Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ivan Aftermath 1

Tuesday morning we were up and at ‘em very early. We wanted to see what had happened to our island. We knew that there probably would not be too much damage since the winds never did increase to hurricane force. We totally forgot about the water damage.

As we set off for downtown in the Jeep, the waves and surf were still very high and scary. Not like the day before but still awe inspiring. There was debris and garbage all over the road, but nothing serious. About a mile from our house we encountered our first problem.

Just past the first little colonia, the road dips down and then up again before making a sharp left turn to get downtown. We followed the cars ahead of us but did not make it very far down the road . It was literally covered with rocks, boulders and assorted sea life. The size of these rocks that had been swept up and over the protective cliff to our right was incredible. No way we could get around them. So we turned around, very carefully, and headed back to another turn off to get through the colonia to downtown.

We saw an ever increasing amount of debris. Downed palm branches, brush and just plain garbage everywhere. Here and there were pieces of lumbar and other building materials. Nothing we could not navigate through or around though. There was water everywhere but it was mostly just big puddles until we hit the bay road leading into town.

What we call Bay Street, the street running the distance of the island on the bay (Cancun) side of the island, was totally flooded. The water extended from the bay all the way across the road. There was no telling where the ocean stopped and the island began. I carefully drove my way through this mess, watching for speed bump signs since they were not visible and I did not want to hit them at any speed. Not that I was traveling at a breakneck speed anyway. I never did get the Jeep out of second gear all the way to town. As we got closer to town, the water receded a little and people were driving on the sidewalk with their scooters. It was only about six inches deep on the sidewalks. At one point we looked to our left and saw a sailboat almost lying on its’ side on the beach. There was also a larger passenger ferry pushed up onto land.

Before this, we passed the high school. The whole cement block wall that ran along the street next to the basketball court was gone. Just smashed to pieces. Across the street is a vacant lot. It had become a graveyard for massive boulders washed up onto shore. The waves just ran across this lot and did not stop until they hit the wall across the street and knocked it down. When you consider that the three foot deep sea wall was breached and knocked over in places, I find it hard to believe that any structure could be built on this lot to withstand a real hurricane. (Note: Since then two houses have been built on this lot! We’ll see what the next big hurricane does to them!)

We swerved to avoid fallen tree limbs and brush and kept on going. We were headed downtown to pick up our friend to view the damage and then go check her car. She parks it very close to the bay and it was questionable as to what may have happened to it. The road to her house, which runs behind the military station and has the restaurant La Loma on it, was totally blocked off. The police were there directing us to go another way. We finally got to her house and she invited us to go out front and view the malecon from her perspective. She lives very, very close to the water. There is only about 10 feet of space that separates her back patio from the sea wall. The malecon was a mess. The paver stones were lying everywhere, tossed about like Lego tiles. Parts of the sea wall were leaning dangerously towards the water, looking for all the world like they were about to collapse. She reported that the night before she could hear the spray from the waves hitting her hurricane doors on the second floor! I certainly would have been out of there fast. Her second floor patio was a mess of seaweed and just junk, including miscellaneous shoes!

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