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Hurricane Maria Uncategorized

The Full Moon

Today was actually a better day. We saw our first helicopter. It was huge! It flew by slowly looking at the debris field then left. Then we received some water and MRE’s from the Postal Service. This was a nice surprise. We distributed everything among employees and we have a few items left that we are going to drop off to several families in the hills.

We had visitors from the DEA and the Postal Inspection Service. The DEA brought additional food supplies and water. That was incredibly thoughtful. They also have no form of communication with anyone out in the field. We still have no radio, no TV, no sat phones, no internet, no real cell or phone service, nothing. They too called this a clusterfuck as no one knows what is going on. It is impossible to coordinate any consistent relief effort. They also told us that several million pounds of relief supplies will be arriving soon, possibly Thursday?

The cell service works on and off for only a few minutes at a time. I was actually able to go on line for 1-minute last night. My phone chirped then nothing. I was hopeful for that one little moment. We have a hotspot but it only works about 20 miles away from Rincon. It is virtually useless due to the gas situation.

We still cannot find diesel fuel for the Post Office generator so we are using the last of my personal diesel fuel supply. Not sure if that is a good idea as I was using that to barter but I really don’t have a choice. I now have almost forty employees relying on us to be open daily. We mixed the Aguada Post Office employees into the Rincon Post Office. We all are under one roof without A/C. We feel very bad for the employees of Aguada as their facility was flooded with sewage. That facility should start to be cleaned this week but it has more problems. The mold has taken over in the last two weeks.

This afternoon I noticed that it is going to be a full moon. So the next few days are going to be more challenging than they should be. Everyone jokes that the full moon brings out the crazies. It doesn’t but, it does bring out everybody’s short temper and believe me we all are short tempered now. And now for some more positive things.

We have some food. We have some fresh drinking water. We also have several residents doing more for the community than expected. I have witnessed people giving fuel to others, giving generators to others, giving water filters, passing out fans, people helping move trees/debris. The Puerto Rican people are strong, loyal and caring. I have never witnessed such compassion in my life. Even some businesses have stepped up to help the community.

The gas lines are starting to get shorter now. This is a great thing. Can you imagine waiting in line for fuel for 6-12 hours for $20 of fuel every other day? I have heard the grocery stores will open soon. Not sure when but, that has to be true.

I have seen people laughing and crying when they embrace their friends and family. I see this daily. I have seen so much good in this little town. I can only hope the good will continue.

Oh, no street walkers last night. Weird, huh? Several people have told me that these days are similar to the TV show, Walking Dead. Thank god it isn’t….

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Hurricane Maria

The Great Clusterfuck

First day trying to open the Post office for real.

I took 10 gallons of diesel from our home generator supply to add to the Postal Service Generator. At some point in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria someone broke in and siphoned out all the diesel fuel from the Postal Service generator. My personal generator is useless right now anyway as it blew up on day one. I will at some point try to take it apart and fix it. I filled the Postal Service Generator and started turning on all the essential items.

We still do not have basic services like power, internet, cell service, phone service and most importantly running water. I am hoping that the Postal Service will fulfill my request for fuel soon as my supply will run out fast. We opened the retail window and sold our first money order in over two weeks. The public was very anxious to see something go back to normal.

At 11:00 am the employees from the Aguada Post Office arrived. The Aguada Post Office was submerged in 4-5 feet of sewage. It will take a while to clean up that facility. So for the near future we will have an additional 20 employees working in our facility. Keep in mind no running water or working bathrooms for over 40 employees. We love having our coworkers from Aguada with us. We just wish we could provide them and us some basic essential needs. We do what we can.

So anyway, after we left the Post Office we stopped at the plaza. We heard that FEMA finally arrived in Rincon and they were located near the lighthouse. Why did they pick the lighthouse location to set up? The lighthouse is on a dead end street at the far north side of town. It’s actually 3 miles from the Rincon town center. No one even knew they were there. Maybe that was the point? No announcements or postings were made.

I swear this recovery program is being run by the producers of Southpark. Maybe this aftermath is going to be a pilot reality TV show. Or a, what not to do show? I did end up with an orange from a passerby. It can’t get any more screwed up can it? Can it?

We left the plaza after that crazy news and headed up to our roofless abode. We then filled up 20+ gallon containers from a garbage can that collects rain water so we could flush toilets. We then fed the dogs the little dog food we had left. I guess we will have that chore tomorrow. They do protect the house so they are earning their keep right now. Next week they might be on the rotisserie. .

Every few hours I ask myself, this cannot be real, it has to be a dream, right? Its two full weeks after a major disaster and nothing still makes any sense. No one is making rational decisions and all aspects of communication continue to breakdown. Only one word truly describes our situation.

CLUSTERFUCK!

Sorry, if I offended anyone- I swear its a real word. The good news of the day, we made it through another day on our own and I mean ON OUR OWN.

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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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Uncategorized

Hurricane Maria Continued….

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 as well. 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 see some progress today. It’s been a long two weeks…

Found Wifi YEAH!!!!! Today’s quest after cleaning the house was to find Wi-Fi. We drove to McDonalds about thirty minutes away in Mayaguez. Sadly, no Wi-Fi. So we ordered a couple of Mcflurry’s. Ok, I am not a fan of McDonald’s but that was one damn nice treat. We then sat down and enjoyed the A/C. The weather since the hurricane has been very strange. Some days are over 100 degrees and others are in the 80’s. But the even stranger thing is we all seem to get easily sunburned now.

Anyway, while sitting there we noticed a girl using her phone for FB and snapchat. So we asked, how are you getting through to the internet. She told us she had Claro (Mexican owned Cellphone Company) and she allowed us to piggy back onto it using something called hotspot. This was great! We all checked email, made some calls and were able to check the future weather forecast.

It has been very difficult not to be able to have any communication whatsoever. She ended up leaving after about ½ hour but told us where we also could get the same thing. Jenn was like the Tasmanian Devil and took off leaving a trail of dust. She returned about an hour later with a working hotspot.

We all ended up trying to use it for the rest of the day. It worked great in Mayaguez but when we returned to Rincon it did not work. I guess the cellphone towers over here are too far gone. We saw one twisted up on the road down the street from our house. It is unbelievable to see something that tall lying on the road.

Overall, it was a better day. Still no sign of the Military, the police, the National Guard, Red Cross, FEMA or anything. Despair is setting in all over Rincon.

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Uncategorized

The Big Storm

Let’s start by saying it hasn’t been any easy 2 weeks Living in our Caribbean paradise. You may think living in the Caribbean is easy? It really should be! We all dream of beautiful beaches, sunny skies and endless tequila sunrises. And for me its Mojitos, something about the mint leaves drives me crazy. Sorry, I was imagining better days when Mojitos were easier to get. This will make more sense later.

Let me start with Hurricane Irma. She was a little storm that quickly developed into one of the biggest storms the Caribbean has ever seen, a CAT 5. Yes, a CAT 5! I did not believe it was possible for a hurricane to actually develop into a CAT 5. Hurricane Irma destroyed multiple islands on its way to PR and I mean destroyed! I will never be able to properly explain the devastation. The BVI, USVI, Martinique, St. Martin and many other smaller islands were completely destroyed. It will take years for them to recover if they can recover at all.

We have several friends who have lost everything. The charter boating industry will never recover over there. All (4) of the St. Thomas’s US Post Offices were completely destroyed rendering the island virtually helpless. Almost all Caribbean industries rely on the US Postal Service for mail, parcels, money orders, PO Boxes, etc. It is unknown when they will resume normal delivery services, if ever.

Remember with the success of Amazon Prime (Free shipping/tax free purchases) mailing is a primary way for residents of the Caribbean to receive goods. This will have a drastic impact on employment and the tourism industry.

Well, let me get back to my crazy story.

The island of Puerto Rico is only 30 miles wide and 90 miles long. Hurricane Irma was supposed to veer north but left us all with our pants down. She buzzed by, tearing roofs off of houses, cracking trees in half and leaving us with waves over 20-30 feet breaking on the beaches. It was a storm for the history books. Irma went on to devastate the Florida Keys and other parts of the US. Everyone in PR thought this was the worst of the worst. We lost power for days, internet, cable, water and cell service. It was all gone! But it all started to return one by one and in less than a week everything was back to normal. Even the Postal Service in the Caribbean was completely shut down for three days. I’m sure you all know that motto, “Rain, Sleet, Snow or Hail”. It was a crippling storm.

As things settled down and we all started back to our normal lives. We cleaned up and took storm shutters off. We moved the boat back to the dock and put all the sails back on, solar panels, Bimini and everything else we took off. We have some friends that told us a trick about anchoring in storms. The trick worked and our boat survived 15 foot seas, 100 mph winds and didn’t move an inch. I will be forever grateful to them.

We laughed and joked about how storms never seem to really damage the west side of Puerto Rico. We also started several disaster relief programs to help the islands that were damaged and sent water, generators and so much more to help out. Then just like that it was reported that we had another developing storm called Hurricane Jose.

It was smaller but on the same path. It was intensifying and we all thought, how is this possible? Lightening never strikes twice, right? Hurricane Jose finally veered north and meandered around before turning into a tropical storm. He never really affected PRother than some really epic surfing waves. So we all thought it was over. Again, thinking how lucky the west side is/was.

We all became relaxed and somewhat complacent. We all went back to our normal daily routines (eating Pinchos, drinking Mojitos and living the Caribbean dream). This didn’t last long. The history books show one of the most devastating Hurricanes to hit PR was Hurricane George about twenty years ago. That storm was a CAT 3 and it virtually crippled PR for almost six months. The island had no power, phone service and water for up to six months. So many lost their lives and now it was a distant memory. A storm like that could never happen again, we are so much more prepared now….

Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria was developing off the coast of Africa. Puerto Rico sent almost all emergency supplies, National Guard troops and power company employees to assist the islands hit by the previous two storms, Irma and Jose. Puerto Rico was not ready for what was about to happen next. Everyone thought Maria would go north and spare PR. It always goes north.

Don’t worry, lightning never strikes twice.

I will never believe that statement again. So most of us were not prepared for what occurred next. On Saturday the Weather Channel broadcasted/predicted a possible direct hit from hurricane Maria. No one really took it seriously, including me. I went to the boat. I cleaned the bilges, deck and stainless. I even enjoyed a mojito with a fellow sailor. It was a beautiful weekend. On Monday, 9-18-17 the National Hurricane Center announced that Hurricane Maria was developing into a major storm and could be a Cat 2 or 3 hurricane. We all thought, no way lighting never strikes twice.

This storm Hurricane Maria ended up growing into a CAT 5 with winds greater than 200 mph and was going to hit PR. Everyone still couldn’t believe it. We all started running around trying to get supplies. But the supplies needed were sent off to other islands the week earlier. It was unreal.

On Tuesday 9-18-17 we moved the boat back out to anchor (using the same anchor trick), removed everything again, sealed all windows and made a small prayer. The last hurricane buzzed by but it was not a direct hit. This one will be direct hit. I knew the boat might be a total lose. I just had a bad feeling about this one. Plus, this was the last day we had any form of communication with the outside world. It would be at least a week without cable, internet, cell service, phone service, power, water, fuel, ATM’s, credit cards and so much more.

We then focused our efforts on the house. We put hurricane straps on the wooden roof addition. It’s a small one bedroom, one bath unit wood structure (stick built) on the roof of our cement home. We thought for sure it would be blown away in this storm. But we were going to try everything possible to save it.

We then put all storm shutters on and tied everything else down. I know I am forgetting some of the other things we did. Let’s just say we were busier than I can ever remember being. The past two weeks were just a blur to begin with, then it was about to get real. Really, real!

Everyone was in a frenzy, getting boards, hurricane straps, food, water, gas/fuel and even dog food.

The hurricane was only supposed to last 10-12 hours. So as far as food, water and ice we didn’t need that much. Besides, this wasn’t our first rodeo. We were not worried and we were more prepared this time. I will admit staying up for over 48 hours preparing for this hurricane is not recommended. You really start to imagine doing things you didn’t do. It all was a blur anyway but the lack of sleep made it so much worse.

We sat down after dinner and started to watch the weather channel. We watched the path of Hurricane Maria change. I will admit I started to panic. Then the power went out. The power always goes out on this side of the island if the wind blows. This was not a problem as I had just replaced the fuel line and glow plug in our generator. I fired up the generator and went back inside to watch the weather channel. After about an hour later the generator started making a strange noise then turned off. I ran down stairs and found that the piston seized and the generator was rendered useless. Now I had no way of knowing where this storm was going.

I went outside and started to think about my options. I knew I could make it through the hurricane but I wasn’t sure about the other four people I was responsible for. I started thinking that maybe a shelter would be a good idea?..

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW!

Then I received a call from my father in Maryland. He said, “Get out of your house now. That storm is on a direct path to you.”. Ok, I was already freaked out until that call. I was completely on the verge of a breakdown now. I know my role as a father and husband is to protect my family, but sometimes you just don’t have all the correct answers. I really pondered what to do.

I then called my friend Jerry. He lives in Mayaguez near our first house. He told me the same thing. Get out of that house now! Our house is on a mountain top on the west side of PR. We have an amazing view. But we don’t have anything around that blocks any wind. We literally are on top of the mountain. He invited us to go to his house in Mayaguez as it was going to be further south of the path of the hurricane. Everyone fought me about leaving the house as we have three dogs and a couple of cats. We ended up agreeing and locked up the animals in the house and drove to Mayaguez. Our group barely fit into the car with the few supplies we took. It was a fun drive as we laughed and joked about being crammed into a tin can with a cooler, pillows, a small bag of clothes and chips. Healthy food, huh? My lovely bride Jenn, my son Liam (17), my daughter Madison (20, and had just gotten knee surgery five days before) and myself we had no idea what we were getting ready to a part of.

We arrived there around 10:00 pm and Jerry and his wife had made some beds for us and we had a glass of wine or two? We talked and laughed until 1:16 am.

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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.