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.
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!
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.
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!
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.