beau goes to work. I go to work putting the house back together: opening shutters, carrying lawn furniture outside, washing and drying towels, etc. The only “repair” work I have is a screen that was blown off (from a loose corner) before I could get the shutters on. An easy fix since the screen itself isn’t ripped. As these things go, we got off extremely easy!

My only casualty. Yay!

Now, we enjoy the sunshine and the “return to normal,” while checking on the progress of Isaac and sending prayers to those in Louisiana, Mississippi and otherwise in his path.

2 Responses to Tropical Storm Isaac

  • Sarah says:

    Wow, Neighbor! You beat us this time…despite our desire to, we never ventured up on the Ridge to brave its raging winds. Great pics. Yes, the whole time Hubby was up on the bloody roof I was mentally smacking him in the head. I couldn't believe he decided that roof repairs had to be done during 50mph winds! I am so thankful Isaac was so "easy on us" (compared to Irene). I continue to pray for the folks up North. Great post, as usual. Glad you are back on island! Now the Neighborhood is complete.

  • Dawn says:

    Sarah, as always, thanks so much for your comment! I'm very glad to be back with you – tropical storms and all!

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