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Hurricane Maria

What Rules the World

Today’s goal was to find a working ATM. In a non-third world country this would be easy. As the days continue to go by I realize that Puerto Rico now is actually worse than a third world country. We have no Cellphone Service, No Radio, No TV, No power, No water, no security, and no food. We (Jenn, me, Liam and Madison) left Rincon at 11:30 and headed towards Ponce. We figured this won’t be so hard as that area wasn’t hurt that bad by Hurricane Maria. Big mistake!

We drove to every town in between Rincon and Ponce to no avail. We stopped at grocery stores, shopping centers, banks and anything that could possibly have an ATM. We put over 100 fun filled miles on our car and burned over a half a tank fuel, but in the end we prevailed. We stopped at the San German Hospital and by chance an armored truck was there. He was refilling the ATM in the emergency room. We jumped out of the car with great joy. Can you imagine? It was like an old Beatles movie when they all jumped out of a car at stoplight (Chinese fire drill).

We only had to wait for 1 hour to get $100 out of our account. They limit the amount you can get out so everyone will be able to at least get some money out. Let me tell you something. One hundred dollars goes a long way when there are no restaurants open or grocery stores with anything to sell. All stores shelves are completely bare. It honestly doesn’t feel real anymore.

The basic fundamentals of life are in jeopardy, safety and health. As we drove home with one item completed for the day we all said, it could be worse. Really? How? Then the car went dead silent. I really believe the lack of internet is probably the hardest thing on the kids. For me it’s just finding the basic essentials to survive another day.

We arrived home ate some canned food thing and all slipped off to sleep. I of course took first shift on the roof. All is good, all are safe. BTW: around 1:00 am I gave up and went down stairs to sleep in my own bed.

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Hurricane Maria

The Days Following Maria – The Devastation Continues

Day 8: Tuesday, 9-26-17

The saga continues. No phone service, no internet, no cable, no power, no water, no fuel and no contact with the outside world. I still had no idea what to do with the post office. Our main goal for the day was to get fuel. It’s funny how something so easy and change overnight. Liam convinced us to drive to the marina as the marina was supposed to supply fuel to its marina slip holders. We thought this is perfect. Let’s head out.

While at the marina we took a small boat tour of all the other damaged boats. We saw a 48-foot Jeanneau completely destroyed in the mangroves. We had just met the owners the week before. They bought the boat a few months earlier and actually hadn’t really sailed anywhere yet. They paid over $180,000 and did not have insurance. We met another owner that sailed his Ameal 54 south 300 miles to get out of the path of this hurricane. The owner of the marina told me he might close. He lost 70% of his boats during this storm. The marina has room for about 75 boats with a normal vacancy rate of 10-15%. We tried to get gas at the marina but the gas pump didn’t work so we headed home after a cold shower at the marina.

On the way home we found out that Claro cellphone service was up and running. I couldn’t believe it. More good news. It turns out that once the cell tower received fuel for its generator, thieves broke into that tower and stole the diesel fuel out of that generator. Now Claro cell service is out as quick as it came online. We are now hearing about car jacking’s, robberies, break-ins. We have also heard that people have been caught drilling holes in automobiles fuel tanks and draining the fuel out. This is crazy.

I forgot to mention that “Ley Seca” is also in affect. This is a law that eliminates the sale of alcohol during a time of stress. No one can get Beer, wine or mojitos. Not sure the timing for that law is good right now.

Day 9: Finally, its Wednesday, 9-27-17

Everything is back to normal.

Just kidding it got worse. All banks are closed and ATM’s have been turned off completely due to theft. Marshall Law is in effect after 7:00 pm every night. Marshall Law is no longer enforced by the local police. The National Guard took it over and will be enforcing that now. I believe the fine for being out past 7:00 pm is $200 and a nice trip to jail. All diesel fuel has been commandeered by the feds and cannot be sold to the public. On a positive note, I didn’t have to work again today and I found a fresh water well only a few houses away. Yeah, we have water now. We just have to carry it back and forth.

We also cleared out the room upstairs. The water damage was so worse than we thought. We had to throw out so much stuff. It is so sad to see memories, photographs and keep sacks ruined. Around 6:30 am I went to the post office again. No news and all gates are still secured but today something from the Postal Service was placed on my gate at the Rincon Post Office. It said all Postal Employees must call a 1-800 # daily if they cannot report to work due to circumstances related to the hurricane. Really, did someone forget the phones don’t work? (No cellphones, no land lines, WTF!) Jezzzzzzzzzz, I can come up with a few more words that better describe that note on the gate but I won’t. That was so disappointing to see that. That was the only message we received since before the hurricane.

It was reported that people are drilling holes in gas tanks and draining all the fuel out of parked cars. We actually saw someone doing this to a car at a repair shop. It could have been his car but I doubt it. All fuel sales and alcohol sales have been halted for the next two weeks. I think it is just a matter of time before the population revolts. I write todays info sitting on my roof protecting the house and cars from possible intruders. What I would do to have a gun right now rather than my kitchen knife.. I’m probably a little paranoid but since Marshall Law went into effect it has been a very different Puerto Rico.

I stayed awake until 3:00 am when the last walkers past the house with flashlights. It might be a good time to be paranoid.

Day 10: Finding Fuel

We all woke around 5:00 AM. And made breakfast and headed off to find gas and water. We drove past the post office and saw no new movement. All communication is still down. We headed down to the marina as there was a rumor we could fill up the car and some gas cans there. On the way down there we saw multiple cars parked along the highway. Ok, it’s more like miles of cars lined up waiting for gas stations to open. It turns out everyone is running out of gas waiting in line. Some people wait for 10 hours just to get $20 worth of fuel or when they get to the pump it runs out of fuel. We arrived at the marina at 8:00 am and filed up five (5) gallon cans and the car. The owner of the marina said for us not to tell anyone because the marina sells fuel at a different rate than gas stations and he could get into a lot of trouble. He also said he is only doing this for marina slip holders. Before we knew it he was sold out. One item is now checked off our list.

We ended up using almost all of the remaining cash for gas. We hope that the ATM’s would be working soon. Rumor is next Monday? It’s the little things that matter, right? We were so happy to have fuel and be able to accomplish at least one thing today. We stayed for a bit and worked on the boat. The marina looks like a ghost town. We are one of ten boats in the entire marina. The lock boxes at each dock and the shore power boxes are gone. The storm cleaned the dock completely off. When you look around the harbor the mangroves are still full of boats; upside down, on top of trees, on top of other boats. It is a mess. The looters have already started stripping boats. In some cases when they couldn’t get in so they used chain saws to get in and take the motors out. They cut the deck off our friends Jenneau. That boat could have been saved, but not now. If the owners had access to cash, they could have paid off some the fisherman to help move the boats out of the mangroves but all banks and ATM’s are closed. This just made it appear that all the boats were abandoned. It is very sad.

Our boat is safe in the marina with the security of armed guards. It would have been a good place to stay if the marina had power, water or any other services. Everything is gone. So off we went again, trying to be as positive as possible. Liam’s school passed the word around that they needed help at the school to clean up the debris and cut tree limbs. We dropped him off and headed out to find a tarp to cover the holes in the roof. Normally, that would be an easy task but all the stores are closed, all the banks are closed and all the bars are closed. I understand two of those would not have tarps but it is nice to have options. Plus, a mojito would be nice since we have gone through so much.

We found a tarp at a local corner store called a Ferreteria. I probably spelled that wrong. They have virtually everything you need behind the counters. You don’t get to walk around. You just have to ask (En Espanól). I think tarps are normally pretty cheap but they charged $25 each for a $5.00 tarp. I guess it’s the supply and demand thing again. We then went home and installed the gold plated tarp. I am a little afraid of heights so I really didn’t enjoy that. After that it rained and I mean rained.

I quickly took all my clothes off and stood under a rain gutter with a bar of soap. It was an amazing shower. I stood under that rain gutter for at least an hour. Before long Madison limped out in her undies and found her own rain gutter. We looked so silly. The neighbors started to cheer as they had never seen us act like that. We felt so relieved and relaxed. It was a great mid-day break. After that we filled up a 20 milk jugs with rain water. We use the rain water/gray water to flush toilets. I then decided to reroute the cistern/extra water supply. Apparently, the water softener needs power to allow water to follow down from the roof. We don’t have power now or for the near future. I cut the water lines and bypassed the water softener. We only have about 200 gallons of water on the roof so we need to be extra careful with that. After that I drove to a natural spring and collected 10 gallons of fresh drinking water. I finally sat down and realized I better check the refrigerator. Last night it just didn’t seem cold. So I defrosted the fridge and cleaned it out. I then plugged it back in and turned on the generator. I was told if you don’t open the fridge it is fine to only plug it in for three hours a day. So as the captain of this roofless ship I instructed everyone to leave the fridge alone.

We have had some problems with this fridge before. We all went to bed around 9:00 PM. Liam and I, are standing guard overlooking the cars from the roof. We both made small beds on separate sides of the roof. We heard that several of our friends have already started doing the same thing. They use the car alarms when someone gets close to the house at night. We have both big dogs sleeping next to the cars in the front fenced in area and us right above them on the roof. Overall, it was another great day in paradise and we accomplished a few things too, except for my mojito. “Ley Seca” is still being enforced. Which basically means no MOJITOS! DAMN IT!

Day 11: The Post Office

I finally fell asleep on the roof overlooking the cars around 2:00 AM. We had moved the Audi and the Solara inside the fence last night as they were the only cars that had gas left in them. We also put the dogs in the front yard all night. Liam’s Infiniti was outside the gate. All night long we had strangers walking up and down the street in front of the house. They had flashlights and were shining them all over the place. It was very frustrating. I didn’t know who they were or where they were from. They were probably bored teenagers but I couldn’t take any chances. I will admit fatigue is starting to set in. I am exhausted and frustrated.

At 6:00 AM Liam headed to Mayaguez to get his car filled with fuel. We have a friend that has a friend that owns a gas station. I hope that works out. He is supposed to help clean the school again today and on Monday the school is supposed to be opened again. The school told us yesterday that they have over 3000 gallons of water but no power. They can have school without power so they are going to start next week regardless. The only issue with that is getting fuel to go back and forth daily. And the lack of access to cash to get fuel. I hope things start working soon. We have not seen the National Guard yet. Which concerns me as it was announced that the local police will not patrol the streets at night due to Marshall Law. I think it is time to get a gun. Right now I only have a spear gun which is useless for anything larger than a lobster or small fish. I don’t think they will try to break in and steal fish, do you? Anyway, todays plan is too wash clothes, check out the post office find access to cash and get some food. We finished the last of the freezer/refrigerator food yesterday. The fridge is broken now so I guess we will be doing canned food if we can find some.

On our journey we found a friend with a Sat Phone. He offered to let me use it. I called my dad again to let him know how bad things were getting. We talked for several minutes until we got cut off. As today progressed we did not find cash, or get the clothes washed. We did however go to Aguadilla. I was told by a random truck driver to report to the Aguada Post Office. We drove over there to find that facility under two/three feet of mud. They claim it is sewage not mud but either way it is pretty gross! No one was working there so we drove up to the Aguadilla Post Office. The closer we got it was clear that the troops were coming. We saw Red Cross trucks, National Guard trucks and FEMA trucks. It was a relief to see movement and immobilization of emergency support. They have not made it to Rincon yet but I am confident they will be in the Rincon area by Monday. The Rincon Post Office should be partially operational on Monday. We will not have power but we will be open to hand out parcels. At least that is the plan.

Anyway, as we were driving back to Rincon we saw so much more devastation in Aguadilla than Rincon. It was far worse up there. The entire ocean front park was gone. The ocean front 15 story police station building was missing almost all the windows. The Ice Skating Rink was destroyed. Yes, we have the only ice skating rink in the Caribbean. It was kind of cool. All the streets in and out of the beach front area were unpassable. Photos can never actually describe the scene.

We returned home around 5:00 PM and made dinner. It was one of the fanciest dinners we have made so far. Rice, green olives, onions and hotdogs all mixed together. It doesn’t sound that good but with a little soy sauce it was great. Liam came home shortly after and finished off all the remaining rice mixture and we all headed off to bed around 8:00 PM.

Before going to bed I asked if anyone else had been having nightmares lately. I mean nightmares you remember when you wake up or that wake you up. They all have been experiencing the same thing. I won’t share what my dreams are about but I will say it scared me enough to wake me up. I hope tonight is better. I mean no nightmares or midnight walkers. I am still perched above the cars on the roof with the dogs below. I hope I can fall fast asleep and have happy dreams.

Day 12: September 30th, 2017, 2:30 AM

It was a quiet night no street walkers, it was kind of strange. I can the see the glow of lights over Mayaguez and Aguadilla again. It appears both towns are starting to get power. It is still possible to see the milky way and all the stars. They are so bright it lights our upper deck. All night long the wind has been blowing at 15 mph allowing all the lose roof tiles to smack around. It was actually a cold night in the 70’s. The dogs continue to bark at nothing driving my paranoia. The smells are becoming more and more intense. The garbage cans all over are overflowing with rotting food. The dead animals are starting to smell. We noticed that the insects are in greater abundance. I think this is due to the lack of birds. The skies are empty of birds. Every morning I used to have a wood pecker that would land on the hand rail and stare at himself in the reflection of the glass window. He was kind of vain. We haven’t seen him since the hurricane. The hurricane either scared all the birds away or the worse killed the birds. I hope we start to start to see some progress today. It’s been a long two weeks. Found Wifi YEAH!!!!!

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Radio Silence

As it is only day five and we have still have no water, power, internet or phone service. The rest of the world as far as we know it thinks we are all dead. I haven’t spoken to anyone from work in five days. All communication is completely down. We cannot get any reliable info from anyone. All TV stations, AM stations and FM stations are off air, even when I hail the Coast Guard on the VHF radio I receive no response. It truly is radio silence. I can’t remember feeling so helpless.

We went to the store and picked up some extra cleaning supplies and some groceries. We also saw several friends.

Saturday, 9-23-17

The days continue to go by we struggle daily for water, food and gas. Each has its importance as one effects the other. We cannot get food and water without fuel. If you want fuel you need to wait in line for six hours for $20 worth of gas. Try to sit in a hot car for six hours without water. All water and food supplies are exhausted no stores have anything left on the shelves. We traded ten gallons of diesel fuel from our broken generator for a pizza and three gallons of regular gas. Sounds like a bad deal, right? but we helped a friend and I know that will come back tenfold.

We honestly are doing the best we can. Spirits are up and my bride is being more positive than can be expected. She is doing her best to keep us all from losing it. I will admit we all have our minor breakdowns daily. We did not take cash out of an ATM before the storm so we had virtually zero purchasing power. All ATM’s are out of money. Credit cards do not work and no one will take an “I owe you.”

What do you do when you have nothing else to do? Yep, you go to work.

I was able to get into the Post Office and open the doors. I also opened the front doors so people could come in and check mail from before the hurricane. It quickly ended up being a meet and greet location. I did not have power, telephone, internet or coworkers. I had not heard from any of them. I was hoping by opening the office I would at least see a few of them. It turns out that most of them live too far away and the roads are still not clear. I did get to see two of them and they stated they had not heard from the others. I hope they all are ok? Just a phone call away, right? Too bad we have no phones.

I kept the doors open as long as I could, but honestly it was a waste of time. I did not receive any mail from San Juan and I could not send anything out. And everyone that walked in was looking for the same information we were. I just didn’t have any good info. We closed up and went to the grocery store. We were able to get a few dollars out of the ATM which has helped tremendously. We then found out the The Cofressi Hotel had a phone that worked. How is that possible we thought? We drove over there and called my father.

We described our situation to him better than it actually was so he and he and the rest of the family would not worry too much. I know he could tell I wasn’t telling him everything. But I think he too did not need to hear the truth yet. He told us he would call everyone and let them know we were alive and kicking. It was a huge relief for all us. After the phone call the owner of the hotel gave me a bag of ice and an ice cold glass of water. A bag of ice right now is probably worth more than anything other than gas. I am sure you have had an ice cold glass of water on a hot day and how good that feels. This was ten times better. I never thought I would want water more than a mojito.

I am so glad we used the phone when we did as that same line went dead the next day. Not to rehash but, I have my unbelievably positive bride, Madison (20) my daughter who just had knee surgery, and Liam (17) my teenage son to care for and feed. Even the simplest things like flushing a toilet have become more involved now. We only let the girls use the inside toilet for one and two. The boys only get to use it for number two. We are trying to conserve water as much as possible. Potable water is no longer available. For drinking we now have to buy juice, soda pop and beer but that won’t last very long either. We are using rain water that we collected from the rain gutters. We will soon be boiling that and running it through a coffee filter. It’s kind of like camping on steroids or during an apocalypse.

I still have not heard from the Postal Service. I have been checking on the office daily. It turns out the diesel generator fuel was emptied out sometime after the storm and the battery for that generator is now dead. Now, for the boat. “Address Unknown” our Beneteau Oceanis 361 which is/was at anchor in Cabo Rojo. Before Hurricane Irma we moved her to anchor. We tried a strange anchoring technique and it worked for the first storm so we tried it again. All the other boats heard about what we did tried the same thing. We ended up with ninety boats at anchor in our little bay. Think about this, ninety boats at anchor bobbing up and down during the biggest storm to hit PR in recorded history with winds over 200 mph. I knew our boat was a total lose so I delayed going to the boat as much as possible. We were told the waves were breaking over the gate at the marina. I am guessing that is around 15-20 feet in the bay.

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Hurricane Maria Uncategorized

Whats Left?

On Thursday, 9-20-17 we all ventured outside to see the damage. It was still raining and the winds were still blowing. It was actually hot and the air had a strange smell. Later the guy at the marina said the same thing but added it smelled like death. I thought I was the only one that noticed that smell. The neighbors actually had the same problem with the electrical outlets but were not able to go on to the roof during the storm. Their homes were completely flooded. One house ended up with six feet of water inside.

We helped as many people as we could, cleaning gutters, removing debris, mopping up water, cutting power poles, cutting trees and removing power lines/phone lines/internet lines. We also ran electrical lines from a house with a working generator to several homes so they could run their refrigerator. It was a long day. We were able to drive the truck after clearing a path up the hill and see the ocean. The ocean was about 5 miles away and the waves were visible. My best guess is 35-40 foot waves. After several attempts to go further failed we went back to Jerrys house and I passed out at 6:00 pm. I would like to add our hosts (Jerry and family) we’re amazing. They accommodated five extra people in their home during one of the biggest storms to have ever hit Puerto Rico. We will be forever grateful to them.

Finally, Friday 9-22-17- The Storm Has Passed

We woke up with the intention to drive back home to Rincon. Jerry had left early to go to work. It always astonishes me how and why certain things happen. Today was also our grandchildren’s first birthday. They moved to the states with their mother in three months earlier. We never knew it was going to be this difficult to reach out to loved ones. It would have been nice to just facetime or something. I know they are only one-year-old and won’t remember this first birthday but I will. We all are so glad they are not here to experience this.

We then noticed that we had a flat tire on the car and we could not find the keys. Typical, huh? It seems every little task has started to turn into a huge ordeal. Liam and I gave up looking for the keys and decided to go for a walk. We figured someone picked up the keys and moved them or Jerry accidentally took them to work. We had no choice but to wait for Jerry to return. We assumed he would be at work all day so off we went to find a solution to getting home. Keep in mind the dogs and cats have been locked up in the house for five days during a hurricane. We left them with the intention of returning the next day. I can’t even imagine the horror they experienced; abandonment, sadness, hunger, thirst and so on. Plus, we all were ready to be back in our home. This storm left very little standing and we were anxious to see what was left of our world.

Liam and I walked about four miles over trees and downed power lines to get to a friend’s house. Our mistake was not telling anyone where we were going. We made it to their house and of course they were not home. Who would be home after a hurricane? No one, right? We all have that curiosity to explore the debris field. We walked about a mile further away and ended up getting a ride to another friend’s house. We had been gone for over two hours without telling anyone where we were. I can’t fathom the fear my bride was experiencing. I’ll bet if I bring this up I will get the silent treatment for another week.

It turns out Jerry accidentally put the keys in his bedroom. If we would have stayed 15 more minutes we would have been able to drive home 2-3 hours earlier. It worked out as I was able to talk to some other friends about the roads between Mayaguez and Rincon. I also had some fresh brewed coffee and a homemade egg sandwich. Don’t tell Liam or my bride but that was on damn good sandwich. Liam drove back with Jose to pick up Jenn. Since we did not have the car keys Jose volunteered to drive us back to Rincon. So off they went to retrieve my bride. I guess it was about an hour later when they arrived.

To my surprise Jenn pulled up in her car. They had changed the tire. I was so glad. I hate changing tires. I will add she was mad as HELL. So after the butt chew of the century we set out on our way to Rincon. I have to say the drive home was super quiet. We all had no idea what to expect. Was our house going to still be there? Are the dogs alive? Did the big dog eat the little dog? Cats? Cars? Neighbors? Friends? What are we going to see?

The drive home took longer than expected. All the roads were down to one lane. Huge cement power poles all over the roads. Full sized trees lying everywhere. If you can imagine an atomic bomb being dropped and what it looks like afterwards. As we drove towards Rincon we passed endless fields of debris, dead cows, dead horses, mud, cars on roofs of houses, rivers overflowing, homes scattered about, sections of roofs everywhere. It was/is apocalyptic.

The sadness in the car on the way home was deafening.

During that drive home I don’t think five words were spoken. I was thinking she must still be mad? But after 25 years of marriage I know when to ask that question. When we crested the hill driving into Rincon we could see our home perched on the cliff. It was still there, but from the road below, it looked as if half the house had blown away. Jenn immediately burst into tears. It was an impossible drive to the hill top. All roads were blocked by landslides, debris or trees. We tried three different routes and finally made it home. As we got closer the damage became more visible.

Our hearts sunk as we pulled up in front of the house.

The fence in front of the house was broken and knocked over. The paint on our house peeled off. The roof of the upstairs unit and gazebo torn off and left in pieces. We had parts of trees, parts of the neighbors’ house, parts of our house littered throughout the yard and decks. It was inconceivable. We let the dogs and cats out. To my surprise they all were happy to see us. The big dog didn’t eat the little dog or vice a versa. As we walked through the house trudging through 3-4 inches of water we realized how blessed we actually were. The overall, damage was not that bad. We lost a roof, a ceiling fan, some furniture, a few windows/doors, Knick knacks, clothes, tile, some lawn furniture and various other items. We did have a lot of water damage throughout the house and everything upstairs was ruined- the roof had been completely torn off.

Overall, we were pretty darn lucky. We quickly placed the living room door back up with wood braces and covered the broken glass with wood. This is a temporary fix as we had no other options to get this fixed anytime soon. After that Jose decided he needed to get back home and handed me some cash. He said, “Trust me. You will need this. Pay me back later.” Normally I would decline but something told me to accept it. At that time, I did not know that money would be so hard to get.

We then fixed the fence so the dogs could go outside and focused on getting the water out of the house. Our first night back was surreal. We just couldn’t believe what we witnessed. We haven’t addressed the roof yet or any other real repairs. I hope to find a store that is open so I can put a tarp over the hole.

It turns out, things after a hurricane are far worse than during.

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In the Eye of the Hurricane

On Wednesday, 9-19-17 at 1:16 AM the power in Mayaguez went out. Funny how the power remained on in Mayaguez five hours longer than in Rincon. We all decided to head off to bed as the storm was already starting to hit. At least the outer bands started. We all laid in bed listening to the howling winds. I really don’t think any of us actually slept. The noises were not that of a normal storm. It sounded similar to screaming children. We looked outside and could only see pitch black with the occasional glimpse of a palm tree bending over.

Then just like that branches were flying by, then tress and debris.

What we didn’t know was this storm was supposed to last about 12 hours and that doesn’t sound like that long but this storm lasted twice that. We all were very comfortable at Jerrys house. He had his parents, his daughter Solymar (17) and lovely bride Nilma. They were as prepared for this as we were, not very. But one thing about being in a disaster, it’s nice to have someone else to talk to during tense times. We woke the next day to high winds and debris everywhere. We actually were able to go outside in the carport and feel the intense pressure changes as the wind blew by. We all thought ok, this isn’t that bad. Just high winds and tree limbs.

We cleaned the leaves out of the pool and picked up a few limbs and then suddenly the wind speed changed. It didn’t just change, it became unfreaking real. It was impossible to stand up. Then trees started cracking in half, huge garbage cans blew by and satellite dishes bouncing down the street. It was time to get back inside. We all sat in the living room looking out at the storm windows in awe. This was like nothing anyone of us had ever seen. We ate breakfast and watched movies and played games. We tried everything to keep us distracted from what was going on outside.

We wondered what was going on with our house and the poor dogs. They had now been locked in the house for over 16 hours in extreme conditions. I can’t imagine what noises they were hearing. As the day went on we kind of got used to the noises, wind and rain. We thought this isn’t that bad..

Then all the trees around the house started to snap in two.

The huge mango tree across the street fell. Outside looked like an ad for the weather channel storm chasers. The water started coming into the house around every door and window. We were constantly trying to clean up the water. We used towels and mops for over 12 hours. We had divided into teams of people- one group mopped up the water, the others were rigging out the towels and sending them back out. And all of the sudden the storm slowed down and we noticed water coming out of the electrical outlets.

We put up a ladder to check the roof rain gutters and found 12-18 inches of water on the roof. The water was so high it was coming down the electrical pole into the electrical conduits. We had to clean the gutters out to prevent further damage to the house so we climbed onto the roof and removed all the debris and drained the roof. This took us several hours. This is when realized we were in the eye of this hurricane. It was an eerie calm. We honestly though it was over. We even jumped in the pool to clean out palm leaves. It was bad outside but not too bad.

We started cleaning the yard and putting things back, and in a matter of minutes the wind changed directions and the air had a weird smell. It was actually kind of hot and very humid. We could see the sun again. It is really hard to explain. But it was clearly different to all of us. We all had thought the storm was going to exit PR on the NW side of the island. We all thought it was over. We were so wrong. When the storm changed for us it seemed to increase in intensity.

The last 12 hours was nothing compared to what was coming next.

Everything I described before was times ten times greater. I don’t ever want to experience that again. Full trees were flying by. Telephone poles snapped in half. Cars moved around almost floating as they slid down the streets. For the next eight hours we chased water out of the house. All the windows and doors had water squirting in. We even made a 2-hour schedule for each person to soak up water with towels and ring out the water during that next 12-hour part of the hurricane. It was a very long night.