Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Weariness of Life in a Hurricane Prone Zone

Friday night, I awoke to the sound of rain coming through the laundry room ceiling into the coolers that my spouse set up as the crisis was evolving.  Because it happened soon after I fell asleep, I was useless--I am that kind of person who sleeps hard for 4 hours and then can't sleep well again. 

My experience with hurricanes has led me to expect that we will be discovering damage for months to come.  The thought of it exhausts me.

We spent yesterday going back and forth to Home Depot to get materials to try to patch the roof and to work on the swimming pool, which at the end of the hurricane looked murky and dark green, the kind of place where we would expect to see an alligator surfacing.

And then, this morning, the rains began, and the roof is not fixed, despite my spouse's efforts to patch it.  We will call a roofer tomorrow.

We are educable, after all.  After Hurricane Wilma, we had a leak that lasted for years while my spouse tried to fix it.  Finally, we called a roofer who was able to find the leak--amazing what one misplaced nail can do.  We ended up just having the roof replaced, since it was going to need it soon.

Now we have a flat roof.  It will be interesting to see what the roofer recommends.

We have been having many discussions in the wake of this storm.  I am worried about how our insurance rates may increase in the wake of the storm.  I expect that many of the insurance companies who recently began to insure in this state again will decide to pull out.  I expect that our rates may increase by 20-50% in the next year or two, and a 100% increase within 5-10 years will not surprise me.

When/if that happens, we will not be able to afford to stay here.  We might be able to absorb a 20% increase, but more than that makes our situation precarious.  We are both in the education field, not medicine, not law, not finance.  We can only take on so many more part-time classes, even if they are available.

The other thing that makes me tired is the knowledge that we could get all of this fixed, and in just a few weeks, be facing another storm.  We could have a storm every year--or we could go 12 years between storms.  If you lived in most parts of the US, you might suffer something like a tornado, and you could be mostly sure, statistically, that you wouldn't have to suffer that again.  With hurricanes, we can't.  If I knew I'd get this all cleaned up and fixed and then we'd be OK, that would be different than this sinking feeling that this could be my life for awhile, depending on wind and currents and storms coming off Africa and such.

This knowledge comes along with the knowledge of my aging body.  Yesterday, as we made our to-do list and our shopping list, my spouse said, "In my younger years, I'd have been halfway through this to-do list already."  We are not in our younger years.

In fact, some days I feel ready to pack it all up and head for the old folks' home--but the deaths during Hurricane Irma show that those places may not be safe either.

In the end, I remind myself that we are lucky to have the options that we do.  We have insurance, along with money in the bank so that we can make repairs.  We had part of a tree fall on our car this morning, two weeks after the storm, but I was able to drive out from under it.  We have electricity.  Our lives will get back to normal, and if normal becomes unsustainable, we can make other plans.

Many other people will not be so lucky.

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