Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nicole's Visit

When some come to visit all is peaceful and when others come.......a different story! Our visitor this week....a different story. Less than peaceful, disruptive, not welcomed, major the island of Jamaica...devastating.

For a couple of months now, my favorite slot on tv has been the weather part of the news. Jamaicans around me were saying....Jamaica has been spared a hurricane since Ivan...we are due one. Not the kind of news one wants to hear but, nevertheless, probably the truth. The Caribbean Islands live in that realization. Just comes with the territory.

In 2008 we moved to Jamaica the night before Tropical Storm Gustav. We didn't have a place to go to, so we bunkered down in the Mandeville Hotel, skeletal staff, skeletal food, but with a generator we had water.We had a roof over our head, we were comfortable. It was a strange welcome. In that storm 18 were killed across the island.

When we got stir crazy we would try to venture out. Renee reminded me this week that during that storm I said to her, "this is the only time you will see the marketplace empty" usually you can't get through that area for the amount of people and chaos.

In 1985 we were itinerating on the Cape and Hurricane Gloria was upon us. I remember we were in a hotel waiting for our next missions service, which was probably in the next day or two. The manager of the hotel came on a speaker and said that we were going to be in the path of Gloria. I remember it so well because Denny and I were in the jacuzzi by the pool and under ominous skies the indoor pool and jacuzzi were packed. He looked at me and said, "WE ARE OUTA HERE!" We quickly rushed to the room, packed our belongings, checked out and booked it to Medfield!

That is the closest I ever want to be to a hurricane, that is for sure.

In May of this year I started collecting water in bottles. We lose our electricity enough without a storm and the lack of water is terrible. So in that way I was prepared for a storm should it come. Also soon after experiencing Gustav one of our first purchases here in the island was a generator. Thank God. We have used it so much with the electrical outages that we knew it would be worth all the money it took to get it. It is a necesity in the case of a hurricane.

Actually Nicole was revving up on Sunday past. It rained hard on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. On Wednesday when Nicole was directly overhead the Minister of Education closed the schools, so Renee and I were hanging out here in the house. Den left for the college at 7:30. This essentially was a "snow day" for Renee, so we had big plans without the snow! Have fun, do things that we normally can't do because of school and studies, which she does continually! Not to be, no time for games...about 9:00 in the morning floods came in the office and the tv room. We were moving furniture, mopping frantically and trying to figure out what was going on. At that time what would appear to be a wind sheer came through and that is when the tree landed on the roof. We called Den in a panic...get home quick. When he came home we went out in the rain and muck to see the damage at that point. It was unbelievable. I say unbelievable because the tropical storm actually left hurricane damage. I couldn't imagine what the low lying houses were experiencing.

We lost electricity at 9 in the morning and so we spent day 1 mopping. Every towel we owned was sopping wet. We were praying that it wouldn't get worse. We started using rolled newspapers in every window. It had gone from 2 rooms flooding to 5 rooms, and then the darkness came. It is hard to mop and towel when it is dark. Needless to say, Wednesday was a toughie. The homes in Jamaica do not have sealed windows. Every window is basically open to the outside elements and lizards! The water in the dining room though, was due to the ceiling leaking from the upstairs windows. You just couldn't keep ahead of the water coming in at that point. So no electricity, thunder and lightning, the noise of the generator, simple chaos I would call it!

The electricity did come on at 11:00 that night. Just in time to get the lights on to see if we had missed any pooling water to clean up! We went to bed until I heard major gusts and jumped out of bed to check the rooms again. That was at 1 a.m. It was a good thing I did. more water. It seemed like the storm was not going to end.

On Thursday we still had no electricity for most of the day and night and it continues to rain. Day 2 of the storm was much like day 1. Renee was worried about the books in her locker getting wet so we went for a drive to the school and on the drive we couldn't believe what we saw. The pictures of the church are very near to our house. We had to turn around and go a different route, even with an SUV it was unpassable.

Day 3 of the storm. The security guard at the school told us that there would not be any school till Monday so that took some pressure off. It is frustrating to learn if there is no school or not. There isn't a ticker tape going across the bottom of the screen with the names of school closures! There are no yellow school buses to indicate that there is school so to have that pressure off was a relief. Renee was really getting "snow days!" Of course the only thing related to snow is that we have worn sweat shirts since has been a little chilly, like 70 degrees! But for here that is chilly!

But on day 3 the men came to look at the tree laying on the roof and we were hoping to see a chain saw! Nope...just a man and his machete! Cool. It was raining so hard I felt for him. He kept coming under cover it was so torrential. I did go out and take his picture a few times! Here are a couple.

There is so much debris in the yard, here is the tree from the roof. Such a pretty tree. Our landlord tried to get here yesterday but had to turn around and go back for the flooding but today she made it. She was very sad to see all the trees down. This house was made to withstand hurricanes at the turn of the century, it is such shame that you cannot protect a yard.

Today is day 4. We lost electricity twice while I have been typing this blog. The clouds are very dark, the rain is continuing to fall. There is no dreadful lightning and thunder though. Thank you Jesus. The newspaper headlines are so sad. Thursday's paper-Killer Rains. Friday's headline-Death and Despair. Saturday's headline-More Bodies. It is so sad.

Thank you for praying for these precious people. Jamaica is not all about tourists. There are real people, people that live in shantys, with no running water even on normal days. There was a report of a man who was washed away when he went out to go to the bathroom. Sadness, Desperation, Trying Times for so many. When the storms come what do you do when you don't have material comforts?

Interesting side note! I started this blog this morning. It is now 5:00 in the afternoon and we just returned from our first experience at the hospital. Renee dislocated her knee at dance and while at the hospital the doctor told us that there were tornadoes during this storm. That now describes what it was. We thought wind sheer but when you see the path of destruction it took, it makes sense now to hear tornadoe. I thought when we left Springfield we would never have to go through those again....guess again Deborah!


  1. That was quite a "weatherlog" Debby! A "tropical storm" is in many respects a SLIGHTLY less intense hurricane, but they can still indeed to GREAT damage. It's also true that tornadoes are often spawned by hurricanes and tropical storms. Those pictures were really worth a thousand words! We had the remnants of Nicole in New England on Thursday and Friday...some strong winds and heavy rains, but NOTHING like that! Glad you "guys" are O.K. but your point about the people living in shanties is well taken. Incidentally, Gloria was in Sept. 1985 (not '86). In East Walpole at the time we had no electricity for almost a week.

  2. Wow Debby! I'm so glad you guys are all ok. I feel for the people of Jamaica, and of course my friends in Haiti who were hit hard as well.

    I still would love to come visit you guys some time. Won't be able to for a while now tho I guess...

  3. Thank you so much Bob for that date correction. Funny I typed in 1985 at first and then thought. no it couldn't have been and I guessed wrong! Without my journals here I am lost on my details! getting old I guess :)
    Amy, can't wait to see that lil punkin!