Friday, September 23, 2016

Hurricane Earl

This past August, Moonracer Farm endured its second hurricane since we moved there in the beginning of 2007.  In October of 2010, Hurricane Richard wreaked havoc on the Cayo District and other parts of Belize, and in August 2016, Hurricane Earl added his impact.

Wet hens!
Both went over us as Category 1 storms.  While Richard did more damage to the rest of Belize, Earl seemed to do more damage to the Cayo District, although we were incredibly fortunate in that while we had a lot of downed trees and limbs, we did not have any damage to property.  The horses and chickens were cold and wet and annoyed the morning after Earl passed us, but by midday they had dried off and warmed up and seemed to be pretty much back to normal.

We spent a lot of time cleaning up over the next few weeks, and it is going to take years for the jungle around us to fully recover, but overall we won't have any long term effects.  Not everybody was so lucky, and the floods after the hurricane did more damage than the hurricane itself to those in low lying areas such as San Ignacio, which was flooded over the market and into the park in the days following the storm.  It makes us glad to be hill dwellers!

We had a lot of warning that the we were potentially
in the storm's track.
The horses all had to wear halters with tags with our
name and number written on them with a Sharpie.  
We feel fortunate to be living in a hurricane zone in this day and age where weather can be predicted days if not weeks in advance.  Everybody knew Earl was on his way a good three or four days ahead of time, and while you always hope you're not in the bull's eye, you need to get ready as though you will be, and that's what we did.  We stowed anything that could blow around, we put halters with name tags and our phone number on the horses, we parked the vehicles in protected spots, we made sure anything breakable in our open kitchen (including our glass tabletop) was stored in a safe place, we took the solar panels off the roof, moved things away from the walls in our house, and did what seemed to turn into a never ending list of things to reduce damage if we got hit.

In the afternoon, we were hopeful that it was
changing direction and would pass north of us.

Because we have internet, we spent the afternoon before Earl hit keeping the village council up to date on what the storm was doing so they could get people to hurricane shelters if necessary, and make sure the village was as battened down as possible.  They stopped by in the early evening, and we made sure we had everybody's phone numbers so we could keep them posted as long as we had internet and phones.  Then, we ate dinner, and went in our closed up house to wait for the winds to start.

Right before we went to bed, Earl was just off the coast of Belize.

We went to bed around 10:15, and it was just starting to get windy.  The storm was still a ways off the coast.  We actually slept, until around 4AM, when it sounded like a train was going by and everything was crashing and banging.

When we woke up to lots of noise a little after 4AM,
we found that Earl came much closer to us than had been
 predicted earlier in the day.
It sounded like a hurricane was going overhead, which we found out it was when we got on line and against all odds found that we still had internet and could see exactly where the storm was.  It wasn't right overhead, but it was close enough that we had hurricane force winds twisting the tops out of trees.  We messaged with a few friends who were doing the same thing we were, and waited for it to get light.

The view from our door when we first went outside.
 It's too bad we can't display the smell of lots of freshly broken wood.
At first light, we went outside and found that despite all the trees and leaves and branches, everything was basically okay.

A near miss for the satellite dish!
The satellite had taken a near miss, but continued to work throughout the storm.

The kitchen was a wet mess, but no damage.
It needed a deep cleaning anyway.  ;)
My kitchen was soaking wet and it was still blowing, but I used my body to shield the burner from the wind and made a pot of coffee to take to our guest, and to make sure she had made it through the night.  She had done basically the same thing as we did, sleeping until it got really loud around 4AM.

Leaf litter was plastered to everything.  Leaves had just been shredded.
Around 7AM, a crew of guys from the village, including the village council members who had been monitoring the storm, showed up and cleared the driveway and enough paths that we could get around on the property...and then took our chainsaw to go get other people out and make sure everybody in the village was okay.  They were; only one house had lost its roof, and nobody was hurt.  It was very much like Upstate New York after a blizzard:  everybody with the equipment to manage the emergency banded together and did what had to be done to get things back on track.

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