Hurricane Jeanne Journal

Sept 27, 2004 -- Two of the editors of MedicineNet live in Florida, a state that has been struck by 4 hurricanes this season.  Hurricane Jeanne, the latest (and hopefully, the last) of the hurricanes, is now moving slowly up the East Coast.  About the only good thing that we can say about experiencing one hurricane after another is that it tends to keep everyone "up to speed."  Health and safety recommendations are repeated again and again.  Most people have made hurricane plans and stocked up on supplies.  Still, there have again been injuries and deaths associated with Hurricane Jeanne.

One of the problems with this latest storm is that many of our fellow Floridians are demoralized and don't have any energy left to deal with yet another hurricane.  Many who probably should have evacuated were already so tired and discouraged, they decided to stay put.

And for some people, hurricanes are proving to be a major spectator sport.  They flock to beaches being battered by enormous waves.  Not too far from us during the height of the hurricane, as electrical lines were falling, the police had to ask onlookers and rubberneckers to move away and get to safety.

This has been a very long weekend for us Floridians. Here are some of the entries from our Hurricane Jeanne journal starting from last Friday, Sept 24 and running up to today.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com

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Sept 24, 2004 -- Friday, 10:30 PM. Stay or go?  Because Hurricane Jeanne appears headed toward Florida and possibly toward Jacksonville, we expect to make a decision tomorrow (Saturday) or at latest the next morning (Sunday) whether to stay put or leave.   

There is considerable concern here in Jacksonville that Hurricane Jeanne could be as hard or harder on this area than any hurricane in the past 40 years so we are not taking the situation lightly. If we do evacuate, where should we go?  Do we go west on I-10, towards the area recently ravaged by Hurricane Ivan?  Or do we go north on I-95, also an area recently struck by hurricanes?  Our nerves are frayed.  We'll try to let you know daily what we are doing until this is past.

And so to bed.
 

Sept 25, 2004 -- Saturday, 10:00 AM.  We have decided to stay.  We are lucky to reach a contractor who is able to come this afternoon with another man to board up the windows of our house.  Since our house is two stories, it takes two men on two ladders to cover some of the windows.  Boarding up windows is not a job for fainthearted amateurs, especially when there is already some rain and wind.  Before Hurricane Frances, one of our neighbors was boarding up a ground floor window in his house.  He fell a few feet off a step ladder and broke his left arm.


 Sept 25, 2004 -- Saturday, 6:00 PM.  Well, it is now Saturday evening in Jacksonville.  The clock on the wall says that it is 6 PM although being completely boarded up this time, one wouldn't know for sure.  On the downside, it is claustrophobic with all the windows covered but on the positive side, it is not possible to look out a window and see the angry waves, the rising tide and the falling trees.

We have done just about everything we can do to be prepared for this latest hurricane.  We have a generator, power cords, jerry cans, gasoline, 2 ice chests, water, bags of ice, batteries, etc.  The cars are full of gas.  Our prescriptions are filled.  The dishes have been washed, the food cooked, the coffee ground, the clothes washed and ironed.  Plants and outdoor furniture have been brought inside.  There are clean sheets on our bed and clean towels in the bath.  We have money from the ATM (this is important because every one wants to be paid in cash).

For now, the power is still on.  After Hurricane Frances, we are not taking electricity for granted but have flashlights at the ready.  The worst of the storm is supposed to be over by 8 AM Monday morning.  We will keep you posted as to what tomorrow brings.
 

Sept 26, 2004 -- Sunday 4PM. Update. A very long day.  The electricity went on and off for several hours.  Proceeding on the assumption that we would lose power, we turned the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting.  We filled a new 50 gallon garbage can with clean water.


Sept 27, 2004 -- Monday morning aftermath.  We went to bed last night about 10 PM and spent the long, dark hours either asleep with terrible nightmares or awake listening to the howling wind, lashing rain and strange noises as things hit the house.  It turned out to be a good thing to have boarded up.

This morning we were up and out at about six.  We discovered that during the night the river had lapped at the garage door and actually gone under the house in places.  There was debris everywhere -- logs, railroad ties, lumber, pieces of boats, etc.  Our good neighbor Bob Holley came over and helped us carry the bigger stuff out of the driveway so we could get one car out of the garage and start up the generator in the driveway so we don't get carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Yes, the city power went off for good yesterday afternoon.  With the help of an electrician friend (who braved the storm to come over), the generator was set to power a few things -- the refrigerator, microwave and a couple of lights.  And it does! You can't imagine how good a hot cup of coffee can be.  And, we can use the toilets because we can power the sewer lift pump. 

Our current worry is the next high tide in about an hour and a half.  The wind has switched directions from last night (northeast to southwest) so perhaps it will now push against the tide.  We've removed the plywood from the sliding glass doors in the kitchen/family room so we can keep an eye on the rising water in case the water approaches the generator.

We are learning, like it or not, about the health concerns before, during, after a major storm.  First, everyone tends to be tired and stressed out so it is important to move slowly and think carefully about what one is doing.  One tends to accumulate a number of cuts and bruises -- from having to move things around, handle sheets of plywood to picking up all sorts of debris.  Have an adequate supply of bandaids and bandages.

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