Irma... Massive Cat 4 Hurricane!
This past week has been an emotional and physical roller coaster for me and my family!
Eight days ago I gathered with sons, daughters, and grandchildren in Parris Island, South Carolina for my son's graduation from Marine Corps Basic Training.
It was wonderful!
We visited the Marine Corps Museum, went on a behind the scenes tour of Parris Island, dined with his drill instructors, attended his final run, watched graduation practice, attended a "family day" with our son, which all culminated with a grand graduation ceremony.
We hadn't seen him in three months, and now he stood before us as a member of the few and the proud...he is a United States Marine!
We traveled back to Fort Myers excited about a 10 day leave before he'd be heading to North Carolina for additional training.
But the very first day back the "weather" began to change. Irma was forming in the Atlantic Ocean.
That day I wanted to get caught up on some yard work for myself and neighbors that I serve. I had already mowed four lawns and was completing the fifth when I was viciously attacked by bees!
I jumped from my tractor flailing and swatting desperately. But they were all over me...one trapped in my ear and buzzing wildly! I ran, screamed for help, and eventually rolled on the ground trying to escape their stings. They were relentless!
I jumped to my feet and ran toward a neighbor's house calling for assistance. With bees still in pursuit, the door opened and I ran inside. I was panting for breath and in great pain as I hung over a sink gasping for air and running cold water over my wounds.
My gracious neighbor quickly provided Benadryl and began removing stingers from my arms, ears and head. He also found the body of a dead bee, and with the help of google, determined that I had been attacked by a swarm of KILLER BEES!
I drove Uber that same night and removed another six stingers along the way.
Although I thought that I was fine, the following day I felt miserable. While I should have been enjoying church services in the company of my new marine, all decked out in his dress blues, I was lying on a couch in a side room. The stings were painful and a little swollen. I felt extremely weak and feverish, breaking out in cold sweats. I drove home and spent most of my day in bed.
On Monday Irma was still a great distance from Florida and seemed unlikely to have a huge impact on Fort Myers. I was feeling much better and drove Uber most of the day. I also contacted a retired EMT about the swelling in my left arm and hand. He suggested some Prednisone tablets and was able to provide enough for three days.
Irma was inching closer and it seemed like a good precaution to put up the hurricane shutters just in case. So, on Tuesday, I worked the entire day securing our home and a rental property that we own. It had been over ten years since I needed to prepare for a hurricane. so it was a challenge locating all of the shutters and wingnuts. But after a long, hard day the task was completed.
The following day all indications were that Irma would definitely have an impact in our area, but it was still forecast to hit the East Coast of Florida.
One of our neighbors was out of town for a funeral and asked if I could put up shutters on her home. So, with the assistance of my dear wife, we tackled that project on Wednesday.
These shutters were made of plywood and had been wrapped in tarps and stored outside behind a shed. They were in very poor condition; waterlogged, bug infested, moldy and warped. It was a major struggle putting each board in place and our strength was running very low.
With my wife finishing in the front of the house, and me in the back, we could finally see the finish line after almost five hours. As I turned the corner to check on my wife, there she was sitting in the carport and crying bitterly with ice on her head. While moving a stepladder she was struck on the head with a pair of large pliers that had been left on the ladder. She was in severe pair for quite some time, but we had completed the job!
We had mixed feelings about evacuating Fort Myers, but Irma's track was moving further to the west. Although our Marine had a flight out of Fort Myers on September 11th it seemed impossible for that flight to be available. He was told to make arrangements to get to Camp Geiger in North Carolina at his earliest convenience. The only possibility was to drive him up ourselves. We packed up our minivan with three of our children and a few of our valuables, and left Thursday evening at 8:30 pm for North Carolina.
We've now been here for two days with our oldest son at Teen Valley Ranch in Plumtree, NC. While we are safe and away from the danger of the storm, Irma is currently on track for a direct hit of Fort Myers this afternoon. The next twelve hours will probably be the most difficult with a potential storm surge in our area of ten feet. Two sons and a daughter with her family are still in Fort Myers, Florida.
Please join me in your prayers and support of Southwest Florida and all effected by the "war goddess"...the largest hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic Ocean...Hurricane Irma!