The Threat Was Real

Should you have read last week's post, here if not, you might recall that I was slightly skeptical as only a long time Florida resident can be when the weather folks begin getting excited. We've heard it before. Countless times. Well, this was no idle threat, however, things unfolded far differently than most of us were expecting. 

A bonus of our trips over to Dover Shores is that we pass by Clemon's Produce daily, often stopping for what we need. It must have been Tuesday when we did just that and saw this happening at the center.

To tell you the truth, when first I noticed one of the shops with the plywood I was confused, that is how much of a skeptic I was.  Duh, they are preparing for a hurricane as were most folks, including Connie, Gayle, Liz and Lou Anne, all of whom we saw buying while we were in the store.

That same afternoon a call came in from Jennifer asking for our help. She and her Mom were in Pennsylvania and turns out they had a back patio filled with furniture and plants. Generally a back patio is a no-no here, or at least it was until about a year ago, but their patio,  put in decades ago, would most definitely not be allowed. While she was scrambling to find a key to their place, Bruce went over to check what needed doing, coming back and saying they have an awful lot. And once I had the chance to go there myself, it was clear he was not exaggerating in the slightest.

Unfortunately no key was located meaning every bit of it had to be carried around the building to the front porch via a side yard.

Saint Bruce followed that up using his rope tying prowess to secure all of the furniture. 

As well, Mary was calling  from Memphis, hoping for help with her boats that were on the lakeside racks. Most folks know who to call when they need help! 

Meanwhile, I made sugar cookies. Actually I did help with the patio stuff, but my contribution was minimal at best. :)

Wednesday it became real. But first we played a waiting game during which time I kept myself busy doing a fun jigsaw puzzle that I just finished yesterday, although there was so much waiting on Wednesday that I did the majority of it then.

Bruce rechecked the kayaks as the wind picked up. Take note of the racks as they will make a repeat appearance in this post!

If you've a sharp eye you will also note a Great Blue Heron taking off which will also be featured shortly.

The rain began falling softly and I convinced Bruce to take a walk before it picked up. During said walk, I took a few photos which have proved to be useful. For instance this one of the shoreline of Lake Pineloch.

As the day wore on, Matt and Tom called from London and I took another photo of Lake Willisara to show them as small waves began forming.

I know that you have seen countless photos of this view, but I'm including it for reference purposes because what happened in the next fourteen hours turned out to be unprecedented, that is unless you are of a certain age and lived through Hurricane Donna

Night fell and the rain and strong gusts began in earnest.

Bruce moved the rain gauge out from under the tree and while it collected water, it is hard to know how much it did not!

If you are inside, there is a certain thrill, or at least for me, hearing the exceptional winds and rain pounding the windows and in our case, the roof of our sunroom. Putting the destructive nature out of your mind, just seeing the power is so impressive. That said, after taking the photo above, your favorite blogger went to bed, got up once at midnight and went back to sleep to the sound of by then Tropical Storm Ian. As is most often the case, once a storm runs into the coastline it loses power by the time it reaches Orlando. Oh how destructive this storm was with both wind and rain to our fellow Floridians especially in the Fort Myers Beach area.

Bruce, on the other hand, woke at 4AM and was not lulled back to sleep. Noticing the lake was rising, he put a stake out in the yard to measure it and holy the time I got up, the water looked like this:

According to his measuring stick the lake rose 6 inches in one hour! 

My friends, it is a little unnerving watching water rise towards one's back door. Fortunately for those of us who live so close to Lake Willisara, it quit rising for us, however, a home on the lake that abuts our property was not so lucky with their entire back yard underwater up to the house, made visible because some of the fence boards blew off.

Emptying our rain gauge it measured 5.5 inches which was far below what actually happened. As soon as the rain was down to a drizzle folks were wandering around to see the damage. The good news is that while some trees were lost, most of them remained standing. It was the water that took everyone by surprise. Behind our bathroom window the water was deep making the pathway impassable.

The big lake? Bigger, keeping in mind the earlier photo which was taken in about this same spot.

The kayak rack is at the far end of the property and in another surprise move, one of the racks began floating across the lake, ending up close to the flooded dock. 
Obviously rain on the camera and this blogger as well. I kept checking the water at Mary's place, which was just fine as she is further from the lake, but as I was leaving that area I came across all of these acorns on the ground making me sad for our squirrel friends who might just be short some food this winter.

Bruce and Mike got in the lake and tugged the kayaks back to the far shore, securing them once again. This is my wet honey on his way home.

Remember the flooded backyard of the adjacent home? It dumped onto our property in almost a tiny waterfall effect, causing both lakes to be connected whereas that is not normally the case. There is a canal leading out to Lake Pineloch but it stops in front of the rock. 

The water was moving swiftly from their yard to the already full lake. While David and I were watching this he pointed out a sad looking Great Blue Heron, huddled by the fence.

For two days following the storm, the heron remained in this area, never moving as I grew closer, prompting me to worry about an injury.

BTW, this would normally be dry land. At any rate, I contacted a bird rescue person who told me to keep watching and I am happy to report that the heron seems to be fine because it has finally left the spot as the flood waters have begun receding. I had to wonder if it were one of the chicks born on the lake. I never posted this photo when it was happening, but it was pretty cool to watch. (finally of my desktop!)

So back to the flood,

All normally grass! 

Here was straight out our back door. 

One of the biggest pains was this:

Because we have our internet with AT&T as well, it kept me out of the news loop, in part because my phone is, in some people's eyes, underutilized. 

Although we did not lose power during the storm, the aftermath was a different story. Ever ready, Bruce hooked up our fridge to our generator which according to Bruce's friend John is actually called something else. Said friend is an engineer! (beside my MINI)

Thinking about food, one of the fun things that occurred was that Bruce had taken down the bird feeder before the storm became intense. The birds noticed, singing quite loudly the next day calling for their meal.

Because it was still windy Bruce tied it off as only he is able to do. They came in quickly. How many do you count below?

Inexplicably, the next day, when the sky was as blue as blue can be, with not even a touch of humidity, the power went out just as I was heading into the kitchen to make lunch. Let's just go to Johnny's shall we?

Turns out it was not an original thought because the place was packed at noon with others seeking either food, company, or both. Electricity was good for some. The television over the bar caught my attention with the sad images from the storm. 

Now some four days removed, the water continues drying out, leaving a bunch of gunk in its wake. Note the line of debris. 

Since I took the above photo the water is lower still. I was saying to my upstairs neighbor Julie, I imagine our squirrels, those who hop from branch to branch, and tree to tree, were so confused. Most days she puts food out for the birds near the shoreline although the squirrels definitely eat their share. 

During a major storm everyone has a story to tell, whether it was something that happened to them or someone they know. It wasn't about trees this time, although for sure around the city they came down, but it's the water that tells the story. When the downtown centerpiece, Lake Eola, floods the streets, that's a pretty big deal. I will share some photos from nearby lakes in my next post that are pretty incredible. 

For hot weather weary Floridians, one silver lining is cooler temperatures with little to no humidity. Then there is that blessing of a bright blue sky that we don't take for granted.

It has been called a 500 year storm which is totally confusing to me as there are little to no accurate weather reports from that long ago, but one thing for certain is that it was unusual. Sort of. (See above newspaper report on Hurricane Donna.) The truth is that all major weather events are painful whether it is an earthquake, wildfire caused by lightening, tornados or a hurricane. Tsunami...I forgot those. And then there are droughts. Holy Cow...what a list!! 

Grateful that it was not worse...I will sign off,

your friend,


p.s. Here's an oldie but a goodie from my first year of blogging, 2007, that mentions another notorious, around these parts, hurricane.