Kudos to Twitter.

I found Twitter to be an extremely valuable resource during Hurricane Irma. While the storm was raging outside, I was checking Twitter constantly for nonstop coverage of the hurricane in near real time. I saw photos of conditions in my area and videos of the storm’s wrath. While I did check some of the local news sites, I always found myself going back to Twitter for the rapid, in-depth coverage of Irma.

I myself contributed to the Irma coverage by tweeting weather conditions outside along with photos I took of the stormy chaos. It was then I noticed something about Twitter I hadn’t noticed before. I was taking part in a worldwide network discussing the storm from our individual points of view. I got a response to one of my tweets from an out-of-state user whose mother lives in the city where I stayed and she had been unable to get hold of her. Was there power in my area? Yes, there was, I responded. That seemed to put her mind at ease.

Some of my photographs of the storm have been well-received, and that gave me the rewarding feeling that I’m contributing something to the ongoing discussion and getting noticed for it.

Too bad it took the 9 years I’ve been on Twitter to get this kind of insight.

Surviving Hurricane Irma, Day 4.

It’s over.

Hurricane Irma has struck Florida and it’s time to go outside and survey the damage. Structural damage in Palm Beach County seems to be minimal but the real mess is the fallen branches and piles of leaves scattered everywhere.

I decided to go visit my house to see how well it fared during the hurricane. I was nervous about the drive home because I wasn’t sure if there was a widespread power outage that affected the traffic lights along my route. The one thing I hate the most about driving after a hurricane is coming to an intersection with no working traffic lights. Drivers completely disregard the rule to treat such an intersection as a four-way stop and as a result there’s plenty of danger and frustration. They seem to be enforcing an “every man for himself” rule instead. As much as I hate traffic lights, I actually miss them when they’re not working.

I managed to make it home in one piece. As expected there was debris everywhere in my neighborhood but I was pleasantly surprised to see I still had power. Judging from the correct time on my stove in the kitchen, I don’t think it ever went out. My phone service, on the other hand, wasn’t working, and neither was my Internet connection. I had a busy afternoon of taking down my storm shutters, moving my plants outside along with my patio furniture and then cleaning up the debris.

Then I decided to go check on my parents’ house. They left on a cruise out of the country just before the hurricane hit and were keeping in touch via email. I could imagine their anxiety about how things were back at home and I wanted to relay some good news to them to help put their minds at ease.

However, when I arrived at my parents’ house, I saw a huge mess of fallen branches around the house. I couldn’t get inside because there was no power to open the garage door and the rest of the house was heavily barricaded with hurricane shutters with drill-tightened wingnuts too tight to try loosening by hand.

During my walk around the outside of the house, I saw something that made my jaw drop. There was an aquarium stand that once stood behind the garage that my father used for his small barbecue grill. That stand was no longer there. The strong winds flung it across the yard where I found it resting on some bushes along the fence.

Anyway, the storm may be gone but the aftermath remains to linger for a long time to come.

Oh yeah, Hurricane Jose’s out there churning in the Atlantic and just might hit Florida again.

Isn’t life in paradise wonderful?

Surviving Hurricane Irma, Day 3.

Anyone on the road today going shopping for hurricane supplies is CRAZY.

I had a bizarrely amusing thought of a store actually open during the hurricane, catering to those who waited until the last possible minute to stock up on emergency supplies. Such a store must be desperate to make a profit.

I’m imagining two men trying to load some plywood outside in the stormy weather. So far, they’re not having much luck. Two pieces were broken in half by the heavy winds and a third was sent flying like a giant frisbee across the sky.

So far, so good here in Palm Beach Gardens. There’s still power, TV and Internet but who knows how much longer they’ll stay on. The lights have blinked a few times, sending me a warning signal of the worst to come, so I’d better hurry up and finish this post while I still can. The nightmare’s far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning.

To be continued…

Surviving Hurricane Irma, Day 2.

There was a brief moment of sunshine this morning while but the mood was anything but cheerful. I was too busy finalizing my preparations for the hurricane by moving my patio furniture inside and getting rid of any garbage that could be sent flying during the storm.

And now here I am, staying with family in Palm Beach Gardens to wait out the storm. I’m encouraged that Hurricane Irma has shifted to the west, so I’m hoping that any damage at home is minimal.

I did have an amusing thought that I think would make an interesting story. What if the city of Palm Beach Gardens has not been hit with a hurricane for hundreds of years?

Yes, the last time a hurricane tried to make landfall at the area that is now Palm Beach Gardens only succeeded in being attacked by the vicious natives living there. As a warning to future hurricanes, its remnants were mounted on bamboo sticks along the beach, and since then, no hurricane has ever made landfall at Palm Beach Gardens.

Anyway, there’s nothing to do now but wait for the storm to pass and hope for the best. Oh yeah, and hope everything’s still standing when I get home.

To be continued…