It’s been a long week since Irma hit the state of Florida and beyond – for all. Not just us.
Given the word was that it could take weeks for residents to be allowed back into the middle Keys – we opted to stay up in Alabama a few more days.
We had been joined by several others evacuees at the Escapee’s Rainbow Plantation park in Summerdale – and it was honestly, quite good to be around community during this difficult time. (Check the Geek’s blog out for a great summation of the fun.)
While the miles were long, it was worth the effort to evacuate by RV. Winds in Summerdale were a touch gusty on Monday, but nothing of note.
We got word from my mom mid-week that power was back on in her neighborhood in Melbourne, so we decided it was time to head back at least that far. Knocking out the majority of the miles back the Keys.
It would give us options once the roads were back open (including storing Zephyr if needed) – even though the estimates at the time were one to four weeks. Ouch.
Definitely one of the big downsides of deciding to leave Y-Not in the Keys is that we knew returning would not be easy. But quite honestly, when we left we really only seriously considered two likely scenarios:
- Irma would veer off enough that we just had tropical storm conditions, thus an easier return and little damage to deal with.
- Irma would, frankly, destroy the Keys and Y-Not.
Taking into account that Y-Not would have a direct Cat 4 hurricane strike AND survive – really wasn’t a likely scenario. Heck, it was against most odds.
Up until Thursday, we only had a couple lower resolution arial photos showing Y-Not still in her slip, which left us with lots of hope… but many unanswered questions.
Well my friends – we’ve now had multiple on-the-ground reports (huge thanks to all who have helped us get in contact with people on the ground!).
Y-Not did not only survive…
.. she seems to be unscathed?!?!?!!?
Remember I said it would take a miracle and half, and everything going precisely right?
I don’t know what we’ve done right in the world to deserve this… but there is no visible damage. It’s like she had a protective bubble over her (we’d like to think all of your positive thoughts combined made that happen.. thank you!).
She’s floating, not taking on water, no broken windows, no visible cracks. Maybe there’s a bent cleat. Even the dinghy looks great (remember, we intentionally deflated it to act as a rear fender.)
A friend of a friend went aboard yesterday who reports no immediately detectable water damage inside either. Bilges were dry. Generator started right up, and ACs running to start getting humidity under control. We will have full systems to test and of course props & rudders to check for possible bends if they hit anything.
But so far… it’s news beyond anything we ever anticipated, and doesn’t quite seem real yet.
And heck yes are we ever so grateful (*wipes tears from eyes*).
This morning, the emergency operations down in the Keys have decided to open up the roads to residents up to the 7-mile bridge. And tomorrow morning, all the way to Key West.
Which means with our letter of residency from the marina – we should hopefully soon be able to get to Y-Not ourselves.
So why I am posting this, instead of driving down NOW?
Several reasons, which include..
- Many residents don’t have the feedback we do on their homes & businesses – and have been waiting anxiously to return. It will be chaos for a bit with just one road down and a backed-up check station. We’ll let them get there before we add to the traffic. We’re anxious to return of course, but we have no immediate actions we need to take to further protect Y-Not. We are already well ahead of so many.
- We’ve offered Y-Not up as temporary housing to the person who helped so much with getting word back to us – and we want to keep that available to him, as his home is in pretty bad shape.
- We have resources here in Melbourne, and can more effectively smartly provision before rushing down. Once more are on the ground, the needs will be much more apparent – and we can help bring in stuff.
- We’re hearing residency is being firmly enforced, and we want a little more confirmation we have everything we need to prove we were living on the boat in the Keys when we left – so we don’t get turned away.
- We need to find arrangements for Kiki – taking her down into the conditions reported would not be advisable. We are working that out now.
- We are two weeks behind on work already. Once we’re down there – connectivity, resources and time will be severely limited. So we’re going to use this time now to catch up and front load on work for our Mobile Internet Resource Center.
We still also have decisions to make, such as do we bring the bus down (plenty of parking at the marina, and Zephyr is fully self contained) to have as back-up housing, and able to offer others? (That’s a rhetorical question for ourselves that we’ll figure out.)
We don’t anticipate we’ll be sitting on our butts in sweet air conditioning for too long, and will likely be in the Keys by early to mid week.
And we are regularly coordinating with our friend Randy (marina manager) who is also waiting things out a few more days as he heads back to the area. His staff is already ahead of him, and we trust Y-Not has plenty of folks keeping an eye on her for us.
Keys Devastation – Please Support the Causes of your Choice
Don’t let our miracle fool you – the story is unfortuantely not the same for most of the Keys.
Only 60 of the 216 boats in the Boot Key Harbor mooring field are still on their balls – most are washed up into mangroves or onshore. Many boats around the area, even in our own marina, are stacked on top of each other. Many of those boats were the ONLY homes of fellow cruisers.
Houses and business are devastated, and many have lost everything.
We’re understandably having pings of survivor’s guilt with our own good fortune. And our wallets are already opening up to organizations gearing up to offer relief. Our time will be given up once we’re down there too.
We also encourage YOU to help out as you can and where you can. Whether that be donations or volunteering your own time. Chose the organizations and relief efforts that most call you, and please please please support them.
Once we’re down there, we’ll try to scope out who is doing what and report back on some specific organizations.
Thoughts and prayers are of course meaningful (and have gotten us this far), but what people need now are resources to rebuild. And there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done in Florida, the islands, Texas and fire struck areas out west.
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