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.