Monday, September 8, 2008


This is one of the last photos I took Saturday night as we waited nervously for Hurricane Ike to hit us. The winds were picking up, and we knew it was going to get worse for the next eight hours. But at sunset, it was still pretty peaceful. The view is to the west, and you can see the trees being bent already by the north wind:

We rarely get north winds here.

The sustained winds in the storm were 135 mph with higher gusts, but I have to believe that the eyewall was just barely far enough south of us to lessen the impact here slightly. We are on the north side of the island of Providenciales, and there are two low limestone ridges between us and the south side three miles away. Of course the south side, where we live, would have seen the full, unimpeded fury of the wind coming directly across the water. Wind coming up the slope from the sea to our house speeds up. We know that. We were very concerned about our new, untested house. Of course we expected the worst.

Well, we made it through the night. It was dark, and noisy,and we were awake at 3 AM listening to heavy ceramic tiles being ripped off the roof. I shot some short video of a bush low to the ground being battered by the wind. This is through double insulated, hurricane resistant glass. I did not dare go outside. It would have taken a real emergency.

We left the 'safe house' where we were staying yesterday morning when the winds died down to around 50 mph. It was blowing rain off and on, but we really needed to get out to our own home and see how it fared.

One of the first things we could not help but notice was a tractor trailer truck turned on it's side. This is right near where we were staying:

It wasn't until we had driven past it that we realized it had flattened two mature palm trees on it's way down. And we were saying "wow! Look at that!" for about five minutes. Then we no longer bothered taking photos of ripped up trees. There are more than enough to go around.

One of the roads out was pretty well blocked:

The road we live on was still flooded in places, but the water was receding. The storm path kept Provo just out of the storm surge. In fact, it was nowhere near as bad as Hurricane Hanna the previous weekend. Gosh that seems like a long time ago, now. Busy week.

Many homeowners were incredibly lucky that we did not get the 15 foot storm surge that was predicted. The people in that house with the white roof on the left, for example.

Our first view of our own home. Hallelujah, the roof is still white aluminum instead of wet wood and tarpaper colored.

You can see that it is exposed to the direct wind from every direction except South, where the hill gives it a little protection.

I had parked Cay Lime's remains in our driveway and secured it as best I could in the limited time I had.

I tied it to the base of the sat dish, ran lines to the bases of some sturdy survivalist-looking bushes, and drove steel rebar rods into the ground where I could.

I thought that the hill would shelter it from the direct wind pushing it toward the house. Seems it worked.

The aluminum strips were blown off the roof. I had been very disappointed when I was on the roof Friday afternoon caulking places the roofing contractor neglected to caulk. Those caused us water damage during Hanna. I was even more disheartened to see that the installers had tacked some of these strips in place with four pop-rivets, and never went back to complete the job. (Gee, Thanks, Nate. I won't be hiring you to fix it. Uh...and I wouldn't use us as a reference if I were you)

Not exactly the normal view of the water, is it.

Hey, anybody want to buy a boat, only 18 months old? 200 hours on the engine? Was well maintained for all but one night in September...

You can see by the Land Rover's canvas top that it was still blowing over 40 mph at this point. And raining.

I had been very concerned about our troublesome, 10 foot wide garage door. It faces North, and I knew we would be getting the full force from that direction. Frankly, I had not expected it to survive, but I did what I could with what I had. I took the strips of wood I had picked up on the road after the previous storm and cut them (with a japanese style hand saw, no electricity) to fit in the top of the door. I put screws in to hold it. Then I placed a sheet of plywood against it and backed the Samurai up hard against it, using the spare tire on the little sherpa as a rubber bumper:

Well, goodness gracious, it worked.

Ah, you may ask what are all the white specs all over everything. The ones that look like a flock of seagulls with digestive issues camped out in the garage...Well, the ceiling of the garage has what is called a 'popcorn' finish. This soft material is globbed onto it leaving a bumpy texture. The wind drove the rain through the small opening over the top of the garage door, and blasted the popcorn finish off the ceiling right down to the primer coat:

You can just see where I hammered the wood strips up under that top, bent edge of the door and the screws I put in to hold it. Sometimes, the ideas work.

I am sure you also can understand why I want to completely replace this door with something better. And of course all that steel mechanical stuff up there is living on borrowed time, especially after the soakings that Hanna and Ike provided. I am pretty sure I will go with a heavy wooden door that I will build. It will be suspended from a track attached to the wall and another track will hold the base. The hardware will be stainless steel. It will be overbuilt. It will stop a thrown fire axe or a Commanche's arrows. A minor Klingon attack. It will be securely fastened. And it won't get blown open by a piddly little Category 4 hurricane. ( gosh I sound tough and brave, now, don't I.)

We checked out the house pretty well. The caulking I did Friday stopped the main leaks. We still had additional water damage from Ike, but that was because the roof cap strips got ripped off. These are all very fixable problems. It would be difficult to tell you how relieved we were to find that our new, untested home came through a Category 2 and then a Category 4 hurricane in the same week with the only damage being that caused by a shoddy roof installation. Oh, we do have some gutters that need tightening up. But they did not blow off the house. If it had not been for the water leaks, we would have had no damage at all. This is a very good feeling.

Leaving the house, I did shoot some photos on the way back to where we are staying until our electricity gets turned back on.

From what we have seen so far, I would say this is about the 'average' roof damage on Providenciales:

That house is very well tucked into the terrain, with only the top third of the roof exposed to direct wind. And that top third got peeled.

These next two must be thanking their lucky stars we did not get the fifteen foot storm surge. This time.

I was wondering how this house fared, since it is so close to sea level and built largely on imported fill. I can see they lost a fair bit of their yard, and all their landscaping. But their roof seemed to have done well, and its good to note things like that.

Then, as we drove past I looked back and saw that the other side of the roof and their garage were stripped to bare wood. whoops. Stay with the metal roof, I think.

I could put up hundreds of photos like this one, but you already get the idea:

I would say roofers and landscapers have all the job security they need for quite some time to come.

Someone put a rock on this power line to keep it from flopping around in the wind;

I would think it takes a fair bit of wind to knock a gas pump down.

I guess you would drive up to that one if you were looking for a 'leaner' mixture..
(sorry...I couldn't help myself)

I don't know how part of the neighbors porch got up there, but it did:

The streets are pretty well crudded up with debris in places, but passable.

Biggest hazards are wooden boards with nails, and downed power lines. A lot of the small debris is underwater where you can't see it, so some caution is still needed driving around.

I guess you would have to be a little 'off base' to use this phone right now. Of course you could say that while you were 'still on the fence, you were leaning in that direction....'

(okay, okay...I will stop it. Honest.)

But I tell you what, bubba, this here was a genuine squall and a half, I don't care who y'are...

We took a ride down to our former marina to see if anything was changed there. We did notice some boaters had secured their boats to various objects. But tying the boat to the bow does nothing to keep it from rolling over and up onto dry land.

At least it's not lost at sea or sunk, as has happened to so many of our boats down here this week.

Good old Caicos-built conch boats. They might not be pretty, but they sure are rugged:

The parking lot at the marina is all changed from when we last saw it Thursday when we salvaged Cay Lime.

We had considered parking Cay Lime here, since we still rent a now imaginary slip. But in the end I wanted to put it somewhere that I could keep it from causing damage to someone else's property. That's really the only reason we hauled it all the way out to our house on that road. I am glad we did.

These boats were blown off their stands and across the parking lot:

I see Premier Mike's house has plywood over the doors and windows just like everybody else. But at least his roof didn't blow off. Maybe I can get the name of his roofing contractor...

This panga was facing about 90 degrees to the right when I last saw it. And it appears that some wooden structures on the adjacent property at the Conch Farm blew apart and damaged not only this boat..

but possibly this van as well.

I do not know where the debris came from, but I am sure the owner would recognize it.

After that little excursion we came back to where we are staying, and were collapsed fairly early in the evening. I wanted to get these photos up while they were "fresh". We will be taking more as the week goes on. And hopefully, we will get a break from these storms for a while.

And if you want some nice sunny tropical photos...please be patient because this, too, shall come to pass. Or you could go look at most of the previous posts. If you suscribe to the blog , you will get an automatic email telling you every time we put up a new post.

To be continued...

From La Gringa: Anyone wishing to donate may do so via the Red Cross online. Please specify the Turks & Caicos Islands. If you are off island and would like specific photos of your properties here on Provo, please use the link at the bottom of the page to email us with your specifics. We'll do the best we can.

(From Gringo again: and there's always the Cay Lime Restoration Society...)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the news Gringos and we're glad that you came out relatively undamaged.

Any more news from Caicos Marina Boatyard? My boat is there and I can't get in touch with them.

We feared the worst but you said 'we' escaped the predicted surge. I read of the south side marinas being wrecked on a diving forum. - Dave

Anonymous said...

We are just about to leave the house now. We will try to get some photos of the Caicos and South Side marinas. We drove through Turtle Cove marina yesterday and did not see any boat damage there at all.

Anonymous said...

Just catching up on your week. Started with this post and my heart sunk when I saw the state of your boat tied down in the driveway. Glad to hear y'all came through the storms with no injuries and only minor house damage, though.

I know how much work is involved with the clean-up and putting things right again... best of luck. Won't be long until things start to feel normal again.

Mike in BDA

heinz said...

Thank you for all of the updates and glad you came out okay (all things considered).

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you two are ok. House and boat can be replaced.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the pictures and descriptions up. We have friends on GT and we wondered how bad things got. Now we can see.

Good luck with the cleanup ... and finding a roofing guy!

Allan at

Unknown said...

ok goes on!
You don't know how happy we are to know that Dooley is fine...Smile!!!