I start writing this post while looking over the devastation after Hurricane Micheal gave us a direct hit here in Panama City Florida. That was the beginning of the rough patch after we had just moved here in May. Luckily, we had evacuated just as the storm started. As some saw on the news, we had very little warning that it was coming and even less to decide when it increased in size and speed to become a killer storm. I had just had a feeding tube surgically placed and was no longer in the hospital but my feeding pump would need to be charged daily, and all we had was a small generator. We knew that when it became a category 4, increasing to a category 5, it would leave us without power for at least 2 weeks. I had already been through a storm this size in 1998, during Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, SC and knew it would not be good. My husband has also been through his share of natural disasters. We left and stayed with my sister and her husband until power was restored.
Thanks to the power crews that came from all over the country, it was back up in 10 days. They were a blessing, working day and night, and living in tent cities. They even had to clear roads just to get their work done.
When we returned, we found our house to have taken little damage, other than the neighbors large castle playhouse on our back porch, taking the fence and railing with it, and the usual damaged roof and siding. Our house was livable, unlike so many. We were blessed. We had no gas stations, no grocery stores, no pharmacies. The GPS would take us to roads that no longer were passable but had no way to understand we needed to redirect around those roads. We were new enough to the area to not know how to get around and even the natives were confused at times.
We managed to find an open grocery store in the next town, clean out our refrigerator and freezers of all the rotten food and get supplies. Water had to be boiled before use but that was not too difficult. Water in bottles was being handed out all over town in cases, thanks to the generosity of people all over the country.
We started helping neighbors, my husband with a chain saw and I helped at the church food bank. We dragged limbs and picked up trash and debris. All around us was the zombie stare of people with every kind of problem imaginable.
Soon we ran out of our normal medications. One of mine is a Class 4 medication for a panic disorder. I cannot go without it. My doctor was both homeless and office-less at the time and nowhere to be found. The pop-up clinics could not fill any Class drugs with no history on the patient. I went from one to another trying to get help, but was only told “I don’t know what to tell you”. I was getting to my last few and it was getting scary. My husband thought of the VA. We are both veterans, and next to the VA is also a Navy clinic. The Navy clinic saw me and filled the prescription, one week at a time. They did not want to clean out the little pop up pharmacies, that were really semi trailers. But for the near future, that problem was under control.
My feeding tube had just been placed on August 31st and the tube still in was a temporary tube used for healing. It was made of rubber and tore. I went to the Emergency Room where it was originally placed to find that the hospital had been heavily damaged.
The surgeon could not replace it because the supply building was deemed contaminated and as you can see in the picture, there was nothing left to work with. The surgeon, his nurses, and I tried to hold the tube together with everything from tie wraps, to paper clips, but two days later I woke up in a pool of formula. Back to the Emergency room, but this time at the other hospital in town. They replaced with another temporary tube, which needs to be sewn to my stomach to hold it in place, while I am awake. I went into a seizure.
This was just our first two weeks home. We also noticed that the news covered it nationally for about two days, and once the fires in California started, we were forgotten. People started saying “that still hasn’t been cleaned up?”. In reality, this will take about 5-6 years to rebuild, and the trees will not grow back in my life time. And every day I was praying, asking for prayer from friends, and every day I felt like it only got worse.
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Next comes the identity theft…….And the thunder rolls.