Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

When we got up Saturday morning and saw that Ivan wobbled west UNDER Jamaica instead of going across it, we knew we were in trouble. Me and the neighbours had a little chat and decided after we boarded up and cleaned up and prepared as best we could, it wouldnt be too smart to stay at Oceanside Plantation after all, due to flooding concerns.

Matty came over and helped me move my big screen TV, the birds, my suitcase, my gallons of water and my hurricane supplies/food hamper over to The Ranch. Toby was in Matty's car, and I put Tweeter in my car. I wasn't ready to go yet, I still had a few things to do so I opened the drivers window, and opened the passenger window a crack, too. This would come back and bite me in the ass, later.

I put stuff up on the kitchen counters, up on top of the kitchen cupboards, I picked the bedclothes up so they werent touching the floor, and basically protected everything as best as I could. Initially I was worried about wind lifting off the roof, so I brought everything downstairs, but up high because I was worried about flooding. Then the forecast changed and I was more worried about flooding than wind, so I moved everything back upstairs. Then the forecast changed AGAIN and I moved everything back downstairs and also said to hell with it. I had done enough moving and preparing, and whatever happened, I got my head around it that I might lose everything that I left behind.

I got to The Ranch and took my stuff upstairs, and then came back down for Tweeter's cage, and since my hands were full, that's when I forgot to close the passenger side window, and left it open about 2 inches.

Around 9 the power went out for good and we hunkered down to ride the storm out. Water was turned off too, but we managed to fill up both bathtubs first. Between then and midnight, the winds started picking up to Tropical Storm force winds. I don't think anyone actually slept that night. I think I caught a couple 15 min naps here and there, but there was too much adrenalin sloshing around in the pit of my stomach and it was making me sweat. Everytime a bigger gust came though and you heard it, or felt the presure change in your ears, you woke up immediately wondering "is this it?".

Around 0330 Albert, Joanne and me were sitting outside (on the lee side of the house) watching the gusts (or what we could make out anyway) and estimating the wind speed. The wind was definately high now, with bigger gusts. We were expecting the eye to pass over or nearby between 0600 and 0800, but we didn't know that the storm had slowed down by then. We estimated the wind speed at 80-100mph with some higher gusts. In the back of my mind, I was trying to remember how strong the wind felt on the bow of a BC Ferries boat, and that couldnt have been more than 60mph, yet it felt stronger than trying to walk against the wind back to the door. In the back of my mind I had this creeping dread that we were way off on the windspeed estimates and that it was still only barely Tropical Storm force winds. We went back inside and Radio Cayman was on the air saying that the eye was still 55 miles away.
They said we could expect the strongest winds between 0700 and 1200, but I misunderstood the message and thought that this was the worst of it now, and it would be slacking off towards noon, and then dropping down to "only" Tropical Storm Force winds by 1800. How wrong THAT was. The winds were to keep building in intensity UNTIL noon, THEN start slacking off towards 1800, and then overnight to drop to Tropical Storm force winds.

There were reports in already of people who had been flooded out, and who had lost roofs, and we were just starting to get to the worst part of the storm. The winds picked up yet again around 0900 and in the morning's light we could see the full fury of the wind. The sound was undescribable. Standing next to a freight train at full speed is an apt comparison, and what with the way the wind was shaking the house and making the floor flex and the ceiling fan jingle and shake, it felt like we were in a runaway boxcar as well.

Next post, we lose a window...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 7:16:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Hurricane#
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