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HURRICANE REPORT Report #4 (October, 2004)

Hurricane Ivan: Preparation
September 7 - 23, 2004

Because the forecasters were now alerted to the prospect of multiple hurricanes, they were informing us that we might be facing yet another hurricane within the next two weeks. "Ivan the Terrible" as it was called.


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


For this reason, we limited the removal of shutters from windows and doors, providing ourselves enough air to give us some coolness (since we had no air conditioning), but also avoiding the difficult task of taking down shutters, only to have to put them up again (something we would do anyway).

Because Ivan had already begun to cause damage in the Caribbean area, and was also a very powerful storm, we quickly assessed the danger to our structures if a yet more powerful storm came our way. Given the weather forecasters projections that Florida was a possible target for Ivan, we decided that we needed to eliminate the threat of four major trees. We never would have taken them down for Hurricane Jeanne because it was never considered much of a threat (at the time). But Ivan, by its mere name and the ominous predictions of the weather forecasters, caused us great concern. Yet this was all part of God's design, because while Ivan did pass us by, we did not know this at the time. And by the time it was clear that Jeanne was clearly doing a very unusual loop in the Atlantic and heading back our way instead of to the mid-Atlantic graveyard for hurricanes, there would have been no time to remove these trees. Consequently, it now seems clear that God used the means of the threat of Hurricane Ivan to get us to do what there would not have been time to do for Hurricane Jeanne, WHICH IN FACT, better prepared us for Hurricane Jeanne, which turned out to be the far worse of the two hurricanes. Oh, how the wonderful providence of God works all things together for the good of His people. We so often wonder what God is doing, but if we will appropriate His grace and believe His promises, He often will give us insight into what He was doing AFTER He has done it. This then gives us faith to face future obstacles.

We figured we had about four days to get ready for what we then thought was a probable hit by Hurricane Ivan "the Terrible". When we first built our house and sheds in 1998 and 2002 respectively, we loved the idea of these huge pine trees sitting next to our house. It looked neat and gave it a real woodsy appearance, as well as a little shade. In 2000 we had a storm which brought down a branch near one of our sheds which destroyed several panels of our car port. We replaced them at the time, but then was when we began to rethink the destructive nature of these beautiful, tall and lofty Southern Yellow Pines.

During our travels to obtain gasoline for our generator after Hurricane Francis, I saw a house that had three pine trees fall on it, which stood nearby. It occurred to me that I did not want this to happen to our house. Furthermore, during Hurricane Frances, we had quite a few branches hitting the roof just above our bedroom. Our hurricane saferoom was just off our bedroom, and while it was improbable that even a full fall right over it would have significantly compromised it, nevertheless, the thought of all the damage was most disconcerting to us. After Frances was done, we looked and the number of branches lost from the two trees next to our house and realized that their beauty had now been replaced with a rather scraggly and ungainly looking set of hurricane monuments. Well proportioned Southern Yellow Pines were much more endearing that hurricane monuments that looked like they could go down with the next storm, so we finally gave into God's "hints" as to what would be the wise thing to do.

Preparing for Hurricane Ivan
After Hurricane Frances, we noticed branches on the roof of our house (left) from the two trees above to the right. They had been quite nice looking and well shaped trees, but as you can see by the closeups below, they had hanging limbs, had lost their shape, and were clearly a threat to the house easily within falling distance away. Of course, you can see the direction the trees were leaning as a result of the wind from Hurricane Frances. Another hurricane would possibly topple them. The question was, could we fell them without them hitting the house.
The tree on the left had lost a few limbs in past storms and was gradually looking rather scary. Furthermore, it was a huge tree as you can see later after it was cut down. It was impossible to get up into it easily to trim the branches, but more importantly, it was within falling distance of the house and could cause a great deal of damage if it were to fall. The tree was about 95 years old, 129 feet tall and only 36 feet away from our house. The tree on the right above was a younger tree (about 55 years), but the same height of the older tree. It was about 45 feet away from the house.  
The tree on the left had lost a few limbs in past storms and was gradually looking rather scary. Furthermore, it was a huge tree as you can see later after it was cut down. It was impossible to get up into it easily to trim the branches, but more importantly, it was within falling distance of the house and could cause a great deal of damage if it were to fall. The tree was about 95 years old, 129 feet tall and only 36 feet away from our house. The tree on the right above was a younger tree (about 55 years), but the same height of the older tree. It was about 45 feet away from the house.
Viewed from the west side before the trees were felled, you can see that some of the branches still hung nearly over the house. Notice all the debris in the yard from Hurricane Frances' damage to the tree. Thankfully, there was no damage to the house from those that had fallen on the roof.
In order to take down these trees, Geoff Donnan climbed on the house and managed to sling a rope over some of the branches in the tree. That enabled a strap to be pulled up and around the tree to tie it off on a tree to keep it from falling on the house. Dave Card's expertise in tree felling brought the first tree right down on target, and away from the house.
The first tree felled was the one furthest away from the house. Dave Card stands rightfully proud of his bringing it down exactly where he intended. The second tree, almost twice as wide as the first one, but the same basic height, went down exactly where it was intended. God was gracious and used Dave's skill to bring this down without even coming close to the house.
This view is taken after both trees were felled. As you can see, we are not at the top of the trees which measured around 130 feet in length. The side-lined inspectors were finally able to come and get a closer look. Samuel Card is standing with Nancy Donnan (Grandma). Sam is looking at the size of the tree and how great it would be to walk on. Nancy is looking to the damage done to the Bouganvilla bushes that were crushed from the felling.





Even little Esther Card was able to watch the goings on with her friend, Raggety Anne. We had no power at this time, so being able to get outside was a treat for all the kids after having been couped up for 3-4 days, during which time there was no electricity.

With the trees closest to the house now safely down, the next challenge was to take those down that threatened the new storage shed we had built in 1998 in which many of the Poettckers, Donnans, Cards and RCM things were stored and next to which RCM and Poettcker cars were parked.

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.


. This eastern view of the trees, shows how close they are to the shed and their leaning in the direction of the shed. The key to cutting them down is both in their strapping them to another tree that will urge them to fall in the right direction, ALONG WITH a proper cutting technique. Dave has gotten very good at this cutting technique.

You can see our house complex on the far left. Straight ahead is our 750 sq. ft. storage shed and one of two carports on both ends. The two trees you can see are perhaps 100 ft. in height and between 20 ft. and 50 ft. away from the shed. This picture is taken from the north side. By taking a look from the eastern side (right picture), you will be able to see how both of those trees are leaning towards the shed. The winds of Huricane Jeanne had come primarily from the north and the shed is to the south of the trees, thus their leaning. (Notice the strap tied to this tree, to help it to fall away from the shed.

We begin with the tree farthest from the shed so that it will provide room for the fall of the tree closest to the shed. Dave has already cut a wedge out of the side towards which he wants it to fall. He is now on the opposite side of the tree, cutting slightly above the lowest cut on the other side in order to provide a hinge which "should" keep the tree from falling anyway other than the direction he wants it to go. That technique, plus the strapping that is winched to another tree in direction we want it to fall, should insure it going down right.

TIMBER: Down goes the third tree, absolutely dead on to the spot on which it is to fall. Dave is really getting good.

Dave poses for Tree #3 down EXACTLY where it was to go. My he was pleased with himself. BUT, now comes the real test on the tree that is closest to any of the structures. Tree #4.

As you can see, this is a very tall tree, and it is definitely leaning towards the shed. It is only perhaps 6 ft. away from the carport. While Dave is taking a break to the left, Geoff is up on top of the roof of the shed slinging a rope up over one of the lowest branches. It was very high, and we only managed to get a rope over the very lowest branch, but that was good enough.

We made this picture a little bigger so you could the strap. Geoff is standing behind the carport on the stack of blocks working the rope from the outside of the limb towards the trunk of the tree. Dave is standing below holding the strap secure.

We got the rope tangled and so Dave had to go up about 20 ft. on the ladder to untangle it, while Geoff holds the ladder stable. We were pretty nervous about this one.


Well, we will cut to the chase. Everything was fine, but the leaning of the tree was a little too much, and the cut by Dave was a little too deep so that the hinge that should have kept the tree from going sideways, did not work. God guided the tree so that all it did was break through a part of the carport, knocking it down. It fell about 6 feet away from the shed, thankfully, causing no damage to it, but destroying the carport. We feel that we got off real easy, and now at least the trees were down. The scary part was that the tree fell exactly in the direction that Dave was running and providentially, he looked up to see me pointing for him to go perpendicular to the direcion of the fall (which he could not see). As it was, he got out of the way just in time to avoid the tree's fall. God was good. Dave was save and the trees were all down.

If you take a close look at the place where the tree was cut, you will notice that the wedge cut was in front. The hinge for the cut was to have helped the tree move in the direction from which the picture was taken. However, because of the lean on the tree (towards the shed) it moved sideways, held only by the strap from falling on the shed. In the process of going sideways, it fell right through the carport which was totally destroyed and will be rebuilt at some point.

There was still a good deal of damage in the oak trees to the left side of the shed. Our next task would be to trim these. They are not as prone to falling and are very pretty trees (sorry, were very pretty). But unlike pines, they grow back.


From tree felling, we went to tree trimming, that is, Geoff went to tree trimming. Dave had things that were "mission critical" in the office, and we had several boys come to work for us who were paid by Sharon Orthodox Presbyterian Church, to help clean up. While they were around, we wanted to get the trees near the shed trimmed. As it worked out, the boys did not offer to go up into the tree, so having done this a number of times before, Geoff went into the tree. After he was done, everyone said it had to be the last time that such an old fellow (60, at the time) should stay out of trees. While trimming the tree pictured below, one overhead branch that was straight overhead (and was the last branch to trim) fell on his head. God's good providence kept it from knocking him out, but it still hurt and he managed to hang onto the chain saw throughout. Nancy had gone into the house, refusing to look because it scared her too much.

Men seem to have to do these things sometimes. It is not a matter of proving anything to anyone, it is just a matter of needing to get the job done.

The next major project to complete was that of pulling the trees that had blown over in the canal. Officially, this was none of our concern, but with one or more hurricanes headed our way, if the debris got caught on these trees and started piling up, we were quite concerned that the canal could overflow into our yard and give us some serious flooding. SO, we contacted the Fellsmere Water Management District and arranged for them to bring out their one piece of heavy equipment, normally used for dredging and pulling sloughing canal sides. BUT, it would also work on pulling trees out of the canal. However, they would need help. So, when we found out we had some extra help coming, we quickly pulled down the fences on the side of the canal (which we intended to take out anyway) and took advantage of the equipment. As it turned out, we got help pulling down the fences, but then it was break time for the helpers, so Geoff had to go down into the canal and take the chain from the bucket and find a way to pull it around the base of the tree. Then he had to come up and get out of the way so that the tree could be pulled up. It was a messy, stinky, sticky job, but men have to do those things sometimes. Once pulled out, the Brazilian Pepper trees were laid upon lawn/road that rings this side of our property until we were able to cut them up. At the time of this writing in November, they are still there.

Brazilian Pepper trees uprooted by Hurricane Frances and laying into the canal ready to catch any debris that would come down when the waters rose again, a given whenever we get hurricanes.

Geoff had to go down and take the chain from the bucket and find a way to get it placed around the base of the tree (often 3-4 ft. in diameter) so the equipment could pull it out. Many of the trees were partially submerged. Spiders, snakes, critters???? He saw none. No alligators either.

Once the chain was secured, Geoff would climb back up the canal wall and get out of the way. Then the machine operator would pull the tree up the 15-20 ft. out of the canal basin.

You will notice the stabelizing feet on the left side of the machine. There are two on the right side as well. These keep it from tipping over under the weight of pulling the trees up and bending so far over the side of the canal wall. However, they leave nice deep square impressions in the soil, all of which need to be filled.

Stacking the trees along side of the canal on our lawn/road, and systematically backing out after each one put these nice square holes all over the road. Nancy says it will make mowing a real bumpy affair. After about 8-10 trees are pulled out, the job is done.

About the time that we were done trimming the oak trees above, and removing these trees from the canal, we saw that Ivan the Terrible was not going to hit us. It was a day by day affair watching it, since it was so very powerful (a category five hurricane), yet the Lord spared us from this one. And YET, remnants of Hurricane Ivan later came back down from the Carolinas and brought tropical storms to the areas of Florida it had missed before heading out to the Gulf and on to the coast of Texas and Louisiana. Wow, what a hurricane season.

As we were completing the trimming of the trees, the word had come that Hurricane Jeanne, a hurricane we had all but forgotten since it had headed back out into the Atlantic, had done a loop and was now headed right for us AGAIN. UGH! We thought with the threat of Ivan over, that we had been by-passed. But this was not to be.


Go to the Report #5 by clicking below:

The actual hurricane experience
September 25-26, 2004

Copyright 2004
Reformation Christian Ministries
13950 - 122nd Street, Fellsmere, FL 32948-6411
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