Thursday, September 24, 2009
Jimena (Thursday, 9 AM): After the Storm
But all the boats are still here. In fact, with few exceptions, the boats sustained no major damage. The marina itself is clean, washed by over a foot of rainfall of even its usual patina of dust and bird shit. We feel like a clean island in a sea of sticky dark mud.
Don Quixote is untouched. I can hardly believe it. I’ve checked each line, each fender. I’ve looked in the bilge and started the engines. No damage. It almost seems selfish to feel so gleeful, but we’re here. We’re afloat. We’re okay. Well, we’re wet. All three cabin hatches leaked, and we had water pouring in through the port winch as well as in the port front hatch. I caught a good fraction of it in bowls or buckets and the rest is drying rapidly. We should be able to move back on tonight, sleep in our own beds for the first time in nearly two months.
Ironically, the worst damage we sustained during the storm was self-inflicted. Leaving Dulci on the boat the first few hours of the storm was a mistake. She was pissed. She elected to graphically display her displeasure by enacting out the word ‘piss’ on my bed -- an act this cat absolutely never engages in so there is no question of chalking it up to an accident or poor training. I can see her peeing and then dancing on it in a vengeful rage to ensure it would soak all the way through to the mattress. Two blankets, two sheets, two mattress pads thoroughly soaked in cat urine, and a promise from the harbor master that there is no water to the docks for at least 4 weeks, no laundry for the same. In desperation, I went out and caught two large buckets of rain water, filled one with soap and bleach, and started the process of detoxifying the vile mess. For the first rinse, I laid the bedding out flat on the marina patio and let the rain just soak on it for an hour.
Alex of Maitairoa and his wife walked into town this morning. Their pictures convinced me that the girls and I will not do so. Mud everywhere, houses and cars buried, favorite spots, tiendas, and stands simply gone. We understand that hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, have lost their homes. It is hard to know how these people will recover, though the evidence of their capacity for doing so surrounds us. A crowd of men descended on the marina parking lot this morning, many half covered in mud from their walk through town. They clambered up on to the earth moving equipment parked here the night before the storm and headed out. It’s only mid-day, and Highway 1 through Rosalia is already clear enough for large equipment and 4-wheel drive, emergency vehicles.
I took the children for a short walk one block to the south. It is too dangerous and the mud far too deep to take them north into town. The drifts of mud are roughly six feet high in that direction. To the south, however, a decorative berm rises high enough above the highway to be clear of mud. We used the walk to talk about hurricanes: what they do to the landscape, how wave action undermines buildings, the sources of landslides, how fast objects can move in a 90 mile per hour wind, how a beach ecosystem changes due to hurricanes and how the shoreline is modifying permanently. We examined pieces of metal thrown from buildings at high speed and embedded in trees, walls and mud. At this point, the kids started looking a bit ashamed of themselves -- and rightfully so. I can’t tell you how many times Joanna had to yell at the kids when they tried to slip outside to ‘look at the storm.’ We also made lists of things required for disaster preparedness: water, food, shovels, gloves, money, wood.
The children were very creative, very thoughtful in their answers. The five of them have been through an amazing experience. It is clear their understanding of how to prepare themselves for a similar event has grown exponentially and in ways that even the littlest -- Aeron and Skylar -- will not likely forget. These are not children who will fail to have an earthquake bag or an emergency medical kit.They have a profound respect for the power of wind and rain now and are probably the only children in Santa Rosalia not dancing in their bare feet in the mud. You only need see one piece of rusted metal poking out of the mud to know that bare feet are a bad idea in this environment.
I haven’t cried yet either. It will hit me, too. Not yet, however, and until it does, I have a lot of work to do. I think I’ll go find another sqeegy.