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From relatives in Florida (PAH)

Dave Yates (PAH)
Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
Randy and I escaped Orlando and are staying at Karen?s in Titusville. Her power was restored late Saturday afternoon. We have no electricity in Orlando and don?t know when we will get any. We are being asked to limit bathing because the main water treatment facilities are not up and running.

Randy and the kids had Friday off from work and school, but I had to work until 2PM. About 3 PM we saw a huge horizontal black swirl in the sky which was horrifying. It brought some torrential rain and wind. After about 20 min. things were calm until about 6PM when another band of wind and rain came which lasted about 20 min. It was very eerie after that as there was no wind, clear skies and we would have thought it bypassed us if we had not been watching the TV news. At 8PM we watched the opening of the Olympic Games, but at 8:45PM the power went out. The first bad band of wind and rain began about 20 min. later and we stayed in the hallway with our boy scout battery operated fans, portable radio, and hurricane lamps. We were pretty comfortable. With brief trips to the windows we could see tree branches being sucked straight up by the wind while they struggled to remain attached to their trunks. About midnight things were calm and neighbors gathered on the street to remove a large oak branch obstructing the street and to clear the street drains of tons of leaves so the street water could move into the sewer. After about half an hour the rain and wind began again and we went to bed.

Saturday morning we surveyed the neighborhood on bicycles. Our neighbor across the street has an oak branch through the roof into the living room. Every neighbor has a downed tree and the trees in our neighborhood are very large. We saw trees pulling on power lines, trees on cars, entire yards covered by trees. We were so lucky. I didn?t know the entire extent of the damage in our area until I got in my car and attempted to visit a friend. It was impossible to drive 2 blocks without having to find another route. Every single block in Orlando has a huge oak tree down on the street. Every single familiar route to church, school and store is impassible. AND every oak down has power lines down too. We live near an executive airport and 50 planes were tossed about like toys-upside down and on top of each other. The TG LEE dairy nearby had a tractor-trailer truck on its side. For a slide show of some of this go to www.orlandosentinel.com. I have never seen so many power lines down; they are lying in the streets, yards and on buildings. Billboards and awnings are trashed. No traffic lights are working in the city!! Many traffic lights are lying on the sidewalks. We saw part of an aluminum shed up in a tree!

I don?t know what next week will bring. School buses can?t possibly get kids to and from school. We can?t go to a friend?s to eat and bathe as everyone in the city is in the same boat. The heat is ridiculously muggy and a mild breeze is like a gift.

I tried to call friends around town most of Saturday using the house phone and only got a dial tone. My cell-phone kept saying ?call failed?. It seems we could get incoming calls for a while, but not for long. I couldn?t reach anyone for most of the day. Karen said she tried calling us and the phone just seem to ring like we weren?t home. I tried to reach her all day and just got a dial tone on my end. It is unbelievably frustrating to be hot, worried and without a phone all day long.

We are certainly thankful that we got through this unscathed. We are exhausted. We spent part of the day cleaning the front yard of debris and helping neighbors rake and carry limbs and branches. Our wooden privacy fence has several sections down and our downspout from the roof gutter is ripped off. These are such minor nuisances.

Please thank Lois for the phone call. I don?t have her e-mail address here at Karen?s. If you can get Tom?s e-mail address from my ?contingency? e-mail, please forward this to him. Thank you.

Love, Helen

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