Hurricane Michael

On Columbus Day weekend the family spent the long weekend at St. Joe Beach. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just for fun. We had  the task of installing sprinklers in the yard, but we also did have some time planned for going to the beach. On this trip, we took the entire family including the four legged ones.

I had discussed the troubles we had with our sprinkler system installation in my posts Irrigation Install Part 1 and Irrigation Install Part 2. We finished up the installation Monday afternoon with a hurricane forecast for coming ashore in Apalachicola on Wednesday. We left having had talked with the neighbors about the storm beginning to gain strength. Even though it was originally expected to come ashore as a category two, it had already been increasing in strength and was forecast to come ashore as a category three. Even so, with those forecasts, and the eye going over Apalachicola, it would put us on the “good” side of the storm.

Michael the Night Before Landfall

We woke up Tuesday morning, back in Pace, to reports of an even stronger storm. They were now forecasting a category four storm. The schools in our county decided to close on Tuesday and I received reports of my work location closing down on Tuesday as well. By Tuesday evening, we knew we would be dealing with a strong storm coming ashore. Hurricane Michael was going to do some damage!

Wednesday we watched the forecast change from coming on shore in Apalachicola to now coming ashore in Panama City. This would be bad for the Port St. Joe area because it would put us in the Northeast quadrant of the storm. This is where it is always the most severe and truly is  the BAD side of the storm.

We started getting really worried at this point. I knew the house could withstand a pretty strong storm. However, we did get concerned with the possibility of flooding. Our house is only a block and a half from the beach and we couldn’t see how a strong storm like that wouldn’t bring a large storm surge along with it. The other concern was our flood insurance would not go into affect until three days after the storm was expected to hit. That is another story in itself!

The Device is Offline!!

We watched the storm come ashore on top of Mexico Beach at near category five strength. We had no idea what to expect at the house. I know when the power went out because our sprinkler timer went offline. After that, we knew it was going to just be a waiting game. We watched the weather channel for information and that isn’t always the best thing. I believe the Weather Channel has to play things up to help increase their viewer base.

After the storm passed by, the news started coming in. The eye passed just west of Mexico Beach which put not only Mexico Beach, but also our little place within only a couple of miles of near category five strength winds. We just took pretty much a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.

Reports showed complete devastation of the area. We did not know what happened to our little place. Being the pessimist that I am, I assumed the worse. I felt like the metal would be gone from the pole barn and we would have a house which had been flooded out.

Four days after the storm, the reports of road conditions seemed clear enough for us to try and get to the beach and check on the house. To our surprise, from the exterior, everything looked pretty good. There were about six trees down in the yard. The pole barn tin was still there! However, the entire barn was leaning from the fallen trees. None of the windows were broken and everything looked in place.

Sewage Backup Through Tub

Once we opened the front door the entire situation changed. We had a water line in the house about four to five inches high. We assumed we had been flooded. From the outside it looked like we escaped storm surge, but the inside was a different story. After we looked around and investigated more we figured out where the water came from. The sewer backed up from the storm surge and had nowhere to go but up through the shower, tub, and toilets.

We continued to look around and the water had gotten high enough to touch all appliances and furniture. Nothing in the cabinets on the bottom shelves had gotten wet, but the water did get just up to the edge. Also, all of the doors did get wet at the bottoms as well. It was a crappy mess!

Tree Against the Barn

The exterior was also pretty messed up. As mentioned, there were lots of downed trees and the service entrance pole had been bent from trees falling down and pulling on the power line. These things however, are all replaceable and can be cleaned up. The amount of devastation we saw on the drive over was quite amazing. I never knew a storm could do such horrible damage.

This weekend we will begin our clean up. My father-in-law and uncle will be assisting. The goal is removing the flooring and sheet rock up about eight to ten inches. We need to expose the insulation which has gotten wet and make sure we remove anything which has begun molding. This is a small set back, but we will fix our home and enjoy our time next year for sure at St Joe Beach.

Irrigation Install Part 2

After a day of rest and time on the beach Sunday, I was ready to go with finishing up the sprinkler installation. I had contacted my father-in-law Saturday when I had troubles and he delayed his trip over until Monday to assist.

The first hurdle was getting a working trencher. The rent-all place opened up at 6:30 CST so I left the house with the intent to be there when they opened the door. I arrived at 6:25 and they already were open. I went in and let them know my troubles and they immediately went to work on the trencher I had rented. I watched from a distance as they worked on the machine. After approximately 45 minutes it still was not up and running. However, I saw another renter returning a trencher so I went over and asked about it. I was informed it had worked great. I asked the staff if I could go ahead and take that one instead. They agreed and I was back in business.

I headed back to the house to get started because I knew I would have help arriving soon and it would be nearly 8:00 when I got back home. I backed in, unloaded the trencher, and started working.

The back yard section of the system was the most difficult. There are a lot of pipe crossings in the areas around the control valves and involved with getting the four zones where they needed to go. There are also some trenches for electrical and control lines that were made. The new trencher worked great and progress was being made.

My father-in-law arrived shortly after I got started and Stephanie had cooked breakfast. Biscuits, bacon, and eggs for breakfast was good! I had forgotten to get jelly so they were a little dry, but it was still very good. I had a biscuit and a couple of slices of bacon, then I got back to work. 

During the project, Stephanie made a couple of supply runs to Cathey’s Hardware at Mexico Beach for fittings we had run low on. I thought to only make a couple of supply runs was pretty good considering the planning was done ahead of time. If I do another project like this again, I will buy what I think I need and then buy 10 extra of every fitting type. They can always be returned when the project is complete.

Installed System

We finished up about 4 PM. I was exhausted. I had been having chills the last couple of hours and was becoming dehydrated. We were drinking water and Gatorade throughout the day, but somehow I just couldn’t get enough fluids. I had been having cotton mouth most of the day.

We decided not to test the system because there was a hurricane headed into the area. It was supposed to come ashore in the next 48 hours and I knew the yard would be getting plenty of water from the storm. The plan was to head back over the weekend to finish adjusting all the heads and setting everything up. We left the house about 6 PM.

Irrigation Install Part 1

So, we came to St. Joe for the weekend for a trip which was supposed to be a mixture of fun and work. I was hoping for more fun than work, but I do not think it is going to turn out that way. 

We got in Friday evening after a great trip over. It took both vehicles with all the stuff we were bringing. It was an entire family trip, so that meant the humans and the canines. I worked a half day and then there was a lot of running around required before we could head over. I was hauling a ton of sprinkler stuff and Stephanie had all the remaining items.

I got up this morning and started laying pipe out it the yard. There are over 40 heads going into the yard which requires nearly 800 feet of pipe. After I completed the layout, I constructed the water manifold for the control valves. I completed the hole where the valves will be installed and then it was time to head into town for renting the trencher.

I thought I was going to be doing a good thing by renting on Saturday mid day. One day rental would last all afternoon Saturday and all day Sunday. I wouldn’t have to return the machine until Monday morning. That idea failed however, because after approximately 30 minutes of trenching the machine quit running. I couldn’t get it to start again and after pulling on the cord a while it broke.

I continued to complete as much as I could with the installation:

  • Laid pipe in the trenches I did get done
  • Added the funny pipe elbows to all the sprinkler heads
  • Installed the timer on the side of the house.

Monday morning I will return the trencher. I hope they will have something I can get for completing the job because our yard has been without water for over a week now. It was looking pretty good last Saturday and because I knew the sprinklers would go in this weekend I left the water off. That may have turned into a big mistake.

I also added load center to the side of the house. We did not have enough circuits available so I added the box. However, I also did not buy enough wire to connect the box. I was about one foot short. Another snag for the day. I didn’t get to complete the load center today either. I truly do hope I am able to get this completed this weekend!

St. Joe Beach Update #39

We were able to finally move into the house the weekend before Nataleigh’s surgery. We had a great weekend there! We made a trip over to Panama City and played games at Dave and Buster’s which was a compromise made instead of trying to go to Universal in Orlando the day before surgery. 

On Saturday morning, we were supposed to have seven pallets of sod delivered. The truck was running late so it wasn’t delivered until mid day. The crew came in the next morning and threw it all out. We think it turned out very nice. Only down side we did not yet have sprinklers installed. I was able to stretch out some hoses and sprinklers to cover most of the yard. I also added a timer to the well and hopefully it will work like we want it to until I can get back over.

The builder still has some really minor things to complete, but they should be quickies and will be done before we go back over after surgery. It is now time to get the fence built, install sprinkler system, and build the well house. After that, it just becomes time to enjoy our little home away from home. You can check out pictures in the album Construction #10.