After the Storm: Hurricane Michael Douses Port St Joe and Area Businesses
Sea & Soul Gifts and Mermaid's Canvas Painting Parties Got a Little Wet from Hurricane Michael's Storm Surge
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!
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Sea & Soul Gifts | Mermaid's Canvas Painting Parties | Mermaid Sand
Thank you for your support, Marjorie Schoelles