Surviving Hurricane Matthew from Afar: Watching my family prepare for the Hurricane while I sit in safety, thousands of miles away.

I am not completely new to natural disasters. I’ve lived in Oklahoma for a good portion of my life and have had the experience of waking up to find that a tornado had ripped the roof off of my neighbor’s house. I’ve been through snow storms and ice storms that were so sudden, so severe that they caused power outages for tens of thousands of people for weeks at a time. I’ve sat huddled with my family in a closet, listening to the weather radio broadcasts, tracking a tornado as it got closer and close to our home. I’ve been out with friends, celebrating an engagement when the news suddenly flashed on that a tornado was touching down. The big red square that encompassed the tornadoes path went RIGHT over our neighborhood, 10 miles away, where our kids were home alone. They were plenty old enough to be home alone, but dealing with a tornado? Yikes! That was a scary night. We’ve raced away from a tornado on clogged roads when we got stuck out driving during a storm.

All of that being said, I can say that none of that seems like much when it comes to our first hurricane experience.

Having never been personally near a hurricane, I guess I never grasped the size and the… I never realized how LONG they last. I didn’t know that they didn’t just happen and then peter out like a tornado. I had NO clue that they would go on for DAYS and could even gather up more strength days after they started. I was not prepared.

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My husband Patrick and two of our kids, Jaedin and Abyni are in Georgetown, Bahamas right now. I left on the Saturday before the hurricane because my kids had bought me a ticket to come back to Oklahoma to visit. Pretty much as soon as I left, the Hurricane preparations had to begin. Our crew gathered to help other people with their boats, help a local resort get their dock put out of harm’s reach and basically just banded together with the few off season cruisers who were in Elizabeth Harbor near Georgetown. Everyone banded together, joined int heir varying levels of experience and made sure that everyone was as prepared as they could be. They worked furiously to get everyone’s boats stripped down as much as possible. They checked the mooring lines from the vacant boats (the boats are unattended because of people who fly back home to their various countries during the super hot “off season”), took care of each other, made “ditch bags” (with their emergency things, boat paperwork, passports, legal papers, etc.) stocked up on water and some basic food necessities and prepared to hunker down at the resort St. Francis together and wait out the storm.

Generally, I don’t worry much about storms. I don’t worry about a potential storm until its RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE. This all seemed very surreal, because I was leaving right as this impending storm was looming over the not so distant horizon. I felt pulled in two directions anyway, leaving one part of my family to go see the other part of my family… but then to have this storm looming down on them? I was in turmoil. I wasn’t there to see with my own eyes what was going on. Patrick was updating faithfully (as I had hounded him relentlessly to do), but I found myself wondering “Is he just trying to make it sound like everyone is safe and sound so that I don’t worry?”

Still, I felt like I was handling everything pretty well… until I started bursting into tears when trying to talk to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Until I realized that I really couldn’t focus on ANYTHING for any amount of time without getting seriously distracted by thoughts of the impending doom. Then I’d have to check facebook to see if any of them had messaged me or updated facebook.

Of course Jaedin’s facebook updates look like this (have I mentioned how sarcasm is our family love language? Well this dry humor thing seems to be Jaedin’s default response to stress.)

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Patrick was being great about updating with details and photos. I think he knows me well enough to know that the more information I have, the better I feel. People following our Facebook page probably started to wonder why he was posting so much… sorry, that’s probably my fault! He was even messaging me MORE details than he posted online, just to reassure me.

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I felt like a complete nervous wreck for the two days leading up to the predicted time of its arrival. Then Patrick posted a video on Facebook of the very beginnings of the storm.

 

Abyni messaged me on facebook to say, “The edges of the hurricane have now hit”

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Then I get a photo of Abyni out with our friend Jettie, the surf in the background and it gives me that surreal feeling of “Oh, its not THAT bad”

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But then comes the incommunicado time. I’m not seeing updates, not getting messages… and I don’t know what’s happening.

And suddenly I just went… I don’t know, super calm. Hyper focused. Weirdly… not nervous. Not worried, just in some sort of feeling like I was almost on PAUSE.

So I do what I always do (if I can) when I feel stressed beyond functioning. I started writing.

I don’t know what to think or what to worry about. From the sounds of it, my humans are absolutely safe. They are on land, in a building and if that isn’t enough, there is a secure hurricane shelter UNDER the building where they’re at. They will be fine. That’s a HUGE relief and for some reason, now that I know I CAN’T hear from them for a while, I’m just… I feel weird. I don’t know what to do with this.

I’ll update later today when I hear from them. This is me in the moment.

Holy CRAP. Patrick just updated again with a really freaking stressful video… one of the big catamarans in the hurricane hole with us has come partially loose from its mooring just as the storm was winding up. Its in line with our boat… so if it comes loose, its likely it would hit our boat. STRESS.

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LOTS OF BAD WORDS. ALL OF THE BAD WORDS. This big ass catamaran is coming loose from its mooring. Our trimaran is right in line to get smashed by it. AAAAAAACCCKKKKK!

Its been a CRAZY, EMOTIONAL rollercoaster of a day.

I’m totally exhausted just from the emotional day of worrying, I can not imagine how exhausted the people who are actually IN it must be. Everything is okay with the humans. We won’t know the fate of our boat until tomorrow when its light. I’m hoping for the best. For all of us who are in or have loved ones in the path of this hurricane.

See my other posts on Hurricane Matthew:

Preparing for our First Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew: Waiting for the Eye of the Storm

Watching from Afar as my Family Preps for a Hurricane (Byn’s perspective from the US)

Weathering Our First Real Storm

Broken Dreams and Happy Endings: The Aftermath of a Hurricane in Georgetown, Bahamas

Hurricane Matthew Salvage Report

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