We have been enjoying the very fall like temperatures here in north Georgia with a cooler than normal September. We have had several mornings with temps as low as 42 degrees! That is about to change soon, as we get ready to head to they Keys and the heat and humidity.
As I posted on the past few blogs, we have been trying to figure the status of the Fifth Wheel. Last winter we had it towed down as a permanent winter home in the Florida Keys. Irma made landfall (ground zero) as a Cat 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, right on our little island paradise of Cudjoe Key.
Most everyone in the Keys heeded the mandatory evacuation. A few people stayed, some even rode it out on boats. I can't imagine why anyone would want to ride out a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane on a small island in the Keys, but some surely did.
The hurricane knocked out all the power, cell service, sewer, water and of course communications. For days we have all been forming Facebook groups for each area with the goal of locating "missing" people who stayed, finding out how our property fared, and when we can go back. It has been a frantic search for information.
I was asked why we can't just call the owners of our community for the status. We are the "owners" and none of us know anything except the few people who stayed and they have no way to communicate. Most of the police and first responders even evacuated. This was a BIG deal for the Keys and people took it very, very seriously, as they should have. No one that knows anything has any way to notify anyone about damages or missing people. People are frantically trying to check on missing friends and family who stayed for the hurricane.
Something I didn't know but now assume it is available for any disaster like this, is that NOAA flies planes overhead filming the area of the disaster afterwards, giving people and governments information about damages. They filmed the entire 100 + miles of the Florida Keys, starting in Key West and all the way up to Key Largo. It took three days and of course, our section was last for some reason. There were many news teams coming in and filming areas. Cudjoe Key (the island) and Venture Out (our resort community) was filmed many times, but they never quite got to our house, so we really didn't know the status or our boat and fifth wheel.
Not knowing turned out to be very stressful. We spent hours each day perusing all the FB groups, news organizations looking for video, tv channels and word of mouth. I found a lot of info and pictures of Venture Out, just nothing definitive on our property.
Last night while on our nightly golf cart ride searching for bears, we found our answer and it wasn't good.
We initially had been sure the fifth wheel was completely destroyed, but then we started seeing pictures of rv's that were still standing and looked to be fine. It allowed us to get a bit of hope.
Here is the link for the NOAA after hurricane pictures. It really is kind of interesting
NOAA Florida Keys after Irma You click on the area in black, zoom and make sure it's set to Map Box Street under layers.
Here is what our lot and Rv looked like pre Irma
Here is what it looks like after Irma
The fifth wheel is in the middle, sitting at an angle. The problem with the location of our lot is that the only thing between us and the open water is a single row of high rises houses (on stilts) and an empty rv lot on the water. There was absolutely NO wind block. It was nice on those hot afternoons because we almost always had a wonderful breeze.
We store our boat at the Venture Out lot. We aren't even sure where the boat is from this photo. It looks like the storm surge moved them all around. There were some large boats here.
Last winter, we discovered the coolest place from the past. It was called Perky's Bat tower. We had no idea how old or what it was when we found it. After researching it, we discovered it was built in 1929 and was to house bats for mosquito control. The only problem is once released, the bats flew off never to be seen again.
Here is what it used to look like
You can see here how large it is
This is what is looks like now. You can see it toppled down. It's a shame.
So, now that we know for certain our Rv is a total loss, we need to decide what to do next. I reported the claim a few days ago and I'm sure the Catastrophe insurance adjusters are going to be arriving as soon as it's safe for them to enter the Keys.
They had to make sure the 46 or so bridges are safe, remove power lines, repair washed out roads (remember, these are a string of islands connected by roads so you want to make sure the roads are good) and attempt to restore water, sewage, electricity and cell service.
They are making progress but only allowing property owners and renters back into the upper Keys right now and curfews are being strictly enforced.
We think we should head to the Keys once we are allowed back in. There will be things from the Fifth Wheel and trailer, that hopefully we can salvage. It will not be a pleasant trip. It will be hot, we won't have a place to stay, hotels will be scarce, and supplies will be limited to what you can bring.
The good news is that at least some of the endangered Key Deer survived. Their food sources have been ravaged though and I saw a video in which they were definitely freaked out. This guy seems to be doing fine though, don't you think?