I am going to start the Day 4 update with the golden words from dear Sharon, who eloquently writes: “…..the holding pattern for tens of thousands…..” “That’s just one thread in the word pictures presented by Sundance–a thread that is sort of a knothole in the fence…. and looking through it...
Hurricane Ian Recovery Update, Day 4
October 3, 2022 | Sundance
| 219 Comments
I am going to start the Day 4 update with the golden words from dear Sharon, who eloquently writes
“…..the holding pattern for tens of thousands…..”“That’s just one thread in the word pictures presented by Sundance–a thread that is sort of a knothole in the fence…. and looking through it, there are details to be seen….confusion, uncertainty, counting the cash in one’s pocket (again), checking (again) for any possible cell phone coverage, glancing over to the neighbor who hasn’t taken a break for several hours (perhaps for fear that if they sit down, they won’t be able to get back up again)…. men at work with chainsaws…. women returning to what remains of the house to dig through the kitchen or the bathroom cupboards in search of some more, still usable everyday things….
And, … this is an open-ended transition. Length uncertain. Ultimate destination uncertain. How to get there–mostly undetermined at this point.
In terms of individual lives, places to live, jobs/careers…. most of them probably don’t know for sure, yet, whether they are on an onramp or an offramp.
Sometimes I wonder if reaction to such events from a distance clouds the reality that those who are living it have no capacity to step away from it, not even for a moment. The lines on the field have been obliterated and none who are living this can be completely sure of how far away the goal line is.”
Perfectly and succinctly stated.
Day 4, is exactly like all day fours I have experienced before this one. The autonomic response starts to give way to adrenalin exhaustion and human batteries need to be recharged. Day four is also when internal callouses
For some a quick “stay focused on ‘the task at hand
‘” can suffice. For others it’s, ‘go home to your family – take a break – see you the day after tomorrow
When you build internal callouses you train yourself not to look at the miles, you look at the two to four feet in front of you. Look up and you will allow the whisper of despondency to creep in. Stay focused on the 2-to-4-foot task at hand and your brain remains wired in a manageable condition.
Steady, we fill that 20 or 40-yard container, then go eat. Reengage, clear the path, fill another 20-yard and then move… Always forward. If you start calculating the time it will take to clear and fill 4,768 40-yard containers the gremlins will whisper in your ear all day and wear you down.
Ignore the gremlins.
Instead, listen to the faces – hear their stories, then keep going to the next set of faces…. Always forward.
I should also mention that sunscreen is an essential hurricane supply. If you see the 30 or 50 block version, the thick stuff on sale, throw one in your battery box. If needed, slobber it all over yourself during morning coffee time and again early afternoon after chainsaw sharpening.
It has been a long time since I have seen so many east/west helicopter flights all day. The southwest Florida skies look like the air highways around Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I can only imagine what RSW airport looks like. Probably quite an ocean of helicopter aviation. The gremlin wants me to imagine lots of things related to seeing so many search and rescue missions ongoing this far after the event. I’m ignoring the whisper. Death toll at 76.
Warning in advance
– What follows below comes from my cracker
SWFL has a tremendous amount of unemployed ‘service workers
‘ right now. SWFL also needs a massive and organized
laundry operation. Hint to SWFL management, please put those two elements together. Thank you in advance.
” evacuations continue on the barrier islands. There is a considerable resistance effort underway from the ‘crackers
.’ Hint to SWFL management, if the resisting resident has a boat registered in the county (easy to check), then retreat from the severity of your effort. Again, thank you in advance.
On a practical note, I see the millionaire/billionaire boating class are being told they must remove their status yachts from a couple of major locations.
Having grown up in the region and remembering where the barges operated before the roads and bridges were built, I suspect we are going back to pre-1960’s municipal port operations as an interim action to supply the islands. This type of infrastructure repurposing makes sense, but a whole generation of the white wine spritzer tribe is big mad right now [insert cracker squinting smile here].
I mentioned on Day 2 the historic Sanibel lighthouse is still standing.
Since 1884, every twelve seconds the lighthouse beacon blinked twice, creating a sequence of four navigational alerts per minute. Ask me how I know that, and I will show you the clock of my childhood.
I learned how to read a sextant on the front porch of the Lightkeepers house. I traded Mr. Brennan 4 fresh trout from Dixie Beach flats for the lessons, there were two (one day and one night), on using a sextant. From that moment at the age of around ten, I was known as “Trout
” when I came back. It wasn’t funny.
Long before there was a ‘city glow’ on the eastern shore, the Sanibel beacon remained my waypoint in life. Twelve seconds, blink twice, four per minute. I spent tens of thousands of minutes with the comforting beacon at my six. I was always safe when I could see it and I never strayed beyond its reach.
My first bull shark took me for an almost 1,000 blink-long tour of the back bay inlet during a particularly memorable night.
I also ‘caught
‘ my first Silver King within reach of the beacon at sunrise. Recording the moment by removing (then laminating) the trophy scale which to this day sits in an old cigar box filled with buttons, wire, ribbons, weird metal bits and mysterious childhood treasures.
That particular morning was exceptionally memorable because I proclaimed myself a ‘king fisher
.’ Unfortunately, it was a short-lived moment of ego quickly deflated by an unusually furious mom – because I was going to be late for middle school. “King Fisher
” shouts I, dashing out the door, while hearing “fisher fool
” chasing my ear from behind.
The Calusa Indians were smart enough never to live on this particular narrow finger of barrier islands. Instead, they buried their dead out there
As I get older, I realize that many generations made the Calusa wise.
Love to all,
(left) Before Hurricane Ian – (right) After Hurricane Ian
Posted in Hurricane Ian
Fortunate is a word often accompanied with thankfulness; the complicated conversations always begin with both. We are blessed, fortunate and thankful. Personally, I have tried to avoid the complicated conversations, choosing instead to throw the starfish back into the water one at a time...
Hurricane Ian Recovery Update, Day 5
October 4, 2022 | Sundance
| 172 Comments
Fortunate is a word often accompanied with thankfulness; the complicated conversations always begin with both. We are blessed, fortunate and thankful. Personally, I have tried to avoid the complicated conversations, choosing instead to throw the starfish back into the water one at a time.
According to most, hurricane recovery and restoration is complicated business. They are likely correct; however, I do not see a broom, mop, screw gun or sandwich delivered as complicated business, so y’all are not going to read analytics of the complex from me. Instead, the focus is on seeing a person with a problem and tackling it in a way to make their situation just a little bit better.
I’ve watched ants move rocks because rocks needed to be moved. The task did not seem complex, the only variable seemed to be the number of ants needed. I doubt they used extras. The ants somehow knew exactly how many of them were needed for the task and modified their assembly based on the terrain. If you watch closely, the ants keep arriving until exactly the rock moving number of ants are on task – and they move the rock.
Perhaps it is a complicated process for ants to move rocks. Is there a boardroom of ants, with ant planning and zoning? Or does one ant just start pushing on the obstacle and the other ants join in. I think the latter is more likely.
Need gasoline, we can get it. Need the road cleared, we got that too. We can make a sandwich, deliver fuel, saw, sweep, mop, scrub, clean and/or make just that little space closer to the normal of memory. It is entirely possible to replace a missing downspout, and it is entirely possible to provide an uncomplicated ear to listen. Both tasks are equally important during recovery because both outcomes reduce burdens.
Day 5 finds more ants arriving in the western impact zone of Hurricane Ian. Here’s the rock
Right now, there are tens of thousands of unemployed service workers looking for wages.
We need an uncomplicated way to put hands-on tasks and move the rocks.
Vera, a woman, widow, great grandma and neighbor who may not have enough, but she'd give a stranger half - and they would never know.
Hurricane Ian Recovery, Day Six – Survivors vs Victims
October 4, 2022 | Sundance
| 261 Comments
Ms. Veronica, an incredibly wise and multigenerational counsellor of souls.
Ms. Veronica is a lady of impeccable generosity, identified not simply by the hospitality and greeting, but also by the few moments of grace deserved and afforded in polite request to make herself more ‘presentable
‘ for unexpected company.
Upon return, Ms Veronica immediately became Vera, a woman, widow, great grandma and neighbor who may not have enough, but she’d give a stranger half – and they would never know.
This is a powerful woman filled with a message. “Hurricane Ian did not create victims,
” she immediately captured my full and undivided attention. She continued, “I am not a victim
“There are dead people, and there are survivors
Long pause. The depth of her eyes, intense.
I am wise enough to notice moments when my prior opinion of self, strength and fortitude are immediately being redefined. I am also smart enough to stay silent.
“Our loving God does not create victims, and apparently he is not finished using me
.” Veronica’s eyes now alight. “In this moment I am filled with rejoicing
,” she said, “because I know there is a purpose I have yet to fulfill
.” From me, more smart silence. “How incredible is it for me at 90 to realize there’s more use, more purpose, and more time,”
Then, just as casual as one might order a familiar coffee on any ordinary Tuesday, Vera asked…. “How is it I can help you boys?
There are rare moments in life when we say the right thing. For me today was one of those moments. My reply was simply, “I think you just did
You know something, she’s right.
All the Mr. and Mrs. Veronica’s are not victims; none of us are. God doesn’t create victims – people do
How stark is the reality of hearing, “there are dead people, and there are survivors
If you are not in the former, none of us are, then we should rejoice and realize we have purpose yet unfulfilled.
♦ Scott from Fort Myers beach lost every worldly possession including his home. Scott is not a victim. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen Scott over several recovery efforts, and today I worked side-by-side with Scott for almost two hours before someone passing a water bottle told me he lost everything.
Eventually after the task at hand was accomplished, ear plugs removed, I asked Scott what he needed. His reply was simple, he didn’t know enough yet to be able to answer that question. Oddly, I think I understand. Scott needs to accomplish the two feet in front of him. Purpose within this moment, because his new normal is miles ahead. Yes, today I was the incredibly shrinking man.
Now the fun part of this…. Remember Veronica? When she said, “how is it I can help you boys
,” Scott was the plural, he was standing right beside me.
When we jumped in the back of the truck, he leaned over and said to me, there’s the answer to your question.
The message was big. Ms. Veronica was the vessel, and it was Scott -not me- who was the intended target.
♦ Cynthia (aka Cindy) and John are successful small business owners. They are as attached and committed to the Cape Coral, Florida, community as any young couple could be. After originally planning to ride out the storm, they changed their mind. Late last Tuesday they loaded their car with all their most important possessions and evacuated a few miles inland to stay with friends.
Cindy and John survived Hurricane Ian and returned late yesterday to survey their property and evaluate if they could start to rebuild. A massive power pole and tree blocked their driveway, but from the street it looked like the house was structurally okay. Nervously John and Cindy navigated the debris and went inside to check.
In the fifteen minutes they were inside their home, someone stole all their possessions from the car they parked on the street.
Cindy and John are victims
, that’s the difference.
Oh, and the guy who handed me the water bottle and told me about Scott’s loss…. That was John.
Today I learned again
that bearing witness
makes you small in comparison.
Love to all,
Posted in Hurricane Ian