Monday, March 12, 2018

NOW, March 12, 2018 Sideways rain and Hurricane flashbacks

Every year in December the trade winds start to blow harder. They're call the Christmas Winds. Christmas Winds can be quite strong during the day - 20 25, even 30 mph. They usually die off at night, only to return n the morning. They blow through the winter until about March, then back off to "normal" breezes.

This year the Christmas Winds seemed especially strong, regularly gusting over 40 mph, which by the way is in the "tropical storm" range. And they seemed to blow longer. day and night, with little reprieve.

When it rains hard in those winds, we get "sideways rain," rain blowing parallel to the ground. For a lot of people the wind and sideways rain induced "hurricane flashbacks" and real anxiety, real fear. For Elaine it was the sound of anything banging in the wind, a shutter, a door, a gate, anything.

In this post-hurricane aftermath,  we live with the myth, the illusion, of restored electricity. We've had electricity back for 40 days, It has gone off for at least part of 10 - 25% - of the 40 days. Yesterday power was off here for 15 hours. For some people this random loss of electricity, even for a few minutes, causes hurricane flashbacks and is a severe stress-inducer.

The rumors about water shut-offs and/or water rationing are back. The latest rumor is the water levels in Lake Guajataca are very low because we haven't had much rain since January. (Duh! This is supposed to be the dry season!) Just the rumors of no water are enough to send some people into a tizzy. 

For me it was last week's huge wave event.

We haven't had waves this big since Semana Santa (Holy Week), 2008. We could see the tops of the waves from out deck. This was in some ways my worst nightmare. The dunes and the beaches were already so badly damaged, so fragile. Water came over the dune at the end of the calle where we get to the beach.

The ocean breached the dune in three places, flooding the hay field across the street with sea water, killing the grass.

There was more damage to the dune in addition to the breaches. More trees along the edge are down, more of the dune is undercutting the trees that remain.

The ocean pushed water up the river and trapped it there. The road back to Villa Tropical et al flooded and stayed flooded for four days. Getting in and out was through three feet of salt water.

I didn't get to shoot any of the big wave surfing. We had people coming in to look at the property and all my time was spent either getting ready for their arrival and then meeting with them. Good news coming soon!

Maria log day 38 October 29, 2017, Sunday

Sunday, October 29 day 38

We haven't received any electric bills since August. That bill was due just about the time Maria hit.

I briefly got online at Carole's tonight intending to try to pay the due bill. I noticed that not only was there a bill but an estimated bill for September/October! There has been no electric since September 19th. The estimated bill is bigger than the previous actual bill even though electric use and availability was zero!

Da noive!

This is our 40th day without electric. Mostly I'm okay with it. There are annoyances - no refrigeration, no washing machine. We keep phones and things charged with an inverter from the truck battery and with Carole's generator in the evenings.

The one thing I am missing is my computer. I am jonesing for photography and to be able to use the computer to edit and store images. It would be nice to have stable reliable Internet access to post photos and theses log entries.

There is so much to do I really don't have time for photography and editing but that doesn't stop my soul from jonesing.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Maria log day 37 October 28, 2017, Saturday

Saturday, October 28, day 37

Today was a day of adventures, not all of them good.

The day started well. Elaine met Kiki and together they went to Aguada to rescue the horse, which they named Sprocket.

He's a sweet little guy, well mannered, good temperament. At least prior to the hurricane, somebody took pretty good care of him. When Elaine and Kiki got him he was dehydrated and malnourished but not seriously. We (I say "we" like I'm going to have something to do with it) should be able to get him healthy fairly quickly.

After they loaded Sprocket in the trailer, Kiki headed back to Isabela and Elaine headed to Rincon to teach riding. At some point she realized she left a camera back in Aguada after loading Sprocket so she ran back to look for it.

The car stopped. Quit. Dead. She called me. Fortunately I was in the only place on the planet I get phone signal. I was able to call our favorite tow-truck mechanic (it tells you something about our lives that we have a favorite tow-truck mechanic). He said he would go get her.

But - he got delayed and Elaine sat by the side of the road for nearly three hours. One of her students and her mother stopped to make sure Elaine was okay. She also said she'd try to find the camera.

Sitting by the side of the road, Elaine had cell signal so she called several people, including our daughter Amy. Among other things Amy told her that two good friends - our former kite teammates - were in a horrible car accident. Bob was killed and his wife Karen is in critical condition.

Rafy-the-tow-truck-mechanic finally got to Elaine and got her home. But it was a very difficult, ver emotional day.

(By the way, the car really is dead = blown head gasket. If we want to fix it, a car worth about $500 needs close to $1500 in repairs. Um-m, probably not.)

Meanwhile, Marie and I had our own much better adventures. After we fed the horses, Marie needed to go to the main Aguadilla post office but didn't know where it was or how to get there. So I took her roaming back roads to get there.

Since Crashboat Beach was (sort of) on the way home and none of us had seen it, we decided to have a look. Off on more back road rambles and OH. MY. GODDESS!

It's not that I didn't believe the people who told us about the damage to Crashboat, but it's one of those things that until you see it, until you experience it yourself, you can't really comprehend it.

All three of the remaining mooring platforms collapse. Half of the long pier broke off and is gone.

Before Maria: 

 More than 100 feet of the beach has either been washed out to sea or been pushed up on to what use to be the parking lot. All the palm trees are gone. The ocean comes almost to the where the boardwalk used to be at the edge of the parking lot. The boardwalk is gone.

So much beach washed away that the ocean laps at the little bar in front of the fish market.

 I hope the fishermen got their yolas  moved before the hurricane. There is no beach left where they used to "park" the boats. Before Maris:

I've seen a few photos from other divers of the wreckage under water. It is totally unreal. I really want to dive Crashboat, again to see it for myself. Marie and I talked about it but the visibility has been bad.

One bit of humor and beauty among all the wreckage: Someone collected signs and other useful debris and made a tiki hut.

For now the Crashboat we've know is no more. The area around the piers will be a great dive site - in a couple of years. As for what happens to the rest of Crashboat, like so many things, we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

NOW day 151 February 19, 2018, Monday

Monday, February 19, day 151

Today Elaine made the first trip up into the mountains either of us has taken since Maria. She went with a delivery team from Ciudad De Salvacion, delivering food and other supplies to the community of San Lorenzo in Morovis.

At the church they packed and loaded 150 boxes of food and other supplies, 15 generators and created and loaded 15 boxes of generator maintenance supplies plus cases and cases of water.


Once loaded, they headed for the mountains in a 10-vehicle convoy.

As they approached San Lorenzo, they had to cross a river. The road is actually closed because.the bridge washed out in the hurricane.

A new bridge is being built but it's still under construction.

So the convoy had to cross a ford.

When the water is high, there is no way across.

In San Lorenz the distribution was in a community basketball court (la cancha de baloncesto).

From San Lorenzo they moved on to Barrio Vaga and then Barrio Pasto before heading home after a long day.

While there is still obviously a lot of need, the good news is there is less need now than there was. The group did not give out all the food boxes they brought. That means food and other staples are getting through and available through other channels. They did leave the remaining supplies with a church in Barrio Pasto for distribution later.

This was their last trip into the mountains. They are changing their focus from supplying relief aid to helping people in the Isabela area rebuild their homes in kind of a Habitat for Humanity way.

Thank you to these amazing people for all their hard work keeping supplies moving to those who need them and for their continuing efforts to help those hardest hit by Maria. I cannot express enough how much we respect their work.

Elaine took most of the photos in this post.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maria log day 36 October 27, 2017, Friday

Friday, October 27, day 36

With only limited access to news, information, and communication, we tend to be isolated. Dealing with our own day-to-day lives, we tend to forget there is a bigger world out there. When we do get connected some things come as a surprise, like a major early-season snowstorm in the Upper Midwest.

This afternoon we took a couple of Stan Brock's RAM people to see the operation and meet the people at Ciudad de SalvacĂ­on. More than month after Hurricane Maria, the church's relief efforts are still in high gear.

Stan and the RAM folks are here to scout locations for temporary medical clinics. The church is setting up a medical clinic. Made sense to introduce them and see if they could work together.

What started out as a simple drop off donations/make introductions turned into an afternoon of meeting new people - like Marelsa , a psychologist who specializes in trauma cases (and whose family loves horses!) and her social worker husband - and many many long conversations.

The contact with Marelsa led to meeting Kiki who takes care of Marelsa's familiy's horses. That led to arrangements to meet on Saturday morning to go get the horse in Aguada.

Very late, much later then we planned, we dropped the RAM guys, one of whom was the pilot,  off at the airport to check on their airplane which had mysteriously moved and was not where they left it.

Then we had pizza a Carole and Rolf's.

(Update: the airplane was moved because in the heat of the day, the fuel expanded and was leaking on the tarmac. The pilot spent several hours taking around the airport burning off fuel. All is well now.)