On October 7, 2016 Hurricane Matthew hit our area. I will always remember when it hit since it happened on the 4 year anniversary of my mother’s death. Hurricane season in Florida is when meteorologists get excited and residents freak out for no reason. Usually the more dramatic they are on TV, the weaker the storm will be. With Matthew, they seemed very concerned and less excited…that’s when I started to get concerned.
I’ve been back to Florida for 11 years now (wow, that went by fast!) and I have never seen a hurricane like Matthew ride the coast of east Central Florida like it did. During the hurricanes of 2004, I was living in NJ, but my mom, dad and many friends experienced a three punch with Charlie, Frances and Jeanne which I was told was an awful time! Major damage, power outages for weeks and hot as hell since it was the middle of August!
When I lived here as a teenager and into my 20’s I experienced tropical storms, tornadoes and maybe a few low grade hurricanes in my area but nothing like what was about to hit us. It was scary and at one point they were predicting a Category 4 hitting the coast and not just grazing it. That would have been devastating to the area!
Two days before the storm, Ron and I decided to go to my dad’s house who lives 30 miles inland, plus Ron had to work cleaning up damage after the storm so it made sense. On the day before the storm, we packed our important papers, clothes, food and water in coolers, our baby Belle and left.
The feeling of leaving your house before a massive hurricane is upsetting and nerve racking. The fear of the unknown and if you will have a standing house when you come back makes you nauseous but it was the right thing to do as I would find out later from neighbors that it was awful to live through.
We rode the storm out at my father’s house and thankfully he didn’t have any damage and the power never went out! Unfortunately some of my friends who also live in the same town didn’t get so lucky. Some of them didn’t have power for almost 2 weeks! It was rough for them but they had minimal damage to their property which was a blessing!
When the storm finally subsided, the next day was the day that I had been dreading the whole time. Going to the house to assess the damage was going to be hard. While we were watching the news we saw that our area was definitely hit harder than where we were staying and the thoughts of what we COULD be going home to made my stomach ache.
When we arrived the first thing we noticed was…well… most of the trees that we once HAD in the backyard weren’t there anymore AND one of our biggest oak trees in the back had uprooted and fell in the lot next to us (thankfully there isn’t a house on one side of us or behind our property. It’s all trees and brush). We also noticed that instead of mostly shade in our backyard we had the mostly sun. Our jaws dropped at this gigantic root that was staring at us!
As we drove up the driveway we dashed out of Ron’s truck so fast I don’t think he even shut the car off! All we could think was, “Oh please let the damage be minimal to our house!” As we rushed to the door and went inside we scattered to every room like two roaches with the lights suddenly turned on. We checked every weak spot of our ceiling and windows….and….. NOTHING! We had absolutely no damage to our house! We didn’t have any power but that was to be expected considering a major Category 3 hurricane just blew through!
As we celebrated a win for our house, it was time to assess the backyard damage and if the garage was okay. As we got closer we realized that not only was there no damage but the root from the oak tree was about an inch away from ripping the side of the garage! It was a freaking miracle! I can’t explain it and I can’t explain the other tree branches from the other trees that SHOULD have fallen on our house. I don’t know HOW they didn’t! Someone was definitely watching out for us and we are very thankful!