With only L’s little penlight flashlight to guide us, we walked up the side of our house to the back gate. We could not get in the front door because it was still covered with a whole sheet of plywood. L shone his light around and we could see that the cactus garden in front of our cabana next door was in shambles. We expected that no matter what.
It did not look like the cabana had suffered any damage. There was no need to open the back gate because it was no longer there! We discovered it lying on the back patio where it had evidently been blown. We entered the back patio area and could see it had taken a bruising. Branches from the two palm trees, as well as coconuts, were lying about. Trash was everywhere, having been blown in from who knows where. Including flip flops! (this is always a big mystery after any storm. Where do all these single shoes come from? There are usually hundreds of them washed up on the beach.) The walls, in the little light we had, looked like they were covered with hair. The next morning we discovered this was palm strings and pieces of people’s straw houses that had imbedded in the wall. We didn’t dawdle long because we wanted to get inside. I fished the keys out of my backpack and we opened the door. No easy feat. Even though the backdoor is very protected and is on the west side of the house, away from direct hurricane winds, it was difficult to get open. It had swollen and took a mighty shove to get it open. Although it appeared that nothing was broken or damaged, the house was still a mess.
The winds had forced water around the sides of the plywood protecting the front door and windows and the floors were a dirty mess. Everything was covered with a sticky, slippery salty residue from the ocean spray that made its’ way in. Although there was no water to be seen, we could see the marks on the floor where it had spread. I was sure glad we had not been there. I would have freaked out uncontrollably had I seen water coming into the house. I would have been sure that the sea had risen right to our doorstep and was about to fill the house and drown us! I later learned that it had not even crossed the road in front of our house so there was no danger of drowning. It was just all the spray that blew in around the windows that caused the puddling on the floor. But locked up in the house, with no windows to look out of, I would not have known that. And no way I could stick my head out to take a quick peek at the ocean. That is what I worry about most…the sea rising up and covering us.
During Gilbert in 1988, a Cat 5 storm, the waves did crash as far up as the hill behind us. Scary stuff.We lit all the candles we could find, since there was no electricity, and grabbed more flashlights. I got the power battery drill out and we set about taking down some of the plywood so we could get some fresh air in the house. The smell inside was incredible. That done, we decided that there was not much more we could do tonight as far as clean up goes. We took the furniture off the beds where it had been placed to get it away from any water, made them up and collapsed. Finally, safely home in our own beds. Even though we knew we had some hard work ahead, we were just so thankful to be safely home and that we had not suffered much damage. I don’t think I even dreamt that night. I just fell into a heavy sleep and was glad for it. I had not slept well at all while we were away.