Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Well, we're in Florida now, waiting Irene out in West Palm Beach. The hurricane, which apparently is a Cat 3 now, as expected, is veering East a bit, and Florida is no longer worried about a direct hit, which is good news. They would have moved us if it was coming to us, but I'm relieved we won't have to do that. Once was enough.

As for getting out, that was a big process. Every thing seemed kind of disorganized. We got a call on Monday night that the boys and I were on the first C-130 flight and needed to show up at 0930 at the base theatre to register. No word on what we needed to bring, or anything else.

So, I dutifully showed up, sans luggage because I didn't want to walk it over (Oliver was working, and had the car, and wasn't able to get out to take us beforehand - it's not a long walk at all, takes maybe three minutes, but I'm still sick so I just left it because the flight wasn't supposed to be until 1100). When I got there, they began giving instructions and told us we had to have our evac form, which we would show as we went thought the line, culminating in checking in the luggage I didn't have with me. I knew nothing about the paperwork, nor who to ask about it.

So, I left the boys with a friend who was also supposed to be on the flight with her boys, ran home to get the luggage and call Oliver about the form. He told me he'd come pick me up with the bags, and tried to figure out what this form was. He didn't have any luck, but when we came back to the theatre with our bags, we finally saw someone in uniform (most of the people here are working for the civilian contractor, so they had their own forms and their own procedures for money etc. than we do). He had all the forms, so I picked up ours and sat down to wait while Oliver went back to work.

My friend and I decided to not get in line right away because it got huge almost instantly and we had four young kids between us. After about an hour, though, we noticed that new people kept coming in and getting in line. Clearly, it was not at all about who was supposedly on this first flight, and was turning into a bit of a free-for-all.

To make a long story short, after talking to someone handling the processing, we were able to just wait it out in our seats until the next C-130. The first one filled and left, and then they had a couple flights on our normal plane, which seats 19. They actually offered my friend and I seats on the AUTAC plane, but we wanted to fly on the C-130. We knew our boys would love it, and hey, these kinds of opportunities don't come around every day. For me, too, there was the hope that Oliver would be free to go and get out with us, which is what ended up happening.

It took about five hours, but we did get out on the second C-130, and Oliver went with us. He finished what he had to just in time. Considering how stressed out and ill I was feeling at that point, that was a huge blessing.

We took with us a suitcase, two duffel bags, and four backpacks, just under 150 pounds of baggage. Here's the curious thing about that - I am exceptionally aware right now of just what we need to restart our life if the worst case happened and everything we own was gone. Turns out, it's a whole lot less than you'd think. The digital age has made this so much easier, too - the desktop we had to leave behind, I dumped all the photos, home videos, and music onto my IPOD. What was left went onto a flash drive, and then I backed up Itunes onto a couple DVDs (since our desktop is where I always sync the IPOD). That stuff takes up no space to carry.

Then we have our binder with important docs, like birth certificates, and a couple folders with investment info, taxes, and other miscellaneous paperwork. The boys carried their prized, most loved possessions, including a gallon bag of LEGOs (a small fraction of what they own, but enough to keep them happy). There are other things, too, obviously, like clothing and passports, the camera, and a few books to keep us busy.

There are things we left behind that I will be sad to lose, but overall, they are very few. Everything else is replaceable, and it's insured. The car will actually be the biggest loss because we have to carry Banhamian insurance on it, and it only covers damage you might cause to someone or something. It's an 8 year old car, but we were hoping to hang onto it for while longer and use it as a commuter car for Oliver when we buy a new family car next year. That will be our most painful financial hit.

Maybe it's all the moving I've done in my adult life (our six years in Washington was the longest I'd lived anywhere since I was 18), but I am realizing just how not attached to things I am. Oliver is the same way. Ultimately, that's probably the biggest factor in our deciding to stay in the Navy - we are experience junkies, and we don't care about stuff. Owning a house sometimes seems appealing, but it also seems like a financial albatross and something that will kill our mobility. By staying in the Navy, we get to keep moving, and we get to do some crazy stuff, like board that C-130 and have a flying experience unlike any we've ever had before (I've got some good pics, but seem to have forgotten the cord for the camera, and our laptop weirdly has no card reader, so I'll have to upload them later). The retirement is pretty appealing on many levels, but after the latest attack on that, I am no longer positive it will still be there when we finish his twenty years. So, if we stay, we have to stay for other reasons.

Anyway, this is getting longer and longer. If you managed to keep reading, bravo to you! Clearly, I am just sitting in a hotel room with nothing to do but watch storm radar as Irene slowly advances through the islands. The waiting game is no fun.

2 sonar pings:

sues2u2 said...

I'm really glad to hear that you guys made it out safely. Are you feeling better? I understand exactly what you mean about the things you left. We have a 2400 sq ft house filled to bursting but when push came to shove there were really only a few things I/we really wanted/needed. Yes, it was wonderful to come back & still have our stuff but pix, documents & most importantly, us, were what counted.

Really, really glad you don't have to evac again. Believe me when I tell you it kinda bites. Stay safe & keep the updates coming. Oh, we forgot cords to a couple of thing too. Kinda funny.

KK said...

I'm glad you all made it out safe. As strange as it sounds, I think of you when I see it moving over where you live. We are going to be hit here, how bad is still up in the air, but we most likly will not be evacuated.

I hope everything turns out ok and you don't lose anything.