Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hurricane Ivan - Part 4

We had breakfast at Jammin’ and talked to Alex, the owner. He is a sensible man, not an alarmist and usually knows what is going on on the island. He told us to worry and get ready. The police had ordered that all non-residents who could, should leave the island that day. This is a major event since the economy here depends upon the tourist trade. No tourists on the island means no money for the businesses. He was planning on closing the restaurant at noon and boarding it up. Then he was going to try to save what he could at his house since he lives in a very low area in the center of the island. When we get a lot of rain, the lake there floods since there is no outlet and people get swamped. He knew from experience what hurricane rains would do to his house.

We finished breakfast and headed for home. We went out to the main street that runs along the bay. Even before we got there, we encountered the line up of cars for the only gas station on the island. The line extended around the corner past Jax bar and almost to the cemetery. People were quickly starting to panic. I had just filled the Jeep on Wednesday in Cancun and was glad of it. Besides, I had no immediate plans to drive anywhere, unless we left the island. I could go quite far on a full tank of gas and could refill on the mainland. As we traveled further south towards home, we saw people on scooters with empty water bottles, looking for a place to buy water. By noon, there was no place on the island left to buy water. Thankfully, the last car ferry of the day to the island brought over a semi truck filled with water so that people were able to get what they needed.

Mateo finally showed up about 6:00pm Sunday night to cover the windows. Staying in the main house was not an option for us. It was still being remodeled and the problem there is that the bathroom is totally torn apart No sink, no toilet. Mateo did not think that it was a good idea that we stay in the cabana, where we were currently living. This is a one room cabin that we own next door to our main house. He thought it was too low, should we take a direct hit out of the east from the sea. I heartily agreed. We finally decided that the safest place would be the north bedroom upstairs. There is only one window to the east and this was protected by plywood. Since it is located on the second floor, it is quite high above the water.
our house then was this big unpainted cement box. We stayed in the room on the right upstairs

Mateo, whom we think is a saint because of the work he does for the poor people here, mentioned that he had not had time to get any water, since he had been working since early morning, helping people to cover doors and windows. We had four bottles of water, more than enough for the two of us. We offered one of them to Mateo and he thankfully accepted it. After he left, we spent the rest of the evening moving what we could to our little sanctuary. We put the bed in the cabana on cement blocks, covered the whole mattress with plastic and piled all the furniture on top of that. Not much more we could do there.

There was not much we could do in the main house to prepare it. We covered the front window with wood. Since most of our belongings were already stored in the two bedrooms, there was not much to do. We put what we could on higher shelves and, with a felling of despair that were going to loose everything anyway, shut the doors and didn’t look back.

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