From the NOAA satellite images we were pretty optimistic. The roof looked intact. Couldn't tell if water had gotten close. The palm trees were still standing. Yes, I'm an eternal optimist.
I think there is a saying about "first had experience" or similar. Must be what I experienced yesterday when standing at the glass front door of Sea & Soul at 106 Reid, the main business street in Port St Joe, FL. Why was the super cute pirate treasure chest box visible on the other side of the door? It's supposed to be in the back corner. Whoa! That mid century modern vase did not belong on the floor.
Opening the door presented its own challenge as the driving rain and wind appears to have kicked a little salt everywhere, including locks. Luckily, no keys were broken, unlike 80% of the pines trees in the area.
Once inside, you can imagine the smell of days old bay water saturated in flooring and any other absorbent materials within 18 inches of the baseboards. If you can't imagine it - think of really old socks that belong to a teenage boy, that's an athlete, that haven't been washed in several weeks, that have been wet with shrimp infused water for 4 days with no ventilation. Disgusting, but accurate.
While my husband and brother-in-law check the structure, my sister and I remove my fine art paintings and Mermaid Sand books to the car. The likelihood of Port St Joe not having power for weeks means we need to move merchandise out. But we have already spent the day in Mexico Beach, helping previously mentioned sister and spouse secure their house. Theirs is still standing but has limbs sticking through ceilings and skylights blown to bits. So doing more will have to wait because we are already pushing the dusk part of the "dusk-to-dawn" curfew.
Squishing our way outside with the final armfuls we start talking about moving the merchandise to PODS or inland to Tallahassee. That wet, roller coaster wet floor is going to do nothing but get worse. And the displays need to be aired out and repaired. And the ones that sit on the floor will need to be replaced. And, And, And...
Forward 8 hours:
This morning dawned bright and clear at our home in Tallahassee. Sister and hubby are staying with us for the duration - Mexico Beach will be even longer without power and water. We have both here thanks to the hard work of lineman getting us back up and going in only 3 days.
The breakfast conversation held more questions than answers. Do we continue through with plans to purchase the building and property in Port St Joe? If so, will the current owner take care of the floors before purchase? If not, should we do that or accelerate our plans to build a two story combo of shop and residence? I can't even begin to imagine the questions other business owners have in mind when looking at total structure failure and catastrophic water damage.
I'm lucky. My family is safe and my main job of digital marketing and business growth is not geographically based. If I have my laptop and an internet connection I'm able working. But most others along the panhandle ARE dependent on local businesses. My sister helps out locally in Port St Joe. My brother-in-law is retired but has an active seat on the Mexico Beach City Council. Now, that will certainly be an interesting job for the coming little while.
Ever since managing a story on an ICF home in Carrabelle Florida I have been fascinated with the idea of building one of my own. Basic info is here on Wikipedia. And the results of what it means to build with concrete forms can be found in this article highlighting one of the few homes still standing in my hometown of Mexico Beach. NYTimes article on the one that made it.
My previous blog post talked about "being in the moment" and I'm still doing that as much as possible. Right now, no major decisions are being made. I've contacted the insurance company and will see what they have to say in their response. My sister and hubby are back down in Mexico Beach doing what they can to remove limbs impaling the roof for a temporary fix before rain. The brother in law is at a council meeting. And I'm home watching the animals while working (it's more like they are watching me for any movement toward the treat jar.)
I can tell you that people in Mexico Beach, Port St Joe Beach, Beacon Hill, Highland View and Port St Joe are desperate for things like gas, food, generators...look to Facebook to connect with the local pages. That if/when we do build the store/home combo it will be ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) or similar. And I am unsure if my hometown will ever look like home again. But I do believe with the spirit of the area, people will rebuild and make it something even brighter than before.
If you have evacuated and have access online, go here to apply for FEMA assistance: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/
If you are heading back in for the day or have a way to get this info on location of assistance sites to those without cell service: https://www.floridadisaster.org/info/
Thank you to Libby Rehm for assistance in research and support. Libby rocks!
Interested in staying in touch? I don't spam - heck, I only post or email when really prompted by the need to share information or inspiration. So the usual...fill in the form and be sure to open and click the link in the email you will get confirming you signed up. Welcome to the family!
Sea & Soul Gifts | Mermaid's Canvas Painting Parties | Mermaid Sand
Thank you for your support, Marjorie Schoelles
Sitting in my home in Tallahassee, watching online updates and listening to the radio reports of Hurricane Michael, reminds me of what I tell people during our painting parties. “Be in the moment.”
Being in the moment means releasing the worry of what “might be.” In creativity, it’s releasing the attachment to the outcome. Trusting that what is happening will work out – even if it’s not what you originally planned.
No matter what I sit here and think, worry or talk about – it’s not going to change the outcome of whether my store Sea & Soul Gifts will be standing after landfall. It’s comforting to see updates by friends on Facebook of their safety – much better than when I was growing up and didn’t know how things fared until returning from evacuation. I am so grateful for the information while trying really hard to not be overwhelmed by the magnitude and out-of-depth feeling of the situation. It reminds me of some painters I have seen tense up to the point where every brushstroke is a chore.
Yes, I realize painting may seem an inappropriate comparison to the strain and upcoming impact of Hurricane Michael. But think on the concept of being in the moment. There will be times in the coming days, weeks and months where folks would have contacted the insurance companies, sorted through what is left and be struggling with next steps. We will need a break, a few moments to think of nothing but a cool breeze, cooking a favorite dish or creating something of beauty. It’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised – keeping us from always being on edge – giving us the opportunity to breath, think and act on a single moment in time, for however it lasts.
Being in the moment right now means I can concentrate on other things – maybe not as well as on a sunny day, but still better than being glued to media. Staying informed is great – being at the emotional mercy of what you cannot control is destructive.
My greatest hope is that people are safe, animals are sheltered, and our lives will be minimally impacted by what is turning out to be the strongest storm in this area in the last 100 years. Whatever does happen, be safe. Take moments to rest. Accept help when offered. Offer help when able. And if it all becomes too much, step back and take time to “be in the moment.” It’s a sure sanity saver.
Yes, that’s right, we have a new location. We relocated to 106 Reid Ave, across the street and about 3 store fronts down from the previous location inside The Loft. And best of all…We have our own freestanding location with our own business named Sea & Soul. Like before the painting parties are located inside, still scheduled and promoted under the Mermaid’s Canvas name. It’s so exciting. Look for this logo on the window and come inside to check out the gifts, art and jewelry we have ready for new homes. *hint*
Check out our upcoming parties on our home page and text or call me with any questions. Marjorie 850.294.9995
And for more information on our gift shop like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Sea-and-Soul-Gifts
When I think about Earth Day I think about the potential we have to make a difference every single day. And I also think about the amount of waste that goes into landfills weekly - or worse - what is dumped in the waters of earth.
Imagine being a turtle swimming, being tangled in netting. This photo is from SeaTurtles.org
And then there are those that are meant to make a difference like 22 year old Boyan Slat, founder of Ocean Cleanup with the goal of removing 154 million pounds of trash from the ocean over the next 10 years. Read more here!
It's easy to be discouraged by the news and negative social postings. But ask yourself "what good does it do to be drug down?" Instead, concentrate on what CAN be done - no matter how small.
If I were a mermaid I think it would be a full time job protecting the oceans - so as a land mermaid I'll do what I can to help, no matter how small it may seem, every effort matters!
All the Best, Marjorie