[meteorite-list] Aftermath of Hurricane Charley: Kevin's report

From: bernd.pauli_at_paulinet.de <bernd.pauli_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri Aug 20 05:10:23 2004
Message-ID: <DIIE.00000032000026D6_at_paulinet.de>

> Guten tag, Bernd:
> If the letter I sent the m-list (and you) about the hurricane isn't on the
> m-list (?) would you please forward it for me? I'm still subscribed,
> although I'm monitoring this through the "archives" since the volume
> clogs my mail box when I access the internet in Costa Rica. Danke, K

Now, here is Kevin's report:

Here in SW Florida, Hurricane Charlie just paid me a visit. I have had many
inquiries about my health and safety, and this is the easiest way to respond.
Thank you for your concern. The electric just went back on last night, it was
off for a little more than 5 days. Our house in Fort Myers was 9 miles from the
eye wall. I was able to watch a battery operated TV when the power went off
at 3:15. No one was expecting the storm to explode in ferocity like it did in
about one hour, going from 105mph to 145mph. The storm hit FtMyers Beach
at 2:45, stayed on a N course, veered briefly east, the worst for me, then back
W a couple of minutes later, then N parallel to Sanibel Is., then veered suddenly
E across Upper Captiva Is. to Punta Gorda. Winds here to 127mph. Had four
hours of hurricane force (75mph). It seemed the garage door would burst open.
Rain gauge blew crooked with 4". (It's "normally wet" here, we've had 35" of rain
since June 01). No house damage (storm shutters up), a couple of small holes
in pool cage. About 6 large trees toppled, (miraculously none on house!) another
dozen palms to 20' are leaning. Gutter full of debris blocking water flow. Too much
mud, the back yard is under water, to push and stake up trees to save. House
covered in windblown dirt, leaves and grass. Hard to clean as it has been driven
deep into all surfaces. Inside of house everything is "tacky" from windows open at
night, (kept closed during day) and every surface will need to be cleaned. It's hard
to sleep with all the generators humming. Temps these days are 77* (= 25?C) at
night (but humidity to 100%) to 92* (= 32?C) in the PM (and humidity to 80%). Temp
inside house sat at 84*. I got lucky and hired a landscape guy driving by looking at
damage Friday night. He worked for three solid days (bargain at $1400). Removed
3 dumpsters of yard debris, cut up trees, branches, leaves. So much for my canopy
and "rain forest." Pool on verge of algae disaster w/o pump running and it was full of
grit blown through cage. All dealers out of chlorine. No ice to be found until yesterday.
No water, C or D batteries, bleach, fruit, vegetables, fresh meat or seafood (or any-
thing frozen) in supermarkets as no one had electric and generators wouldn't power
freezers or coolers. Finally last night, Pizza Hut had medium cheese pizzas, pickup
only. Most restaurants closed. Hard to find food. No sandwiches at Subway. It was a
major chore to arrange a meal, leftovers were good to feed the pets. Lost everything
in two refrigerators. 330' of wood fence blew down (and back up!) but needs total
repair. I have one 30' palm group (Fishtail) leaning over the dining room and can't
find a "bobcat" to pull it straight. Hate to cut it down, because I think it will survive.
We'll stay out of the dining room for a while. Total damage is under $5,000.
Neighbors have palms on roofs and 2 doors down, a large oak split and crushed
his roof. Problems you don't ever think about. - In high heat and humidity (and mud)
your clothes are nasty in 5 minutes. I ran out of "work" clothes and started washing
them in a bucket and wearing them wet. Without ice, you have no cold water or soda.
- People seemed to be competing on who had the biggest generator. They roar at
night. None will operate air conditioning, only fans, TV's and a couple of lights. Small
ones won't keep a refrigerator cold enough. They burn 5+ gallons of gas every 8 hours
and you can't buy more gas since pumps don't run w/o electric. Without electric all
cleanup is by hand. No power tools. Battery tools run down and can't be recharged.
Gas operated tools like chain saws don't run w/o gas. The horizontal rain in hurricane
winds contains embedded debris. I didn't stand outside long admiring the force. Besides,
the wind will probably blow out your eyeballs. Most traffic signs down, most traffic lights
out. 4-way stop everywhere, but dangerous at night. No street lights. People died from
running gens in garage to prevent theft. There was no phone service for 3 days. How do
you call for help, your family, anything? Without electric, there's no Internet. Cable went
out, too. Without electric, even when the phone service returns, w/o a "land line" your
other phones don't work. Mountains of yard debris are in front of everyone's homes. Today
is pickup. Right. Tomorrow is garbage day, and I have reeking garbage that needs to go
away. Fat chance. I visited Punta Gorda on Tuesday. This is the worst. I was bringing a
generator, gas, dry ice, water to my best friend Bill (PG Isles). He lost 2/3 of roof on house
like mine (although his is 2-story). He already had a large gen running, already has holes
covered with plastic. His neighbor had worked on Hurrican Andrew and knew the plan. But
his house is full of insulation bits and pieces and he is surrounded by disaster beyond belief.
He had a large car engine helping block his garage door. Something penetrated the garage
door and pushed the motor 12", then disappeared. He owns/owned a yacht brokerage with
about 40 boats , 8 were his, on Charlotte Harbor. The eye of the storm passed over both his
house and business. It passed over the bank his wife works at. It's now closed for repairs but
they'll keep paying her. The bank (SunBank) is providing employees everyday with a food
basket, water and ice. But M-Nature was not kind to them. Punta Gorda, a pretty place on the
water, recently rated the #4 "Livable Town" in America, is a giant strewn field. There are probably
500 square miles of snapped power poles, lines on the ground, blown away roofs, split open
houses, with debris covering 80% of the ground. Without water, everyone's personal hygiene
is impossible. Without water and a nearby source of water, you can't flush a toilet. It's very hot
and humid and there is no relief. Most have spray painted info from insurance cos. on the sides
of whatever is left of their homes. Driveways are blocked with fallen trees. Everything else is
uprooted. People prop up power lines blocking their driveways. Cars have broken windows or
were crushed under trees. Some brick bldgs were toppled and lie in ruin. Cell towers are broken
in half and there's no service. Helicopters are all over the skies. Military, Red Cross, police every-
where. Traffic bottlenecks constantly and is impossible. A plane pulls a banner with a phone # for
emergency aid. A place of canals and boats, the canals are choked full of floating debris and trees.
Boats are upside down, on the land, broken in half. At boat storage areas, they are pancaked on
each other. There were many mobile home parks, mostly winter snowbirds. They are gone, shredded.
There are miles and windblown piles of metal everywhere. Long pieces wrapped around power poles. Insulation accumulates like snow drifts. My friends Glenn and Tammy just visited me in CRica. Their
house is gone. The shelves of their garage remain, and oddly, everything sits on them nice and straight.
They just remodeled their kitchen and the frame of the cabinets still stand under the sun. They had storm shutters.... They're looking at this as an opportunity to have a new home. Other thoughts. TV and photos
cannot tell the scope of the damage. You see only a single act of destruction. Or how we share at the
food tent. But it's really endless wall to wall chaos. You can't really sense the desperate mood of the
survivors, can't feel the stifling, breezeless heat, smell the sweat. After driving around I felt I was halluci-
nating. This cannot be. Then you drive away and five miles later, it's like nothing happened. Our problems
will be gone in a few weeks, sooner if I can get workers, material and equipment. For my friends, losing homes, one a business with a $10,000/mo. fixed overhead, my mind boggles. I feel the deepest empathy. Insurance will help heal the loss, but that is in the future. They have so much to do. There's really no time
to rest. I invited all of them to spend Saturday night here in the aircon, a shower, the pool, a private toilet,
use the wash machine, whatever. They can't. They have to guard their ruins against looters. Kevin Kichinka
Received on Fri 20 Aug 2004 05:09:44 AM PDT

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