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Disaster & Recovery




HURRICANE REPORT Report #3 (October, 2004)

Hurricane Frances: The Aftermath
September 5 - 6, 2004

September 5 , 2004 (Sunday afternoon): It was impossible to attend church on Sunday morning, as there was a curfew in place and we were in the midst of a hurricane. In our case, because the night was so tumultuous, most of us spent the morning sleeping during the high winds.

By noon or so, the winds had lowered to an extent that it was possible to get out and survey the damage. Below is a picture report of what we saw.


Hurricane Francis: Preparation and Experience

Aug. 30-Sep. 5, 2004

Hurricane Francis: Aftermath

Sep. 5-6, 2004

Hurricane Ivan: Preparation

Sep. 7-23, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne: The Actual Hurricane Experience

Sep. 23-26, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne: Aftermath

Sep. 26-Oct. 4, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne: Clean-Up

Oct. 5-present

Coping with Trial : September 2004 Newsletter with Hurricane Report and Devotional


The Park Lateral Canal that drains the town of Fellsmere, runs by our property on the western side before teeing into the Main Canal (see previous canal picture in report #2). Hurricane Frances, for some reason, did not dump as much rain as had been predicted, but even as is, the canal is up about 10-15 feet above normal, though still about 10-15 feet from overflowing.

The same Park Lateral Canal going under the 122nd St. bridge. Our driveway is just to the left of the grass in this picture and parallels this canal. While the water is definitely high, it is not as high as we have seen it. During the next day it will rise slightly and then lower. The major concern is that trees or other debris will get stuck on the supports for the bridge and cause a blockage of the canal. This bridge is the first inspection point immediately after the hurricane, since blockage of it will constrict the flow of drainage and cause Fellsmere to flood. The bridge was doing fine.


The first thing we noticed was our favorite "strawberry tree" (it has a little blueberry size red color fruit with strawberry seeds inside) had been blown over onto the house. Providentially, God had spared the tree since it was not fully uprooted. We have since cut down the tree about three feet off the ground, used the tractor to pull it upright, and then covered the roots with dirt and pine needs for mulch. It appeared to be restarting for awhile, but finally died. I guess trees suffer stress as well. Thankfully, no significant damage was done to the roof or the window into which it was slammed by the wind other than it ripped out some guttering.


Far more serious was the near miss that we had next to our storage shed. You will notice the huge top of a tree that feel just inches away from our carport and a few feet away from the shed. This came from an oak tree behind the shed which cannot be seen in this picture. Notice also the huge pine tree leaning towards the shed at the right of the picture. This was later removed (see below) at the expense of the carport, but to the saving of the shed.

Even more precarious was the number of big branches which came down from the 90 year old pine tree next to the north side of the Donnan house. Notice the debris in the yard. There is more on the roof not pictured.


This is what is left of the tree seen in the picture to the right. It has totally lost its beauty and has several large branches still hanging precariously in it. This will need to be removed..

While not a terrible loss, it is always a bit heartbreaking to see something you have spent time cultivating blown irretrievably over. Here are two plantain trees, perhaps about a year old with an unripe bunch of plantain on them.


Several banana plants likewise "bit the dust" in another grove.

Adjacent to our pond, another "strawberry tree" was toppled. It has likewise been cut about three feet from the ground and straightened back up and like the other behind our house, now appears to have died.

Next to our front office, my wife's favorite "Sunshine Tree" (actually a giant croton that can get up to about 25 feet tall) was toppled (center left) and a 12 ft. mango tree (center right) was flattened. Both were cut back to a severely and uprighted and are regrowing well.

Not pictured above were the number of chickens and three goats that died during the storm on the Card farm. But, even in this area, the Lord dealt graciously with us, since our neighbor lost an adult cow (far greater value).

One of the first things we did after checking our property and structures was that I climbed up to the roof to remove the debris that was clogging the gutters so as to allow the water to pass instead of overflowing into our screened enclosure and pool. This was a little tricky in the wind, which was now down to manageable speeds, but made a huge difference in the drainage as continuing bands of rain were passing through.

The next matter that we addressed was that of power. Neither electricity, phone lines or cell phones were working. By God's grace, we were able to communicate with some difficulty to our son who had evacuated to Tampa (where the hurricane was headed) by our Nextel walkie-talkie feature (the regular cell part would not work because the cell towers were damaged). We asked him to call a few key relatives who we knew would be worrying. Shortly after that, we could not communicate until Monday.

The generator was now going to be put to the test. This had been removed from our old motorhome and placed upon a dolly cart with a boat tank and battery. It was set up on front part of the Donnan entrance area. Praise God, it worked, though we had some difficulties with it over the next few days, which again, by God's grace, we were able to get repaired. Since we did not get it working until later Sunday afternoon, we were already noticing water dripping from our refrigerator freezers as ice melted. Once it was working, we were able to easily provide for two refrigerators, one freezer, and some lights and the TV. By God's grace, the satellite dish for the TV was not damaged, and we were able to quickly assess what was happening in the outside world. We also checked and saw that our internet satellite dish was still in tact, so hoped that we would be able to have outside communication at least through email when we opened up the office on Monday.

In the evening of Sunday, September 5, we had a small family worship service by candlelight and lanterns and sang psalms of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord for the difficult times we had been through and yet how marvelously God had spared both our lives, our buildings and many of our plants. While there was still much damage that we were yet to discover to our forest, our canals and our drainage ditches, compared to what we were hearing and seeing on the TV and radio, we felt very blessed. After that gathering, we all decided that a good nights sleep was very much in order.

September 6 (Monday): While Tropical Storm Frances was now heading up into the panhandle of Florida, the curfews had been lifted during the daytime, so we ventured out to check on a house for our son (who had evacuated to Tampa). In the process, we became aware of the greater extent of the damage in the areas around us. For whatever reason, I did not take pictures of much of it, but the following were taken. BUT, since I remedied that situation after Hurricane Jeanne, I will defer till later on the greater area damage.

To drive north from our property, we had to go up Babcock Road (County Road 507) towards Palm Bay (a little south of Melbourne). This is about 12 miles of country driving through forest and citrus groves. We noticed five or six telephone poles blown down by the wind. Keep in mind, there are no trees around these poles, no leaves on the poles to cause wind resistance, just poles and wire, yet these were blown down by the wind.

A little after the poles, a major electrical transmission line lay across the county highway. Apparently, the wires were not live or police would have blocked the highway, so noticing others safely driving across, we followed suit.

On the way back home, I took pictures of a large ditch (called Ditch 1), which paralleled 122nd St. (our street). Here is a huge oak tree blown over straddling this ditch. The ditch drains into the canals pictured in Report #2

Further down Ditch 1 are Australian pine trees, a soft wood, fast growing pine introduced into Florida for the purpose of providing wind breaks for the citrus groves. They do provide good wind breaks, but if the winds get high enough, they also break in the wind. We will be trying to eliminate these trees from our property, especially near the ditch, since they are a nuisance tree and will eventually choke out the ditch.
The end of the day Monday, with residual bands of the now distant Tropical Storm Frances still lingering, we got our first sun since Friday, September 3. In the U.S., the first Monday of every September is set aside as a holiday called "Labor Day". As we labored most of this day to attempt to make some repairs and unshutter some of our windows, it was a fitting end to Hurricane Frances for us that the sun should return and remind us of the brightness and goodness of God's grace which had seen us through the storm and would see us through the coming days of cleanup and adjustment to life without normal electricity or phone service.

The scene above is looking west from the RCM property across the canal.

Go to the Report #4 by clicking below:

Preparation -- September 7-13, 2004

Copyright 2004
Reformation Christian Ministries
13950 - 122nd Street, Fellsmere, FL 32948-6411
PH: (772) 571-8030 FAX: (772) 571-8010


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