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8 Weeks: A Never-Ending Game of Playing Catch-Up

Eight weeks may seem like a long time, but for those of us who were hit by Hurricane Michael exactly two months ago, it’s been but the blink of an eye.

Here’s some perspective for you.  We were in school eight weeks and two days before the hurricane snuck up on us and changed our lives forever.  We have, essentially, spent the same amount of time regrouping as we did getting our classrooms under control and functioning smoothly.

Routine takes time to establish, don’t you know.

There’s certainly been nothing routine since October 10th.

Y’all, we are still struggling.

So much.

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A friend posted a Facebook update yesterday that read, “This is exhausting! I’m going to need to go on a mega vacation when this is all over. 😩 Mentally, emotionally, physically draining.”

My response?  “Yes.”

Here’s a video I made yesterday on my way home from a friend’s house.  It’s the same route I drove when I first came home and saw the destruction.  Not much has changed.

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My principal decided, a week and a half into school, that he would allow teachers to leave earlier than the original 1:30 mandate he’d handed down at the beginning.  I, for one, have been thrilled because my brain simply cannot function a minute past when the final bell rings.  To be sure, I go home and work from there, but there’s always a nap in between because, y’all, hurricane recovery is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

Evidence of my brain not working too well . . . I can’t find Joseph . . .

I also realized, while I was paying bills Sunday night, that I’d forgotten to make my car payment in November.  Yikes!  I called on Monday and explained about a maniac named Michael.  I also begged them not to call a collection agency; I’d never been late on a payment before.  My car company isn’t charging me a late fee, and I get to make TWO car payments this month.

Joy to the World.

Oh, and more evidence of Hurricane Brain?  Last week, I bought pickles because I needed them for a recipe.  They were B1G1.  Y’all, I forgot to get the free jar.  I went back and got it yesterday.  Sigh.

Eight weeks post-hurricane, our roads are still lined with debris.  Some of the piles are getting smaller while others are getting larger thanks to errant contractors who are illegally dumping their trash onto other people’s mountains of waste.

Trucks are making their way around neighborhoods as quickly as they can, but it’s a daunting task.

I was ecstatic when I got home yesterday and saw a truck on my street.

I was in tears when I noticed my house, which it had just passed, leaving my yard debris-free.

For eight weeks, we have lived with piles of fences, gutters, and shingles where trees used to be.

I’m not even sure my eyes believe what they are seeing – my neighbor’s trash can not playing peek a boo with the stuff that used to sit to the right of it.

Here’s a video that shows a little more of the neighborhood . . .

I’m thankful for the brief moments of joy because they help offset the harder stuff of life right now.

A little funny here.  As I was typing this post, I ran out to move my car in the garage (hello, Universe, but can I please have a new garage door opener – STAT?!).  As I went to pull the door down, I saw the Mr. in his car . . . about to pull into the neighbor’s driveway.  He saw me and sheepishly backed out.  Then, he pulled into our driveway.  He admitted that things look different every single day.  Without our tree beside our driveway, it’s hard to recognize things.  I almost cried – no lying there.

You have to find humor where you can, even when tears are sitting just below the surface.

When I went out to run errands about an hour later, I got stuck behind the same debris truck.

Take a look at the couch being disposed of.

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It’s actually very sad as you watch people’s belongings being carted off like that.  You realize how truly unimportant material things can be.

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Traffic continues to be a nightmare, and it always seems as though I’m stuck in the middle of it at the most inopportune times.

Last Monday, I cut my finger pretty badly with a brand new kitchen knife I’d purchased on Black Friday.  Chicky’s words as I paid were, “Don’t cut yourself.”

It needed stitches, so I headed out to find a walk-in clinic.

I turned to the right to go toward town, and traffic was backed up for over a mile.  When I finally got there, the place was closed despite the hours that I’d seen posted on the internet.

I turned around and made my way to another clinic, once again facing traffic, only to find that it was closed as well.

I wound up going to the emergency room.  It was packed and was partially staffed by people from Texas.  They had come over to give local nurses a break for Thanksgiving.  I joined the multitude when one of these nurses gave me a tetanus shot.  I think that nearly everyone has gotten this shot since the storm hit.

Still bruised a week later

I talked to the doctor who sewed me up (four stitches – because I’m an overachiever), and he minimized the damage to his home.

Two shots to numb it – down by the bottom joint – and my finger swelled up!

I finally got him to tell me that his roof had gotten holes in it from the trees that had fallen on it, but, as everyone around here says, he was better off than most people.

That truly is the saying.  I’ve seen homes completely gutted, and people will still say that others have it worse.

Eating out is still challenging.  We went to Chili’s for lunch after church on Sunday.   The gal who waited on us has been our bartender (we like to sit and watch TV on the bar side) before.  She’s a sweet girl, but she told us that the main reason why the place can only stay open until 5pm is that they don’t have enough workers.  The ones they have work until closing – every day.

She also told our group that recently, when she’d been shopping in Walmart, someone was getting very angry about the long lines at the checkout.  She asked where he was from, and he said he was from Pensacola.  She then explained to him that our little area lost 40% of its workforce – hence the wait.

That’s really an astounding number.  It’s a huge reason why restaurants and other businesses can’t open – besides the damage that needs to be repaired.

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Other issues we continue to deal with are long lines at the gas station and the bank.  Most stations were destroyed by the storm, and banks are still being repaired.

Just when we get used to living with partially-torn out floors and no fences, we get assailed by new reminders of things that need to be fixed.  The hubby noticed that some unknown object had punched a hole through our gutter during the storm.  So, we have our own waterfall now.

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Speaking of fences, thanks to not having one, I can step out any day I want and see sights like this . . .

The people who own that home had to have it gutted.  I was glad to see their chimney being rebuilt.

Our church moved its Sunday service to a school up the road.  God proved Himself so amazing with timing; it rained on Sunday – our first meeting in the gymnasium.  It had not rained any day we had met in the parking lot prior to this past weekend.

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Believe it or not, some people are still without essential services like electricity.  I have friends who still don’t have internet service at home.  I talked to tech guy in my district, and he does a lot of work from home.  He said that he feels like he’s constantly playing catch-up.

I think that sums up so well how we are operating these days.  I think it’s why we stay exhausted.

I can’t seem to keep my house clean because I’m constantly making choices, with the energy I have, as to what I need to get done first.  If something isn’t finished by 7pm, it’s just not happening.  I am in bed by 9:30 most nights – unheard of by this night owl.

It doesn’t really feel like Christmas season, despite the tree we decorated and the one in front of my house, because we missed an entire month of our lives.

If you ask any of us here what we’re doing for gifts, we will tell you that we’re shopping online.  Personally, I don’t want to face the traffic to cross the bridge.  Even if I did, I’d have to deal with large crowds, which I don’t do very well.  Sigh.

Hello Universe, can I get a do-over for October?

It’s like I’ve spun too many times in one direction and need to spin in the other to balance myself out.

Unfortunately, we can’t reverse time like Superman did by flying around the world in the opposite direction from its usual rotation to save Lois Lane.

A friend commented that I’d been a trooper through all of this.

Y’all, I do not feel like one, and quite honestly, I’m tired of being one.

The good news is that I’m not by myself in this.  I am surrounded by so many people who are going through the same thing.

We laugh together, and we cry together.  We vent angry words to each other, and then we might have adult beverages together because, well, I kind of think we’ve earned it.

I’m thankful for the prayers of family, friends, and complete strangers.  I’m grateful for the tangible donations that have come in from near and far.  Please keep praying.  We need this about as much as we need new roofs and floors.

Most of all, I give all praise to God.  Every morning, He reminds me of His presence – often through the gorgeous sunrises He sends in my direction – colors of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

We continue to be #850strong, standing on God’s shoulders, buoyed by His Spirit, and aided by heavenly and earthly angels.

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