“BUNKER CENTRAL” #2—SOUTH FLORIDA—SEPTEMBER 8. 2017—WHY I STAYED!

Personally, I believe that establishing a sturdy location, far from the storm surge is perhaps as important as trying to flee, several hundred miles, only to run out of gas, perhaps have an overheated car due to continuous bumper-to-bumper “driving,” and a lack of food, lodging or passable roads.  The linked article, from the Houston Chronicle, reminds me of what happened when many Houston residents fled Hurricane Rita, eight year ago.

The location at a reasonable distance from the initial storm surge is quite evident; however, the degree of security that a particular building—home, public shelter, commercial property—can be difficult to discern.  Since I know nothing of building construction, I am quite happy with a crash course that I received from a couple neighbors, following Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.

As it turns out, they were going to one of the hardest hit areas, just after Andrew, since one of their colleague’s neighborhood was in a shambles.  I went along to help, with our mission being to provide interim roof repairs—plywood, a few struts and tar paper—which would last them until they could get new roofs.  Following major disasters, insurance estimators are completely overloaded!

We were like the cavalry pulling in.  Everyone, but me, was an engineer, and some had expert carpentry skills.  Even I could see that the quality of the damaged roofs, as well as the house plans; which were quite shoddy, and definitely not up to Building Codes.

Since this development was near the bay, the drywall in the homes were ruined, half-way to the ceiling from the storm surge.  Perhaps the plumbing and wiring would need replacement, as well!  The garages sloped downward, probably below sea level at the back, perhaps ruining some cars—but the crabs walking around didn’t seem to mind it. But by far, the most glaring problem was the roofs.

One of the engineers told me that the Building Code required one inch plywood, not the half-inch that the seven or eight ones that I worked on had.  And, the nails in the plywood constantly missed the struts, and a large number of the paper-thin shingles still had the tape on them—meaning that they were not properly affixed to the roofs.  In fact, walking across those roofs felt bouncy, just like walking across a trampoline.  How criminal!

Well, on our ride back home, one engineer who lives around the corner from us, said that, when he and his wife were home-shopping, he went into the attic and noticed that the underlying roof—below he tar paper and tile—was tongue-and-groove lumber.  He said that he whispered to his wife that, if she wanted to, she should buy the house.  Additionally, the gabled shape deflects the wind somewhat.

So, I’ll take the reasonable sturdiness of our home, as compared to taking our chances, and possibly getting stranded on one of Florida’s few major North-South highways.  That’s another problem for an attempted evacuation is that it would take 400 miles just to leave Florida and, then, Georgia is also preparing for evacuations, and dealing with shortages, as well. “Tongue-and-Groove,” by the way, means the edges of the alternating individual pieces of lumber are concave and convex shaped, so as to inter-lock—further strengthening the entire roof.

Now, the only remaining challenge is to keep everyone in the house loose.  Stay tuned!

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  1. #1 by Doug (FPS/DougLite.com) on September 8, 2017 - 8:45 PM

    My friend… I wish you and your family well and hope you remain unscathed, have your survival needs at-the-ready and sufficient for the long haul. I wish that for the many that decide to stay. Interesting how varied the reasons are.. and the age demographics.

    BUT… I have witnessed all the nation’s hurricanes in the last 60 years from the safety of never having lived for any great time in vulnerable areas. Given the amazing technology over the years where we now have the ability to forecast and predict where these things will strike and their strength days well in advance, I can never understand the trade-off one makes, especially with their entire family, to risk death. Given the advance notice, I fail to understand your decision to stay and risk your life and others with you.. simply because of avoiding a 400 mile traffic jam you could have avoided had you acted earlier, rather than trying to use building codes as a justification to stay. Your building codes may help meeting the wind head on but will likely not save you from the flooding.

    I feel no one realizes this yet.. but Florida being a peninsula, is not going to recover quickly at all. This storm is going straight up the state… destroying everything and anything that can be used to rescue anyone after. This means all help and rescue must come from the north, and travel down through a messed up infrastructure. This could easily be way more than 72 hours before any supplies get to the bottom of the state. Everything, has to travel back down through the state for relief.

    Again, while I feel your decision to stay is arrogant against the power of nature and unnecessarily risks your life and those around you for no damn good reason… I do wish you luck and the prayers to the Almighty that you and yours get to survive unharmed. Hopefully your stories of survival will discourage others from staying in future storms.

    Keep your head down.

    • #2 by cheekos on September 9, 2017 - 1:35 AM

      Doug, thanks for the wishes of good luck and safety; however, Donald, I fail to see how you can assume to suggest alternative courses of action for people who might better understand the situation–first hand, rather than from newspapers and TV. I believe that, in my two recent posts, I have differentiated between “acceptable risks and “uncertain risk”. Did you read them? Did you understand them?

      About an hour ago, my wife received a call from a close friend who lives a mile away. At the last moment, she and her husband decided to listen to their son’s pleas and drove to Ocala, Fla.–at a higher elevation, and toward the northwestern portion of Florid. And, assumably out of Irma’s projected path, was along the eastern coast. The four hour trip took ten hours, and then, they learned that Hurricane Irma’s projected path is currently expected to be toward the western coast of Florida.

      Donald, I make decisions rationally, and only after having some understanding of what is fact, and what is fiction! Others make them, based on emotion. I PREFER MY WAY!

      • #3 by Doug on September 9, 2017 - 1:57 AM

        My name’s not Donald.. you’re confusing me with that guy in the White House. 😛 I’ll presume it’s your excitement of the moment down there.
        This is no time to debate decisions being made that might be life & death. You’re right.. I am not there. We all do what we can with what we have. Hunker down and stay safe.

      • #4 by cheekos on September 13, 2017 - 4:52 PM

        Doug, trust those who know the facts–distance from the shore. solid house and roof, experience in preparation–to understand the actual situation ON THE GROUND. In fact, believe it or not, the Miami Herald reported that the actual wind speed, for Miami-Dade and Broward (GFt. Lauderdale) Counties, did’t even qualify as a hurricane–just a very intense tropical; storm.

        So, Doug, ride the canes out however far away you are you are; but, remember what Will Rogers once supposedly said: “All I know is what I read ion the newspapers.”

        OK. So, its back to Doug.

      • #5 by Doug (FPS/DougLite.com) on September 13, 2017 - 7:46 PM

        Glad you are ok.

    • #6 by cheekos on September 12, 2017 - 10:42 AM

      To my “friend”, who wished me luck and prayers–before calling me arrogant–I wanted to let him know how we faired, as Hurricane Irma shifted from the East Coast of Florida to the West. As I noted in the “Why I Stayed” post, we live eight to ten miles from the coastline, away from any low-lying areas, and in a home that truly is built like a bunker.

      Yesterday, I did not see any damage, to include any missing barrel tiles, on our home or torts in the neighborhood. Just a bunch off vegetation strewn about, as happens in any tropical storm. Yes, there were a few trees toppled in the area, some malfunctioning traffic lights and well lost power for a couple of days.

      So, for someone who has witnessed many natural disasters FROM AFAR, I would recommend that he defer to people who have lived through them, and assumedly are making educated decisions. Hopefully, if he re-reads my three related blogs, he might sense a detail and insight that isn’t provided in People magazine or FOX “News”.

      In the future, I will refrain from calling him “Donald”, if he thinks again before calling me arrogant! By the way, DOUG, many people who fled the East Coast drove over to: Naples; Ft. Myers; Tampa; etc . Smart move eh?

      • #7 by Doug (FPS/DougLite.com) on September 12, 2017 - 2:55 PM

        I am very glad you did well, cheekos. But I did not call you arrogant.. I called your decision such. I might suggest before you thump your chest at somehow beating nature or knowing more than all those telling you to leave, you were likely spared because of chance, fate, divine intervention, or whatever. The UNPREDICTABILITY of that storm is why folks were asked to leave. I doubt it was knowledge of building codes that allowed you to dodge a bullet.
        BUT… it’s over.. you and your’s are doing fine and that’s absolutely all that matters now. I’m far more glad for your safety than any opinion for your original decision. Life is wonderful.

  2. #8 by cheekos on September 9, 2017 - 2:06 AM

    Doug, when it talks like a Donald, it’s a Donald! I knew exactly what I was writing. I just thought that, perhaps, it would draw your attention to the uncertainties–of both life and hurricanes. Keep up on Irma’s path on the National Hurricane Center, in Miami-Dade. Once Irma’s gone, you can revert back to Doug. HA!

    • #9 by Donald (FPS/DonaldLite.com) on September 9, 2017 - 8:29 AM

      Hehe.. go for it, man. I’ll be watching for your triumphant return.

      • #10 by cheekos on September 9, 2017 - 11:24 AM

        “Donald” (OK), there is nothing triumphal about making a rational decision, and acting on it. You really ought to try it sometime!

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