Friday, September 5, 2008

Hanna aftermath

It's now Friday night, and we are expecting Hurricane Ike to make a direct hit on this little island tomorrow night. We've been busy. I wanted to stick up some photos while they are still fresh. It'll be old news soon enough.



(bad telephoto from wrong camera)

A view of the liveaboard dive boat Explorer II tied up down at the Caicos Marina. Rain was starting to get heavy. Note where she is tied up.

Sunday afternoon we left the marina around 4:30. Wind was diminishing, boat was fine, and as far as we knew Tropical Storm Hanna had left the area and was heading northwest away from us. We knew we had a week before the next disturbance...

We went home to unwind and start cleaning up the house a bit. We didn't turn on the television. I started putting together the previous post.

Around 5:30 our friends down the road a couple miles called and invited us over. They were having some drinks and relaxing as well. We jumped in the Land Rover, and could not get back across that same overflowing marina in the previous post. It was over knee deep on me (I tried to wade across) and the current was outrageous. We had driven across it a couple hours before. This should have tipped me off. duh... I hung the camera out the window on the way back.




And the Land Rover has big tires.

I guess I thought it was just a high tide on top of the diminishing surge, if I thought about it at all. Storm was gone, right? Whew. We made it. Yahoo. We went home. I finished the post "Hanna".

We noticed the wind was absolutely still. Not a bush was moving. We opened the windows, etc. Then we started thinking about that....hopped on the internet and sure enough, Hanna made a hard left and was heading right at us. Around 9:00 PM the wind was picking up. By 10:00 water was blasting the sliding glass doors so hard that it was spurting up under them. You can see it bubbling up in the corner and in the center of the track. Five of the six sliders were suddenly doing this all at once.

Minor panic.



A few minutes after I took that photo, the water was overflowing all the slider tracks and flooding the floor.

We went outside in unbelievable winds and rain driving so hard it stung the skin like ants. La Gringa and I were shouting to be heard, and we were standing side by side instantly soaked to the skin. We were trying to get the hurricane shutters closed. By 11:00 I was out alone because La Gringa was afraid of being blown over the edge wall of the patio. When I finally went inside, and turned the corner into the lee of the house I felt my feet suddenly get really light on the patio, and had to grab the wall to keep from going over. We lost power then. We did the rest of what we could with the storm shutters from the inside. By flashlight. I cut one of Dooley's rope leashes in half and tied two sets of the shutters together. I found some tie wraps and used those on the bedroom shutters. It was getting a bit nervous out. And I slashed two fingers pretty well on the bottom of the aluminum shutters.

We got the flood under the sliding doors under control, and rain was falling from the ceiling. I snapped a photo before it was too bad:



I got busy after that. Moving things like laptops from under the drips. The small loft above our kitchen was getting drenched, we were putting pans and bowls under leaks. That photo I snapped really helped me later. I did not take the time to examine it at the time I took it, but the flash illuminated the ceiling much better than the flashlight. I could see, later, where the leaks were originating.

Hanna was no longer a Tropical Storm...it was a hurricane. And it was running right over us.

What a surprise.

We got a call from our friends, M&M. The water was now starting to fill their yard. They wanted to know if they could come stay with us, and we have plenty of room, but we had to tell them there was NO way they were going to drive across that current. During the course of the night, we kept in touch with them over the cell phones as the breaking waves flooded all around their house, with the water level coming to within inches of their floor level. Everything around their home was washed away. Their two vehicles were floating in the yard, with water to the "bonnets". The electrical circuits were shorting out. The bobbing headlights were illuminating waves now breaking at their top patio step..They were pretty nervous, too. We all stayed up all night, checking in with each other on the cell phones. Worrying about M&M, frankly.

Monday morning it was still blowing, the storm was slowing down to a stop south of us, before heading back up over us one third and final time as a Tropical Storm again. I snapped a photo of the Explorer II again:



Notice it is blown back, and was in fact hard aground on the rocks across the shipyard. You can see the broken piling where she was tied up the previous evening. It also looks to me like she pulled some of the fuel dock area down. This was not a small storm.

We got a call from Dwayne at the marina, at 8:00 Monday, and the floating docks had all let go, and "all the boats are gone". Our friend Preacher called a while later, and he had seen Cay Lime. He gave us the bad news, she was upside down on the rocks, with two holes in her hull, etc. Really bad news for us. But the water on the road between us and town was four feet deep, with fast currents in several places. No way could we get out. Impossible. It was still very rough on our side of the islands, and of course I was very worried about the boat, and what these waves were doing to her if she was aground.



I didn't quite understand it all, yet. I had heard the words, but I guess I was still worrying about some scratched paint. I had been told she was totalled. I didn't want to believe it. I still don't.

We have since been told that over 40 boats are missing, smashed or sunk. Sail Provo's 50 foot catamaran, "Phoenix" is totally gone. Nobody has a clue where she is. My guess is just outside the reef . On the bottom. But I sure hope not. That is a beautiful boat, and the owner is a friend of ours.

We were stuck out at the house without power until Wednesday morning. The Fire Department sent boats and evacuated M&M on Tuesday. We were able to drive out the next day with our Land Rover. It was a fairly hairy little drive, across deep water flowing across the road. This is a later photo of a power cable draped across the road. We came onto this in driving rain, and just saw it in time not to run straight into it. I took this photo on a later return to the house on Thursday:



We moved into a vacation house in the Grace Bay area. We had power, and television, and internet. And a clothes dryer. Our working wardrobe was entirely drenched from our Sunday night escapades. The water heater was not on, but we enjoyed the cold showers anyway after three days without. We ran down to the marina to see the boat situation.

This is our first view of the marina at Leeward:




And this is where I last saw Cay Lime on Sunday afternoon, floating happy and safe,



This is our outboard at low tide on Wednesday afternoon:



It was submerged at high tide. For days.

This is our console, underneath the overturned hull:



To a boater, there is just something almost obscene about that. Then when it's YOUR boat....oh man.

Of course the t-top, antenna, rod holders, seat, and everything in the seat and the bow locker are history. All our snorkelling gear, some other stuff. Haven't really totalled it all up yet. Dooleys life jacket is history.

Time to change the subject..

This is in the area where we are staying:



defrocked palmists?)

Same area, trees blown down in different directions:



Some of the boats that were tied to the same floating dock as Cay Lime:



We went back to the marina yesterday (Thursday) morning, and the weather was a lot better. We had to deal with the boat, even though we had a thousand other things running through our mind with another hurricane coming. If I left it on the rocks, the next storm would beat it completely to pieces and wash it away. There are liability issues. And salvage options. Some more of the boats that came ashore on Heaving Down Rock, in Leeward:



Out of the dozen or so boats tied to our dock, and however many were tied up at the next dock, I could only find seven washed up on the rocks. I guess the rest are sunk, jammed somewhere else, or blown out to sea.

The marina staff were running boats all over, gathering up the bits of the floating dock where they could find them:



Our friends Dwayne and Duran, arranged for a front end loader to stop loading docks long enough haul Cay Lime up and flip her over for us. A number of people we don't know helped us out.



Isn't this whole week getting a little surrealistic or something?



This was exceptionally painful for me. Silly how you can get attached to a boat. I keep telling myself it's just an expensive plastic toy. But it feels more like losing a family member or good friend.

Its getting late, so I am going to wrap this up. I have plenty more photos, but I suspect the next few days will obsolete them.

The sat dish took a beating, with the convex side pushed halfway to the concave side:



I imagine there is some kind of geometric term for that. Sort of a yin-yang thing.

The boatyard down in the protected marina recorded steady winds of 84 mph. We have heard of two other people with weather stations who saw between 101 and 105 mph. I believe it. That sat dish damage was pure wind. No impact damage.

The animals are acting strange. We have seen three roadkilled dogs, and that is about how many total we had seen here in three years before this week. We passed a flock of flamingos standing in the salina:



They normally would never let you drive up that close, open the door, and get out and take photos. They land way out in the middle of the salina, where there are no people.

And Dooley...well describing Dooley for the past week would be some outline material for submitting a paper on observed behaviour to Canine Psychology magazine, if there is such a thing. He's not sure what's going on!

We spent today at our house, strengthing garage doors, cleaning up loose stuff from the area, etc. We saw M&M arranging to have their now useless automobiles towed away to higher ground:



Our patio, with the storm shutters closed correctly this time. Oh sure, ANYbody can close them up right in the daylight and light winds...



I took the Sherpa out to pick up some lumber for the doors. The pickings are easy, loose lumber everywhere. Some of it even dry.



That new speed bump is courtesy of where the sea was overflowing from the marina there. This is the same spot shown in the fording photos in the previous post. The road got a bit washed out.

I climbed up on the roof to see if I could find the source of the water leaks in the photo I posted earlier. The view from up there was pretty decent:



She's an innocent, sweet looking ocean this afternoon, isn't she. Still, something is not quite right with her. We all feel it. Even Dooley. Maybe even especially Dooley.

Didn't take long for me to confirm what I already suspected from that interior flash photo. No caulking on the joint between the tongue-and-groove grooves, and the ceiling beam. Nice wide gaps all around. Wonderful. Just wonderful. Thanks, roofing guy.



Oh, what a hundred mile an hour wind can do with those grooves and some rain water. An ant could walk through those holes with a top hat on. Pretty straight correlation with the earlier leaks, wouldn't you say? They don't look like that now. I caulked them. Both sides, and anything else I could find.

We lost two cap strips off the roof. This is above the corner where the wind lifted me off my feet.



There was nothing I could do about this today, but it's not going to be a source of leaks. Any water that gets in here will just run down the roof felt/tarpaper under the aluminum sheeting, and into the gutter. We were not seeing leaks under this.

So, that's basically up to the present. We are expecting a Cat 3 hurricane, Ike, to make a direct hit here tomorrow night. We are expecting 115 mph winds. But what's worrying me is that the people who know these things are warning of up to fifteen feet of storm surge. This will seriously disrupt this little nation. Salt Cay has already been evacuated. Why does it worry me?

On our trip back from the house this afternoon we picked up a Haitian who was hitchhiking down that long dirt road we live on. We gave him a ride to town. He had been working at a house doing cleanup from the storm all day. We mentioned the bigger storm tomorrow. And he was totally unaware of it. And I suspect I know the area where he lives, and it is low, and the housing is, well, let's just say it is not up to building code. If he was unaware that we are expecting a fifteen foot storm surge tomorrow...how many other non-English speaking Haitians and others are living in low areas in shacks? They have no television, don't speak english very well if at all, and are in danger of being trapped by rising storm surge while being surrounded by flying debris. Tomorrow night. In the terrifying darkness and in the incredible violence and noise of a serious Hurricane. See why I am worried? They have kids with them. A lot of Haitians cannot swim. They hesitate to reach out for help, because chances are some of the relatives living with them are not legally here. They don't call the police to come help them.

We dropped our hitch hiker off, and tried to impress upon him that this is a BIGGER storm. VERY bad. Big Ocean. Find a good house, high up. We hope he understood. We think so. We can be sufficiently scary when we need to be.

This post was hasty. I have about four times that many photos, but it's one thirty in the morning and I have had a couple really long days. And I don't expect we will sleep at all tomorrow night. So if I missed some typos, or put photos in the wrong places, forgive me. I will sort it out later.

We would expect to have power here until late tomorrow (Saturday) night. And so we should still be able to communicate until then. After that, it's a guess when we will be online again. We are unable to predict what a 115 mph wind and a fifteen foot storm surge will do here, as it hasn't happened in almost fifty years. It won't be good. The storm is going to score a direct hit on us, and there's no way to avoid it at this point. Perhaps the electrical repairs after Hanna last weekend will hold through Ike tomorrow and we don't lose power. We can only hope.

This evening La Gringa figured out that by this time Sunday night we will have been through two Tropical Storms (Hanna's passes 1 and 3), two Hurricanes (Hanna pass 2, and Ike), lost a boat, and spent three days totally isolated from the rest of the world. That's all in one week. damn. A new personal record.

This is probably the best tropical shot I got this week. The sea from our patio this afternoon. The calm between the storms..



With trouble on the horizon.

22 comments:

Johnny said...

Jesus you guys
Anything...and I mean anything I or any of my freinds can do...
Its yours!
Hang the hell on, you have planned for this...bunker up and do what you know you can do...ride it out!
When it comes time to put things back together you know that all of us are waiting to help wherever we can!
Dooley...well you can come stay with us?

Patty P said...

Please keep us updated and be safe. Do you know of anywhere the Haitians can shelter? Maybe some of the locals can go evacuate them.
You surely don't want to see them washed up on the rocks.

Patty P

Anonymous said...

Good Luck Guys I hope God watches over everyone down there in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of the damage from Hanna. I hope Ike passes as quickly as possible with minimal harm. Hang in there!
Best wishes-
Sherb

bradvo said...

Good documentary Gringo of Hanna, but scares the crap out of me for you guys on that island knowing Ike is comming.
Sorry to hear of you guys losing the Panga, I have read quite a few of your diving posts. It can be replaced in do time but you guys cannot. Prayers that Ike does little to effect you all, you've had enough.
Brad

heinz said...

I am glad you are safe and hope that today passes swiftly. Thank you for posting

Anonymous said...

Wow..the pictures say a thousand words. Thank you for taking the time to update us. We will be thinking about you guys tonight..and waiting for that update from you. BE SAFE...

Take care,
Heather

goingtoprovo said...

My heart aches for you two(and poor Dooley) and everyone else on your islands. TCI is on my mind every moment. Glad you guys have somewhere comfortable to stay to weather this thing. Those poor Haitians.

Don said...

Good Luck Gringo, been thinking about you. Glad the three of you are OK.

Tell Ike to go NORTH>>>>

Anonymous said...

The summation of your week really got to me... That you've been through so much, are facing so much, and still found time to share with those of us who don't even know you but who are hurting for you... Yours is a generous heart. Thank you and God bless.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about Cay Lime, the good news is that the house fared well. The most important thing is that you three are O.K. Stay safe during Ike I will be thinking of all three of you. I look forward to hearing from you in a couple of days.

Craig

Bendernz said...

So vetry frustrating knowing there is nothing I can do to help out. However you have mny contacts and if there is anything I can do, just holler. Regards Shane

Anonymous said...

Gringos...

My heart sank when I read this. Especially the pictures of Cay Lime. Good luck!

John said...

Very rough times for you. The house seems like it came through well, and you were so smart to build up from the water a bit. I can believe how upset you feel about losing Cay Lime -- a boat can feel like a good friend after it has taken you out safely in all types of weather.

I hope all goes well. Good luck. And prayers for the Haitians and others in high risk locations.

Gringo said...

As I am writing this it has just gotten dark here. The wind is picking up quickly. Hurricane Ike strengthened to a Category 4 this afternoon, and the forecast is for a direct hit with 135-140 mph winds tonight. I keep thinking of driving at 140 mph and sticking your head out the window...for some reason.

Oh..Craig asked in a comment to the previous post about the garage door situation. I have mulled it over a bit, and I think I have an idea. Rather than replace the doors, I might look into buying some of the new fabric hurricane shutters for them. It would be very easy to put them up and take them down, and they would protect the overhead doors from wind and rain. We really only need them a few times a year, and this might be a good solution. I can install them myself.

Check out http://www.stormcatcher.com/

or
http://www.hurricaneproducts.com/hurricane-screens/

there are a lot of suppliers.
What do you think?

We expect to lose power within the next few hours, so this blog will get pretty quiet from our end until Ike goes away and the island gets re-connected.

Anonymous said...

i dont know if you guys remember me but im bluffman2 from THT and i just wanted to say that you all our in our thoughts and prayers and if there is anything we can do for you,just let me know...having went through Katrina i can feel your pain....please take care and keep us updated.....

Anonymous said...

There's really nothing more to say that hasn't already been said by others. Stay safe and know that many are thinking of all of you.

cass

Dad said...

Yeah, likewise to all of the above. The words "Turks and Caicos" before were just words but thanks to your blog, they now leap right off any (internet) page at me!!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7602155.stm

Thinking of you all - the two legged and the four legged!!

Anonymous said...

Well, it is Sunday morning. I have read the news and looked over the pictures. All I can do is wonder how you guys are. Looks like you three had a long, difficult night. It will probably be a while until we hear from you. We are all so worried and very much looking forward to seeing that you are all ok. Take care...
Heather

Anonymous said...

All the best to you and everyone on those beautiful specks in that great big ocean.

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys, It's Jay and Sandy Bottle Creek Lodge. We have been thinking about you guys and hope you fared well last night. It sounds like things were slightly better than expected on Provo, but I am sure its still devastating to be down there. Our condolences on Cay Lime. We won't know for some time I imagine how our Andros Panga is doing on North and how the Grady White fared over at Caicos Marine.

Our thoughts are with you. Take care.

CaptWill said...

Gringo, the Admiral and I have kept all of you there on T&C, in our prayers, throughtout this weekend. We're hoping that life can somehow get back to normal for you soon.

CaptWill