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After the Storm Reminders and Helpful Links

I’m hoping everyone weathered Hurricane Hermine’s wrath safely, but it has been over ten years since Florida has been hit with a land-falling hurricane.

If you need any reminders for what to do after a storm has passed, hopefully you will find these tips and links helpful:

After the Storm
-Do not operate any appliances that you suspect have been flooded or damaged
-Do not do any digging (to remove fallen trees) without locating utility lines (Dial 811)
-Watch for exposed nails and broken glass
-Stay away from downed power lines
-Do not wade through standing water – there could be diseases or creatures in there
-If your power is out for an extended amount of time, food in your fridge and freezers should be cooked or thrown away

For more information please visit:

Road closures:
Florida 511
Florida Highway Patrol

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has asked us to get rid of all of the standing water once it is safe to do so after the hurricane passes.

Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Holiday 2014

Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Holiday 2014

Click to enlarge image

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday continues through June 8, 2014. During the holiday, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. The holiday begian at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014, and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

This tax free Florida holiday is lined up with the beginning of Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1st and lasts until November 30th each year.

Remember, when severe weather watches and warnings are issued, a “watch” means conditions are favorable for inclement weather and a “warning” means conditions are conducive for development or are expected within the warning’s geographical area.

New this year for Nassau County, Florida, are new evacuation zones effective for the 2014 Hurricane Season.

    The new evacuation zones are based on storm surge, which is water that is pushed toward the shore by the hurricane force of winds. Advancing surge, combined with normal tides, create hurricane storm tide. This can increase water levels fifteen (15) feet or more. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.
Nassau County Florida evacuation zones

Click to enlarge map

If you live on Amelia Island, it is important to realize though there are two ways on and off of the island, Hecksher Drive will be controlled and leaving the Shave Bridge as the main access point. Because the bridge could be damaged or destroyed, Baptist Medical Center will be evacuated during an “A” evacuation – actually, the entire island falls under the “A” evacuation zone.

So, while you are preparing for the 2014 Hurricane Season, it is a good idea to replenish items in your hurricane kit and the following items qualify for the Tax Free Holiday:

Selling for $10 or less:
• Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)

Selling for $20 or less:
• Any portable self-powered light source
• Battery-powered flashlights
• Battery-powered lanterns
• Gas-powered lanterns (including propane, kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel)
• Tiki-type torches
• Candles

Selling for $25 or less:
• Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP gas and kerosene containers)

Selling for $30 or less:
• Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and excluding automobile and boat batteries (listed sizes only)
• AA-cell
• C-cell
• D-cell
• 6-volt
• 9-volt
• Coolers (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Self-contained first-aid kit (already tax-exempt)

Selling for $50 or less:
• Tarpaulins (tarps)
• Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting
• Ground anchor systems
• Tie-down kits
• Bungee cords
• Ratchet straps
• Radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
• Two-way radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
• Weather band radios (self-powered or battery-powered)

Selling for $750 or less:
• Portable generators that will be used to provide light, communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage

Note: Eligible battery-powered or gas-powered light sources and portable self-powered radios qualify for the exemption even though they may have electrical cords.

The following is a short video from the National Hurricane Center, “Overview of a Hurricane.”

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Caring for Animals When Evacuating

Bentley We are in the midst of hurricane season, and with a new puppy in the home, I wanted to know what I should do in case I need to evacuate my Amelia Island home.

Our dog, Bentley (the brown puppy in the picture), like many other pets and their owners, are important members of your family, and yes, they are also affected by emergencies and natural disasters.

If you want your pet to survive a fire, flood, terrorist attack, hurricane or other tragedy, it largely depends on your emergency preparedness planning. There are things you can do today, such as include additional supplies for your pet in your hurricane kit, to be better prepared should the unthinkable occur.

Considering where you will stay during an emergency is directly impacted if you have pets. Many emergency shelters DO NOT allow pets in the facility!

You should NEVER leave your pets behind, so you need to plan now for their care should you evacuate.
-Have a pet carrier large enough for your pet.
-Pack prescriptions, foods, litter, plastic waste bags, cleaning supplies and extra water to travel with your pet.
-Plan for someone else, outside of your area, to care for your pet if you will be unable to do so.
-Relatives or friends you planned to stay with before you had a pet, may not be so willing to help you AND your pet.
-Have a back-up plan should you be away from your home when an emergency strikes.
-Find a neighbor, friend or relative willing to take your pet with them when they evacuate.
-Make sure they know where your Pet Evacuation Kit is kept.
-Have medical records and proof of shots with you.
-Your pet should wear ID tags in case you become separated.
-You keep recent pictures of your children, keep one of your pet with you, too.
-Familiar items will help keep your pets calm, such as their favorite toy, bedding or treats.
-Always have a first-aid kit for pets handy.

Even if you plan to “ride it out” during an emergency, you will need to prepare for your pet, too. Power, water and phones don’t work. Stores will likely be closed and streets impassable, so shop now so you are prepared with at least an additional three days worth of supplies for each of your pets.

Hopefully, you will be prepared and never have to use these tips to care for your animals should you need to evacuate. For additional information, please contact the Humane Society of the United States.

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Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term Forecast

Tropical Storm Chantal in our Long Term ForecastTropical Storm Chantal has formed and is disturbing weather in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica and other countries, but she is still a long way from Fernandina’s shores! Anyway, I’m sure we’ll chat about her more later on this week, in future forecasts for Nassau County, especially if her strength increases as predicted.

A closer area of disturbed weather will increase our chance for showers as we go thru the week. Nothing is expected to form in the next day or two, but we’ll keep an eye out for you.

July 9, 2013: Tuesday will be sunny in Fernnaidna Beach with highs in the mid 80s. Winds will come from our East at about 10 mph.
Tonight: Expect partly cloudy skies overnight with lows in the mid 70s and mild winds from the SE.
Tomorrow: Amelia Island heats up again on Wednesday with highs near 90, yes, even at the beaches. Lows will be in the mid 70s with a 20% chance of rain.
Thursday: Rains enter the forecast with a 50/50 shot of precipitation here in NE Florida. Otherwise, skies will be sunny with highs in the upper 80s. Lows will be in the mid 70s.
Friday: A good chance of showers or storms will hit us again on Friday with those sunny days heating up the overhead clouds. Lows will be in the mid to upper 70s.

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Family Emergency Plan Tips

Family Emergency Plan TipsMy kids are now 18 years and older, and all three of them are attending schools in three different states: Kentucky, Maryland and Florida. We realize now, that we need to update our Family Emergency Plan to include how and where we would even begin to find each other should a disaster strike.

One of the first things we did was pick a relative in an unrelated area of the country to use as a point of contact. We learned from Floyd in 1999, cellular lines were unreliable due to the sheer volume of calls being made in Florida as millions of people were being evacuated. A friend or relative in an area that would not likely be involved in your disaster is a great point of contact.

For example, we’ll use Grandma in Arizona. If the east coast is hit with a disaster we all know to call Grandma and “check in” with our status, needs and plans.

-We are all to follow up with Grandma on a regular basis.
-We all carry cell phones.
-We all are adding our emergency contacts as ICE (In Case of Emergency) to our cell phones.
-We have all learned to “text” messages, sometimes these will go through when a phone call will not

If my son calling from Maryland cannot reach me in Florida, or his sister in Kentucky because, “All circuits are busy,” he is more likely to make a successful call to Arizona.

Another subject we discussed was the school’s emergency plans. We learned on March 2, 2012, how my grandson’s school in Henryville, Indiana executed their emergency plan when their school was destroyed by a rare F5 tornado. Again, phone lines were overwhelmed and facebook became my best form of communication for several hours immediately after the devastation.

Earlier this month, at our orientation at The Florida State University they discussed their emergency plans, and asked us parents to please not call and have our kids return home if there was a hurricane forming in the Atlantic Ocean; odds are we would all be heading their direction anyway.

It is time to talk with your family and make your own Family Emergency Plan!

What about sudden disasters? What will you do if you are in church, at work, or at the grocery store? Where would you go locally to meet up? You need to know where the daycare will be evacuated to if you have children in daycare. If you work in an office building where do you go in case of an emergency?

Do you know about each others allergies, maintenance prescriptions, blood types, or identifying marks? Do you keep recent pictures of each other?

Hurricane season is upon us and with the turmoil in today’s world, your family really needs to have a year-round Emergency Plan.

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Force of Nature – Hurricane Season

Force of Nature - Hurricane Season

By: Steve Rossman

The 2013 Hurricane Season is quickly approaching and will officially start on June 1, 2013 and end on November 30, 2013. Even with these dates representing the “official” start of the season, be aware that tropical storms and hurricanes have and will happen either side of the above dates. We had a very mild taste recently, with heavy and constant rains.

If you live in a high flood risk area like we do, personal preparation is the key to avoiding disaster. Take solid steps ahead of time to ensure the safety of your family and minimize property loss, even when the flood waters come lapping at your doorstep.

By following this list of flood safety tips, your family and home will be ready when waters begin to rise.

    • Call your local “American Red Cross” office to assess your home’s flood risk.
    • Put together a supply kit including battery-powered flashlights and radio, first aid and medications, rain gear and warm clothing, sleeping bags or bedding, several days’ worth of canned foods and bottled water, and any other personal items you must have for health and safety. Let’s not forget our pet’s when packing our supplies.
    • Form a family emergency/evacuation plan. Make sure everyone knows where to go in the event of a flood warning. Make a list of those places you could go–houses of family or friends, shelters or other safe public buildings on higher ground. Provide each family member with a written list of the locations and phone numbers, preferably in order, from first to last resort.
    • Check with your insurance agent on whether or not flood insurance is available for your home. Consult a professional when making flood insurance decisions.
    • Elevate your water heater, furnace and electrical panel to minimize damage if they are in flood-prone areas of your home.

During a Flood Watch or Warning:

    • Fill your car’s gas tank at the earliest suspicion of flood-producing weather or conditions. It will be your quick getaway if the time comes.
    • Move what furniture and valuables you can to the highest floor of the house, or in single story homes, raise them off of the ground as much as possible. Do this at the onset of a flood watch.
    • Stay tuned to local TV and radio for constant updates on the weather forecast, flood level, and watches and warnings. Take all advice and warnings seriously.
    • Evacuate to higher ground as soon as a flood warning is issued. Follow your family evacuation plan while avoiding waterways at all costs. Do not drive into standing water and abandon your car immediately if it does stall in water. Search for high, dry ground, and get there as quickly as possible!

Flood waters contain many contaminates – oil, gas, and raw sewage. If your property has experienced a flood or water-loss of any kind (ruptured water heater, broken pipe, HVAC leak, etc) call AdvantaClean to clean and disinfect your property at (904) 321-9394 for your no cost estimate. Read more about all of our services by CLICKING HERE.

Like us on facebook and receive a 50% discount on a whole house duct cleaning!

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Memories of Superstorm Sandy

Memories of Superstorm Sandy
As we continue our “Force of Nature” series on SearchAmelia, I found a wonderful piece, Memories of Superstorm Sandy, written by Gaetina Hodnett. Hodnett recalls the details of that stormy night and how they could have been better prepared. Reading the first paragraph it was clear if this storm had hit Amelia Island, this could of been our story. The Hodnett family, like many of us here in Fernandina Beach, also lived less than one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” This is indeed an eye opener.

Author credit: Gaetina Hodnett

It was a cloudy Monday in late October 2012 when Superstorm Sandy approached Long Island. The weather reports were frequent and very informative; however, I didn’t think the storm would have any impact on my family because of our experience with Hurricane Irene the previous year. We live less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and sustained minimal damage after Hurricane Irene.

Throughout the day it didn’t rain much but it was very cloudy. Seeing this, I was confident that Sandy would pass through leaving us relatively unscathed. My preparation for the storm merely involved moving patio furniture from the decks and flower pots to secure places.

After speaking to our neighbors, some of them chose to leave but my husband and I decided to stay in our home and endure the storm. My husband moved my car to higher ground and left his SUV in the driveway. After the car was moved, we pulled out our candles and flashlights and felt prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

As the day progressed, I looked out my window and noticed that the sky had become very dark. The winds were heavy and torrential rains had moved in. Utility pole lines swayed rapidly and water rose quickly in my front yard. My husband put pumps in the garage to combat the water but this was a futile attempt to remedy the situation. I watched in disbelief and helplessness as I realized that even the most powerful pump could not sway the raging waters that were taking over our home. We needed to come up with a plan of action if the water didn’t stop pouring into the house.

The Hodnett's back yard.Seeing how quickly things were progressing, my husband went to turn off the main power of the house to prevent a fire and move his car to higher ground. The time that he was gone felt like an eternity and I was afraid to be alone. Thoughts raced through my mind. Could the wind have blown electric lines in the water? Would my husband be able to make his way safely back through the rapidly rising water? I thought for sure something had gone wrong because of the water, wind, and darkness. When I opened the door to go find my husband and evacuate, he was standing there and informed me that the water was too deep for us to try to navigate through. We had no choice. We had to stay put and wait out the storm.

We watched powerlessly from our window as the water continued to rise. The wind was fierce and the entire neighborhood was dark. When the water reached the third step of our high ranch home, we decided that we would climb to the roof if the water continued to rise. After the storm, the National Guard knocked on the door to assist us in evacuating our home. As we watched the waters recede after high tide, we were relieved and thankful that our home, even flooded with four feet of water, remained standing.

The first floor of the Hodnett home.After our long, dark, stormy, and windy night with Superstorm Sandy, I thought about the choices we made both before and during the storm. The choice my husband and I made will impact us for the rest of our lives. Regretfully, we were not prepared for Sandy. The cost was astronomical in the loss of sentimental items – such as pictures, videos, and other personal items – that tied us to special memories of our past. Despite that loss, I feel we are blessed to be alive and share our story.

In the future, I will be proactive in being prepared for all hurricanes and storms by following the advice and recommendations to avoid another horrific experience. My husband and I will take every storm warning seriously because every storm is different and the level of impact will be different. You never know what can happen and we won’t be taking any more chances.

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October 2012 Spawns Hurricane Sandy

October 2012 Spawns Hurricane SandyOctober 26, 2012: Tie down your outdoor furniture Pooh, it is about to be a “Blustery day in the Hundred Acre Woods.” Hurricane Sandy has prompted storm and hurricane watches and warnings from the Bahamas to Fernandina Beach here in Florida. Friday will bring a 30% chance of rain to Amelia Island with partly cloudy skies, strong and gusty NE winds near 40 mph at times, and highs in the upper 70s.
Tonight: We will be keeping an eye on the storm for updates, but so far lows should be in the upper 60s, with a 50% chance of rain and winds from the North at 25 to 30 mph. Gusts will be as high as 40 mph.
Tomorrow: Saturday is looking worse than it did yesterday. Highs will be in the upper 70s with winds around 25 to 30 mph, and gusts pushing 40 mph. Lows will be in the upper 50s with howling winds continuing.
Sunday: Sunny on Sunday of course, it almost always is on Amelia Island. Expect breezy conditions with highs in the upper 70s. Lows will drop into the upper 50s under clear skies.
Monday: Monday will be much cooler, with highs projected to be in the upper 60s. It will still be windy. Lows will be in the upper 40s!

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Survey for Businesses Only Regarding TS Beryl Damage

Survey for Businesses Only Regarding TS Beryle DamageIf you are a business in Nassau County, Florida and you suffered damage from Tropical Storm Beryl, the Nassau County Emergency Management Department wants to know!

Personally, my home suffered much more damage than I originally wanted to believe, but this survey is not for my residence… this is for businesses only. While SearchAmelia was busy with weather, damage and power outages during the storm, we suffered no tangible losses. BUT – if your business did, please fill take a couple of minutes to complete this important survey sent to us by the Amelia Island – Fernandina Beach – Yulee Chamber of Commerce:

Find the survey HERE.

Your response is greatly appreciated!

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Hurricane Hazards: Winds 2012

Hurricane Hazards: Winds 2012Hurricane Preparedness Week bring the discussion of wind and wind speeds. What does a category one or a category 2 really mean? Below you will find the definition of wind speeds and their hazards based on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scalewww.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php classifies hurricanes into five categories based on their sustained wind speed at the indicated time. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and property. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventive measures.

It is important that you know your hurricane warning and alerts terminology www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE19um4VlGU&cc_load_policy=1&list=PL63A9138A2047B1A4– the difference between watches and alerts:

Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
Hurricane Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane wind damage often result in power outages. FEMA works very closely with the Department of Energy who serves as the focal point for response and recovery efforts by monitoring energy infrastructure and coordinates the response across the federal community, state and local governments, and industry.

The Energy Departmen’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) is the designated Federal Sector-Specific agency directing activities for the Energy Sector. In the event of an emergency, this office maintains teams of responders that specialize in energy infrastructure.

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FEMA Partners and the Public Response Capabilities

FEMA Partners and the Public Response CapabilitiesAs National Hurricane Preparedness Week continues, attention is drawn to Hurricane Response: FEMA Partners and the Public Response Capabilities. Below is a good description of what FEMA is and what they do. Since Hurricane Katrina, many people are confused over the mission of FEMA and this week is a great time to discuss FEMA.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

It strikes anytime, anywhere. It takes many forms, a hurricane, an earthquake, a tornado, a flood, a fire or a hazardous spill, an act of nature or an act of terrorism. It builds over days or weeks, or hits suddenly, without warning. Every year, millions of Americans face disaster, and its terrifying consequences.

On March 1, 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

With the approaching hurricane season, FEMA is continuing to aggressively prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, coordinating across the administration while working with state, tribal and local officials to be ready and prepare their communities.

FEMA is part of the emergency management team. That team includes federal partners, state, tribal and local officials, the private sector, non-profits and faith-based groups, and most importantly – the general public.

FEMA encourages all individuals, communities, local, state, tribal governments, private sector, non-governmental and faith-based organizations, congress and senate members to join the National Hurricane Preparedness Week by Making A Pledge, completing your Ready Emergency Preparedness Plan, Updating Your Emergency Kit and sharing your story.

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On a Mission in New Orleans

Doug Ganyo resting in front of 'Our' Project in New OrleansHelmut Albrecht reports on The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Team from Fernandina Beach that is putting their effort in rebuilding New Orleans.

Day One Monday: Day one of our mission is over and we are all tired. But lets go in sequence: the night was hard since the bunk beds have only a thin layer of foam mattress, which makes it to a 150 setting on the sleep number scale.

The morning started with a briefing by Project Homecoming and the information that they just have received a grant to rebuild 11 homes as energy efficient homes. Project Homecoming is getting more and more involved in community projects that also include parks and playgrounds (and not only the construction and reconstruction of homes).

Finally we were assigned to “our site for the week”, which is located on 4th Street close to the Garden District. Driving through the neighborhood, we see a hodgepodge of homes. Some of them very nicely renovated, many of them still in various stages of dilapidation. “Our home” is a duplex and the site supervisor told us that the tub they had recently pulled out was build 90 years ago. The home was not damaged by the flood but strong winds had taken the roof off, which caused all the water damage inside. With all the windows taken out, the house is pretty much gutted.

We have not met the owner yet, but are looking forward to get introduced to her at the neighbor evening on Thursday. It is always very gratifying when you can put a face on your work.

Our task today was to scrape the windows and to get them ready for a primer coat. To reduce the cost for the renovation, many of the windows of the original home can be reused after treatment. It was a very healthy exercise in patience and quite possibly therapeutic (at least for somebody like me who does only little physical work).

The temperature ran up into the 90th and with the famous New Orleans humidity clamping around us, we were sure to test the truth of the label on our PDA t-shirts being “sweat free”. I am disappointed to have to report that the t-shirts failed miserably.

After a day of hard work and almost all windows completed (site supervisor inspected), we retreated to the Olive Tree Village and a SHOWER; a well deserved treat.

Dinner was prepared by one of the FPC teams and since Gene was involved (who’s cooking genius I could already experience last year in Houma) it was delicious: the best red beans and rice dish I ever had. Actually it’s the cooking that keeps drawing me back to New Orleans.
The evening concluded with sharing our experiences of the day and scripture.

Everybody is tired and we will all go to bed soon. Another long and hot day tomorrow. We have to finish the windows and start with the siding. My group is also in charge of dinner tomorrow evening and I have my doubts if we can match Gene’s benchmark.

Recover, rebuild, rejoice, it promises to be a good summary for this week.

Tuesday: Letter from New Orleans – Day 2

A moment of rest in Louisiana Humidity

Han, first of all to your question from yesterday: the reason that the guys sleep upstairs in our camp is that Presbyterian guys are polite. We came home from the worksite very tired and so we did not want the girls to head up the stairs to the second floor.

This morning we left the Olive Tree Village earlier and took a different way through the Garden District. Going along St. Charles we went through an area of richness with beautifully appointed and well-repaired southern villas. Turning into 4th street, where our site is, was like driving into another world.

As we had some time before our site supervisor arrived, we decided to take a walk trough the neighborhood. The next-door neighbor, whom we greeted yesterday, greeted us friendly this morning and seemed to be glad (relieved?) that we were back to continue our job. Many of the homes in the area had been repaired and renovated, but some are just beyond repair. We passed a place that was once a greenery. The truck with fertilizer was still parked in the fenced and locked yard, overgrown with all kinds of flowers and bushes. The roof was like a meadow. Not the garden paradise it once was as Mother Nature is claiming its future. Next door was the “Turning Point” bar, that just had opened for business; a reflective name for a bar in this city and neighborhood.

Back to our home site; we continued to work on the windows and finished the scraping as well as most of the sanding. The windows are now ready for a coat of primer and we are looking forward to our new assignment tomorrow. We have not met our client, the owner of “our” house, yet, but all in our team felt that she is entitled to an excellent job with the highest quality of workmanship (not always so easy in 90+ Fahrenheit, high humidity and little experience in what we are doing).

We left the jobsite earlier this afternoon since we had to prep dinner for all 32 volunteers in our camp. Tuesday is chicken day and so we stopped at Winn Dixie to get some additional ingredients to fix “Mimi’s chicken” (which is chicken done in the oven with tomatoes, mushrooms and onion soup) as well as barbecued chicken. The menu also included a fresh salad, green beans, mashed potatoes and brownies. Reviews were pretty good and we did receive a “well done” from Gene, the chef from yesterday evening.

After dinner reflection. We talked about our experiences on the job site, about what it means for us to serve. Jody, from the Illinois group, shared her story with us. Jody moved to New Orleans short before Katrina to take a well-paid job with a university. She was able to evacuate on time. When she was allowed to come back, most of her belongings were not usable anymore and she could not move back to her home. She found a new “home” up north. After she had developed a distance to the disaster, she was able to have her “Katrina” days and to come back to the city. Being here to give back to the city she still cares a lot for is for her like keeping New Orleans as one of her personal anchor points.

When we received our assignment sheet for the week it said for our site “repair time” and we joked about how this should work. By now we know that it was a typo and that it should have been “repair trim”; however, when I hear Jody’s story and when I reflect on our experience over the past 2 days, maybe we are here to “repair time” for the people we serve.

Out of Sight is Out of Mind

Experts are disecting Unusual Hurricane Season

How easy is it to forget storms and the hot days of summer when hurricanes and tropical storms stay far away from us. The 2010 Hurricane Season came to an end as the third most active season in history, yet for us it came and went almost unnoticed.

The active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season ended Tuesday, and although the U.S. was spared any direct hits of destruction, other destinations didn’t fare as well, including St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados.
Remarkable as this season produced 19 named storms (tied for third with 1995 and 1887), 12 of which became hurricanes. Only 1933 (21 storms) and 2005 (a record 28 storms) were more active seasons.

And it actually took until the last hurricane of the season, Hurricane Tomas in late October, that we took notice as it killed 41 in the Caribbean and Central America and caused more than $500 million in damage. St. Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King described Tomas as the island’s “worst natural disaster.” Floods and landslides closed roads leading to the airports, bringing tourism to a standstill for a week. St. Vincent and Barbados also were hit hard by Tomas. But bringing tourism to a standstill for a full week, is almost a riot for people like me who faced, Gilbert 1988, Hugo 1989, Luis 1995, Mitch 1998, Lenny and company in 1999 and half a dozen other ones in that crazy year, when names ran out twice (2005). Each of those mentioned forced tourism on its knees for the better art of a year if not longer.

In 2010 Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic got hit with heavy rains several times during the six-month season, wiping out roads and bridges. Nicaragua and Honduras got pummeled…again. Hurricanes Karl and Paula caused damage in Mexico.
Guess what … even Canada took a hit. Newfoundland reported about $100 million in damage and one death from Hurricane Igor in September.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. John de Jongh requested disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency three times due to flood damage from named tropical storms. FEMA has become reluctant to give in to financial requests from the US Virgins, considering the many fraudulent activities in the past hurricane hits.

Hurricanes caused $1.6 billion in damage and killed hundreds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The 2010 season started with Alex, the first Atlantic hurricane to form in June since 1966, and ended with Tomas on Halloween weekend.
Before the season began, forecasters predicted an active season, and they turned out to be right. In May, the National Hurricane Center predicted 14 to 23 named storms and 8 to 14 hurricanes.

Imagine the level of destruction if only one category 3 hurricane would have gotten hold of the Oil Leak in the Gulf!!

Florida got spared and up here on Amelia Island, we are wondering why insurance premiums for us still include the excessive wind damage rates. As a former Caribbean Islander I celebrated Hurricane Thanksgiving quietly.

The 10 Costliest Hurricanes to Hit the U.S.

One of many ways Nature gets revenge

With the height of the Hurricane Season staring us in the face and 3 storms brewing in the Atlantic (Earl, Fiona and Gaston), it should be just a reminder to check your insurance policies (if you were lucky enough to get coverage) and make some intense preparations.

These are the ten costliest hurricanes that made US landfall so far as measured by cost (all figures are in inflation adjusted dollars).

1. Hurricane Katrina August 2005
Louisiana and Mississippi
The most destructive hurricane in US History caused an estimated $200 billion in damage.

2. Hurricane Andrew
August 24 – 28, 1992
South Florida and Louisiana
A Category 4 when it hit Florida, Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana as a Category 3. Andrew caused an approximated $43.672 billion in damages.

3. Hurricane Charley
August 13 – 14, 2004
Although a relatively small hurricane, Charley was very intense, causing $15 billion in damage.

4. Hurricane Ivan
September 16 – 24, 2004
It killed the Southern Caribbean Island of Grenanda and then hit the Southeastern United States.
Hurricane Ivan hit Gulf Shores, Alabama on September 16, producing more than 100 tornados and flooding across the American southeast. The remnants of the storm hit the Delmarva Peninsula on the 18th, where it picked up speed, passed back down the coast, became a tropical storm again in the Gulf and then hit Louisiana as a tropical depression. Ivan left $14.2 billion in damage in its wake.

5. Hurricane Hugo
September 22, 1989
St.Croix, Puerto Rico andCharleston, South Carolina
A Category 5, Hurricane Hugo caused $12.25 billion in damages.

6. Hurricane Agnes

June 19 – 25, 1972
South and North Eastern United States
Although a Category 1, and at other times not even a hurricane at all, Agnes carved an $11.2 billion path of destruction from the Florida Panhandle to New York, New York. Most of the damage came from heavy rains.

7. Hurricane Betsy
September 7 – 9, 1965
Southeast Florida, Southeast Louisiana
Falling just short of being classified as a Category 5, Betsy struck the Florida Keys on the 7th, and New Orleans on the 9th. Flooding from the storm breached the levees in New Orleans, leaving the city flooded for ten days. Betsy is also called “Billion Dollar Betsy” because it was the first to cause a billion dollars in damage. In today’s dollars, the total would be $10.79 billion.

8. Hurricane Frances
September 5, 2004
Frances was a Category 2 that caused $8.9 billion in damage primarily as a result of rain and flooding in heavy populated areas.

9. Hurricane Camille
August 17 – 22, 1969
Mississippi, SE Louisiana, Virginia

Camille, a Category 5, was the second most intense Hurricane ever to hit the United States. The final windspeed will never be known because all measuring devices were destroyed. Storm tides, winds, and flash flooding caused by the storm on its track to West Virginia and Virginia caused $8.8 billion in damages.

10. Hurricane Diane

August 17 – 19, 1955
Northeast coast from Virginia to New York

Diane, along with her sister storm, Connie, which hit the same areas just five days earlier, caused $6.9 billion in damage. Most of the damage was caused by flooding.

Publisher’s Note:

Allow me the observation of the following hypothetical scenario.
My house carries a mortgage of $500,000; it is insured for this amount against storm and flooding.(Mortgage requirement). The recent economic downturn has caused the appraised value to be lowered to $300,000. A hurricane renders my property a total loss. Is that loss calculated at $300,000 or $500,000? Does my mortgage company get $300,000 pay out and do I still owe them $200,000 because the insurance adjuster signs off on replacement value and not the insured value?
You think about it. I have been there on several occasions in my life. I know who gets the short end of the stick. How about you?

The hurricane wisdom of old nature people

Caribbean Weather with Tropical Low of July 20, 2010

Click to Enlarge

As some of you may know i’m currently in the Dominican Republic on family / work visit. The looming tropical low that formed over the US Virgin Islands yesterday is showing signs of organization and a tropical depression or possible storm may be in the forecast for Wednesday or Thursday which triggered my curiosity of what our elders here in the DR had to say about heightened tropical activity.

It was rather a revealing wisdom that even for a “seasoned hurricane battered me” rang clear in my ears. I know the SearchAmelia publisher “buried” Mr. Common Sense yesterday but there are still pockets of wisdom left.

Although my Spanish is still in the developing stages and “old Spanish” is even more difficult, the message was clear:” we’ll see an exceptional Hurricane Season this year”. All 4 centennials and 3 respectable late ninety-ers had the same story and…logic.

If their observation is scientific, I leave up to those that require proof that the globe is round and the earth is circling the sun, but the reasoning I got was chilling the least to say.

“When there is more water on land than there is in the ocean and the temperatures of the water are equal to the temperatures on land, the forces of the wind will need to dry the land”.

Even for a lush tropical island like the Dominican Republic where rain is not uncommon the amounts of rain have been staggering in the last two months. Everyone agrees that the amounts of rainfall are exceptional and only seen in such quantities every 30-40 years.

All of my questioned sources, boy and what sharpness of memories I was exposed to,  point to the years 1979 when hurricanes David (cat. 5) and Hortense, 1966 Hurricane Ines cat. 4 and 1930 San Zenon cat. 5 who devastated Santo Domingo had exact similar circumstances as the 2010 soaking weather.

The air temperatures are actually mild for this time of the year although the humidity is extreme, nothing like in Florida, but still exceptionally high.

5 out of my seven interviewees made another observation that struck a cord in my 20 years Caribbean Hurricane experiences: ” When oranges provide 3 harvests before the 6th month is over the abundance cannot last throughout the year as it will wilt the trees before reaching the fifth harvest”.

The orange trees are in their third harvest right now which is two months too early (mid september is normal while the fourth harvest is beginning to mid December.

I know, I sounds very unscientific, yet who are we to question mother nature and can force it to tick like the atomic clock.

These lovely old folks I spoke to today still fear nature and respect its forces, yet leave their faith up to the good Lord, while we scientific buffs try to trick with the “magic” of logic we just buried with Mr. Common Sense.