Tag Archives: Hurricane

Katrina.

Can you imagine being in New Orleans right about now? How friggin scary that must be! I just heard that parts of the roof of the Superdome are coming off and the water is leaking in.

JP’s family evacuated and I admit, it’s a very scary thing even just to know that they may not have a house, or their stuff, or anything. Even if it survives, it could be months before they can move back. Yikes.

Tagged ,

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.

Tagged

Hurricane Update

It’s now Saturday, and it’s been over a week since Frances hit. We got power back THIS MORNING, so I’ve been living at Danielle’s again, sleeping wherever, eating out every day, and coming back to Deltona only to find a hot, slightly-moldy place and the incessant hum of generators.

After another night of poor quality sleep in someone else’s bed, I’m exhausted. The hurricanes bring a strange air about – the frenzy and stress, sure. The rush to gather water, canned goods, bleach, generators, plywood, drill bits, all that stuff, sure. The people waiting in 1970’s style lines for gasoline, sure. And strangely, a weird mix of fear, excitement, and antici……pation.

Watching people prep for Frances was an amazing experience. You get to see real community – community at best and worst. For days, it was hurricane-mania here. It was the topic of every conversation in every restaurant, it was what strangers chatted about on the sidewalk as they waited for the bus, and it was doubtlessly what the county cleanup crews swore up and down at as they continued to remove debris that was leftover from Charley.

For us it was different, unlike anything I’d ever seen. The prep work began days in advance, and it was left up to me how to prepare our IT equipment. I chose a pretty conservative route this time – our remote offices would break down their machines, wrap them in plastic bags, and secure them anywhere raised off of the ground. In the corporate office, the same. Everyone would disconnect everything and wrap it. I would break down the server room, completely disassembling the Massey backbone for the fourth time since I took the job last May. Then I backups, one set of which I’d take with me. Classic overprotection.

Since plywood was pretty much unavailable, BJ and I set off on a deep cover mission to score plywood. Wednesday just after midnight we scoped out some local construction sites. Some bastard ass dog decided not only to bark, and quite loudly at that, but also to follow us all the way there and back. He managed not only to piss us off to the point of considering “pupicide,” but also wake up every dog in a 3 mile radius. So we scrapped the retrieval portion of the mission.

Thursday we continued where we left off, though, this time just after 9 PM. It was a no-BS mission. We prepared for every contingency – we had a story for the cops, a line for the neighbors, etc. Then, with Navy Seal like precision, we executed – the mark, 3 nice big sheets of plywood! Mission: Success.

Work was dead Friday, except for me, since I had to be there while the payroll peeps finished up. While most were off or out early on Friday, I was there til after 8. I left midday to deal with the plywood. About 3 screws in, BJ’s concrete drill bit went sour, and we needed a new one. Our neighbor’s bit was worn out too, so we went to Home Depot. They were closed. Closed! Panic was setting in across the state, and everything was closing down. Lowe’s had bits, but no concrete ones. We bought a Titanium bit, which we’d later find was able to drill exactly ZERO holes successfully into the block. So BJ’s dad brought out his bit, and we got the plywood up. Finally, prepped as best as we could be, we packed up and headed out.

Unlike Charley, who kicked our collective ass over the course of two hours or so, Frances was the most boring let down ever. Deltona, with its 1950s above ground power structure was a sure shot to lose power, so we huffed it to Danielle’s after jam-packing everything we owned into the garage (BJ’s bike was in the kitchen covered in flannel sheets). I stole a power supply from work that is made to keep our servers running, figuring if it got bad, we’d have light, a fan, and maybe a radio or small TV. Then the fun began.

Grandpa Al called to tell me he lost power at 7:30 AM on Saturday. “Damn,” says I, “it’s-a comin’ this a-way!” But alas, all that came this way was rain. By Saturday afternoon it was breezy enough, I suppose, but nothing notable. The news told us that Frances had slowed to 2 miles per hour. Bad news, as that meant it would just dump rain all over us for hours. New forecast: 9 to 12 inches. 9 to 12 inches!? (I’ll skip the obvious jokes.) The fact remains that 9-12 inches is a ridiculous amount of rain, and there’s simply no way for Central FL to absorb that much rain without flooding everything, everywhere. As Frances inched closer, seemingly by the nanometer, we saw our first gusts of strong wind. The mandatory curfews kicked in. Everything had closed down. Shelters closed their gates. We were officially LOCKED IN.

Part II: The Storm

So there we were: BJ, Danielle, Danielle’s Mom, Dad and twin brothers, Keely and I. We watched movies. We played poker. We drank beer. Danielle’s mom made ribs and potatoes. It was kind of exciting. We watched the weather over and over and over and over and got more and more worried about what was coming. The storm stretched out about 360 miles, and there just didn’t seem to be a way it couldn’t hit us. I plugged in the power supply, preparing to ration the little power we’d have once the lines snapped.

Finally, even as Frances got dangerously close, we still only saw semi-strong gusts. Sunday night after midnight the winds picked up. I’d estimate that the winds reached maybe 50 mph or so. It was consistently blowing 30-35 or so, which is only notable during a
hurricane. The rest of the time, it’s what’s called a “windy day.” By this time, having been cooped up for some time, we started getting stir crazy. Several movies in and it became more convenient to sleep longer, since there was nothing to do. We all agreed that perhaps a tree smashing through the window would at least validate all the work and prep and stress that went into this.

Fast forward to the end of our lock up, no real damage and no real excitement. What a bust.

Part III: The Aftermath

Upon return to Deltona, we found a different scene. Again, no power, even along the major intersections. This time, again, tree after tree tossed about like broccoli spears on a plate. Without fail, we were powerless, and this time, there was some damage. Shingles everywhere, all but ensuring that the roof would need replacement. With the 5 day forecast calling for thundershowers everyday, we needed to cover it. So we hopped up on the roof with some visqueen and a huge tarp. Right on cue, the black clouds rolled in and dumped bucketfuls of water onto us as we squeaked across the roof with our staple guns and hammers. We rushed to finish the temporary patch job before the lightning of the after-storm began.

Then came the all too familiar next step – the emptying of the fridge and freezer. Since we had prepared for this and taken our ice cream, as well as buckled for the task much sooner than last time, we went in face first. It was easy this time. We packed up cold stuff, ditched the stuff we wouldn’t eat, and ran with it.

The cleanup sucked – there was a lot to be done, and unfortunately, too few people to do it. Arriving at work, I found no phones, no
internet. As Bell South and Sprint and the other telcos worked to get 911 and other emergency services back online, we sat patiently. Finally phones came back up, and then our frame relay lines, but still no e-mail, at work or at home. All week long power was coming online, schools were reopening, and things were getting back to normal. News came that Deltona had lost something like 22 or it’s 25 power feeder lines, which didn’t bode well. Yesterday I worked 14 1/2 hours, staying late until almost 10 PM with the Sprint guys trying to figure out why our internet connection wouldn’t work. When we got it back up, I checked my e-mail for the first time in what felt like ages and had an ungodly amount of e-mail. Our website was down just over a week, our e-mail was down long enough to let the usual timeout period on e-mails expire… thrice over.

Tonight I’ll get to sleep in my bed, thank God, and I can finally watch TV with TiVO again, thank God (live TV is for suckers!). The windows are still boarded up just in case Ivan does come through.

By the way – check out the hurricane name list. Gaston? Ivan? Karl? Isis? Javier? So damn PC. Can’t we go back to good old American names? Must we give the storms that rip America apart the names of immigrants? Is that helping to quell the rampant xenophobia in post-Iraq occupation America? Whatever.

Anyway, all is safe and well here. We’re mostly back to normal and… alive.

Tagged

F You, Frances

Has anyone ever blogged a hurricane? I wonder.

Every damn house is boarded up. Home Depots are all closed. Everywhere is sold out of water, ice, plywood, drill bits, essentially everything you’d need.

This is crazy.

Tagged

Funny sound: Jija

Murricane, shmurricane, double burricane, I hate hurricane!

I’m sick of this bullshite. Charley kicked our collective arse, and now Frances is going to do the same? Lame! It’s been hurricane fever here for days, and now we’re just finally getting to the outer-outer-outer-edge of the outer-outer-outer-rim of it.

More when I’m not a wee bit nutzoid.

Tagged

Adventure, Excitement. The Jedi craves not these things.

Met K last night. That’s the big news (I mean, there’s other kinda big news, but this is the big news to me). She’s about as gorgeous as I had hoped, and I had a good time with her, despite it being kinda weird to just hang out in her car. I hope we get a chance to hang out again soon as really see if we’re as compatible as I think. I’m just so taken by her, and I want to find out why.

Oh, hey — by the way — how about that Hurricane Charley? That f**ker ripped through and took away my power. And I’m very tired now, mostly from getting half-quality night’s sleeps on Danielle’s couch and seating my arse off during the days in Deltona. The damn state looks like a friggin war zone and frankly, it’s getting annoying. It’s time for the damn power to be restored.

Speaking of which, the lines came back up here at work just recently. This is good news.

Ok, back to the cleanup.

Tagged ,