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Digging Out from Hurricane Irma • Southern Rural Route

Down here in the Deep South, some of us have been spending the last month digging out from Hurricane Irma. The Mayor of Jacksonville has asked us to allow the City until November 8 (I think that was the date) to complete debris pickup with the “claw” trucks that are here from neighboring states. Debris is piled up in front of almost every yard. We are on our second pile from a huge limb that came down during the northeaster that followed Irma.

Bubba and Flip Flops’ house became the official Hurricane Refugee Camp on the Southern Rural Route where eight of us – family and friends – hunkered down for the worst.

Nancy and I slept in the dining room on what Bubba’s wife, Flip Flops, referred to as “roll-away beds.” Let me tell you, roll-away beds have become very futuristic.  You plug them into the wall switch and whoosh, instant blow-up mattress. I was in awe. I am not a “looker” when it comes to shopping so I’m usually ten years behind on modern conveniences. I was just as awed by the battery-operated lights and fans, both of which I will acquire before next year’s hurricane season.

My blow-up mattress looked fine until I crawled in. I quickly realized I had drawn the defective one. The long end slopped north to south. I tried hugging the higher north end but, eventually, gravity won. Yes, at some point during the darkest hours, while sound asleep, my blow-up mattress ejected me. I fell to the floor with a thundering crash that immediately had Nancy sitting up straight in her blow-up bed. Frankly, I don’t know how she did it because my blow-up was too limp for sitting.

Just as predicted by the weather experts, Irma came yowling into town around 2 a.m. According to Void, a local freebie magazine, average rainfall during Irma was 9.22 inches on top of an abnormally wet summer of 31.88 inches. The ground was saturated and Jacksonville experienced the worst flooding since Hurricane Dora in 1964. Only a hurricane in 1878 was worse than Dora and Irma.

Along with most of the City’s residents, we lost power. Jacksonville Electric Authority trucks rolled into our neighborhood four days later.  It was such a cause for celebration that most of the neighbors rolled up to the intersection in their golf carts to watch the linemen work. You should have seen us – three buggies lined up in a row. The only missing golf cart was Mr. Beekeeper’s but he’s still young enough to be a nine-to-fiver.

Other than yard debris and a few fence panels, we feel very blessed to have come through Hurricane Irma unscathed.

Irma created 4 widow-maker trees right over my mulch/dirt pile. One is deep in the woods. One came down during the northeaster and another is almost down.