Hurricane Update #3

Jeanne, hurricane number 6,049 to hit Florida this season, was not supposed to be a big deal. It was a tiny storm, and it was very clearly headed out to sea. Then, just like a woman, she changed her mind and actually turned in a complete circle and began her westward crawl.

Aside: I hate when there’s a hurricane and people refer to it as “he” or “she.” That’s stupid. It’s a friggin hurricane.

So, Friday, miles and miles away, we had to decide how to prep. Since most of our higher-ups were off on some major acquisition tour, I was left here to make decisions about the prep myself. I can tell you that although flattering, I hate the responsibility of deciding how to prep a 50 million dollar company’s network for a storm, especially when the day to day work, in many ways, revolves around the network. I took it pretty lightly – the storm was far away, it was slated to cruise the coast, and it had only light winds. I decided to have everyone unplug and wrap up their stuff but barely touched the server room. Instead, I ran a good backup and that was it. I figured, if anything, we were worried about rain, not wind. Plus, work hadn’t even lost power once in the last two hurricanes. I stayed late, ran backups, took the tapes, and went out for dinner and movie.

Of course, Saturday morning I wake up to find Jeanne making a bee-line directly for Orlando. Living in Volusia County — I’m only about 20 miles form Daytona — we constantly get floods, power outages, and downed trees. I work in Seminole County, which borders Orange County, which contains Orlando proper. As you can see, downtown Orlando is practically a galaxy away when it comes to storms. But the storm was going to hit, and it was going to hit us all, so we decided to stay at our place, just the three of us, BJ, Danielle, and me. We’re getting to be pros at riding out hurricanes together, even though it usually is eventually reduced to me shouting at the TV Danielle watches, like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition — “If that were me, I’d tell them, ‘Sure, I like astronauts okay, but don’t give me some stupid ass space
alien theme room. I promise you – I won’t like this crap in a year.'” or “Nice particle board wall! I betcha that house falls apart in 6 months” or “That designer chick Tracy is really pretty hot.”

Anyway, we prepped on Saturday – boards on the windows, tarps on the massively battered roof, cars in the garage, motorcycle in the kitchen, etc. Even in the mid-morning, it was really windy. The wind was knocking me around on the roof, which was really kind of cool. I went inside, dialed in to our network and shutdown some core servers just in case. Ready by about 3, we sat back for the thing.

Now, for those of you who have never been through the heart of a hurricane, as an expert, let me sum it up for you: BO-RING. To be blunt, most hurricanes are the most goddamned boring thing you’ll ever live through. Charley ripped through at a ridiculous speed, but the last two, which I understand are a much better representation of a typical hurricane, were slow as hell. So we watched a movie, and then another, and then another. By late night, we started to get stronger gusts. The wind was blowing pretty hard, and the rain was just smashing into the plywood on the windows. Power blinked – the surefire sign that we were about to lose it for good, but then steadied. We kept going outside, because after all, there’s not that much to do, and eventually went to bed around 11:30.

The next morning we woke to find Jeanne STILL bothering us. In fact, the curfew had been extended pretty much the whole day and it was still really windy. We watched more TV and movies, and eventually went outside to hold up a sheet and test the strength of the wind. That was fun for about 30 seconds. There was a cool view for a few
minutes; it looked very pre-tornado, where the clouds were like race cars, just flying across the sky in a race of sorts. Surveying the damage, the roof had once again taken a hell of a beating. But surprisingly, we had power and cable. This was good.

Yesterday was a LONG day. I checked around with my FL peeps, and everyone is alive and there isn’t as much damage. Everyone sat around bored, eating and watching TV for two days straight, compounded by the ban on alcohol sales and the unending curfew.

I came into work this morning and got everything running. We did lose power and all the servers that weren’t shut off manually beforehand bled the UPSes dry and conked out. I got everything back up and running and online within a half hour, which was awesome, and although everyone is more or less devastated mentally from going through this crap, everyone is ok. Notice that with each passing hurricane, the story gets less interesting. So, in summary – we’re alive, but we’re
tired.

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