Monday, September 24, 2018

NOW, September 22, 3018

I wanted to see what Crashboat looked like a year after the hurricane. So, I dove there on Saturday, a year and a day after Maria.

I'm pleased to say fish were abundant, which means they are finding food on the ruins. Little things - tubeworms, sponges, little bits of coral are starting to grow on the wreckage. Watching the underwater renew itself is going to be one of the best things over the next couple of years.

We're supposed to have waves for the next week or more so there won't be any diving for a few days. More Maria log posts to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

NOW and then, September 20

One year ago last night the lights went out. For us the lights didn't come back on for five months. Other people waited much longer.

One year ago today we hunkered down in a friend's concrete house, listening to the wind and the rain, no news, no contact with anyone outside our little box, not knowing what was coming or what to expect, but safe and together.

Today, now, it's calm, in fact, no wind at all. It's cloudy and might rain later, but that's kind of the way every day is this time of year. There are no tropical storms or hurricanes on the immediate horizon.

I am surprised at how emotional last night and this morning are, not just for me but apparently for many of us given the posts and comments others are making. But it's a very strange, odd emotionality (if that's even a word). I feel totally connected to the moment, to those around me who went through Maria whether they are right next to me or far away. At the same time I feel disconnected, like I'm watching from outside my body or watching a movie of myself. The calm is almost eerie, as unnatural in it's own way as the hurricane was. Yesterday was exactly the same kind of day but it didn't feel strange yesterday, only today.

As I've said before, the effects of those 30 hours a year ago are still with us. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

NOW September 17, 2018

Whew! You probably heard about that little storm--Hurricane Florence--that hit the East Coast this week. If you're far away from it, be grateful. If you're anywhere near Florence, our hearts go out to you. (Meanwhile, the Twit-in-chief can only rant that the nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria are a political ploy by Democrats to make him look bad. As if he needed their help!)

A good friend of ours moved back to the States with her family after Maria. Part of the reason was her school-age son. But partly she--like many others--had a difficult time with the devastation and slow recovery after the storm. After things settled down (I won't use the phrase "returned to normal"), they came back. But things here on the island still weren't the same. It still wasn't "normal." she and here husband decided to move back to the States permanently.

They settled in. They just bought a house, just--as in two weeks ago, in North Carolina, near (but not on) the coast. And Florence hit.

Florence was not as devastating as Maria. It wasn't as powerful to begin with and diminished as it approached the coast. Still, the wind was near 100 mph. And the rain! And rain and rain and rain. Our friends apparently didn't loose electric, or if they did it was only for a short time, because she was able to keep posting updates on Facebook.

You could tell from her posts, both in what she wrote and reading between the lines, how incredibly stressful this was for her.

Folks, PTSD is real! And it sucks! And it is not reserved for combat veterans or police. No one who goes through something like Maria comes out unchanged. I wrote about this a bit earlier: different things set off different reactions in people. For Elaine, it's anytime there is a constant, persistent banging noise. It takes her right back to that night, listening to the wind and the banging of that piece of roofing against the door of the house where we stayed. She zones out and it takes a little time for her to come back.

I can only imagine what living through that--again--was like for our friends.  And for people on the other islands: first they got hit by Hurricane Irma. Before they had time to process that, Maria hit less than two weeks later. How do you deal with that?

It is almost exactly one year later. We are still feeling and dealing with the effects of Hurricane Maria.