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  • Vincit Omnia Veritas posted an update 3 years, 1 month ago

    Dear friends,

    As I write this, I’m directly in the path of a major hurricane that’s headed this way, so the next few days could be rather… well, interesting, if not downright dangerous.

    Hurricane Irma is expected to hit this island tomorrow (Tuesday) night. It’s currently Monday night, and it’s strangely calm before the storm. It stopped raining, it’s quiet, no wind, hardly any clouds. You wouldn’t tell a major shitstorm is around the corner.

    I was listening to the radio, because Irma is currently the talk of the island, and in the late afternoon, they said Irma was 500 miles east of us, and was moving at 14 mph due west. It is said to be following the same path Hurricane Hugo followed in 1989. Hugo shifted slightly north of due west, causing Dominica to be only hit with its side bands, which were destructive enough, but nowhere near as destructive as its eye.

    However, Irma is a massive and powerful hurricane so even if it changes its course and we only get hit with the side bands as with Hugo, the island will still be severely impacted. There is just no way around it. Hurricane Irma is a monster.

    Today, people all around me were cutting branches close to their houses, stocking up in drinking water and non perishable foods. I saw people disconnecting propane gas tanks, turning off the gas and putting the tanks flat on the ground sandwiched between blocks or stones.

    Ziploc type plastic bags were flying off the shelves today and I was told by sales people that roofs of houses, if not the entire houses, are likely to get damaged, so sealing important documents became essential. People are also using these to make ice, because the power is likely to go out and could be out for days, depending on the damage to the infrastructure, so by having blocks of ice in freezers, people expect to be able to keep foods refrigerated for up to a week.

    I also saw people hauling stones into their homes, to raise furniture and put it on top of these stones to protect them from water damage.

    Irma is now a category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds blowing at 130 mph. In other words, this is a major monster hurricane already and is strengthening every day. Late last week the wind speed was 110 mph. Yesterday they said it was 120, and today up to 130. Because Irma is big, its outer bands are expected to bring heavy rains at night tonight. As the eye gets closer toward the end of Tuesday, unless Irma changes its path, shit is gonna hit the fan for me. I will likely be without power and internet for a few days. Two years ago when Erica struck, the power was down for 5 days. Last year, when I was here, Hurricane Matthew knocked power out for 3 days. But those hurricanes were dwarfs compared to Irma.

    I’m in a somewhat safe area. I moved to the Caribbean side for the hurricane season and whereas all storms arrive from the Atlantic, the Caribbean side sees far less precipitation, and because I’m not too far from the capital, if the power gets knocked out, this area will be among the first to have it restored.

    The house I’m in never got flooded in previous hurricanes, as it’s on a bit of flat ground in the valley carved by the river around which the capital city was built, so even if the river spills over, it has a large plane to fill up before it reaches my house. There are hills all around me, but I seem to be reasonably far to not get buried by a landslide. About 50m from one side, and about 100 from the other. This is as far from the hills as it gets in mountainous Dominica.

    Irma could be much more devastating than Erica 2 years ago, from which the country still has not fully recovered. It’s gonna get interesting. Meanwhile, the way it’s all quiet all around me right now is frigging scary. Never experienced the island being this quiet. People are also quiet. Everybody’s hunkered down, barricaded inside their house – scares the living shit out of me.

    But the worst thing is – the whole island is normally louder than any place in the world I’ve been to, and I’ve traveled around, with the endless cacophony of sounds made by insects like cicadas, crickets, but also lizards, jungle bugs, and whatever else. I actually like the sound because it provides an uninterrupted white noise for the night. But right now, for the first time in over a year of me living here, all the creatures of the rainforest went eerily quiet. Nobody peeps. There is nothing. If there was no river behind my house making the flowing water noise, you could hear your own blood flow.

    Fingers crossed it won’t be as bad as it looks, however come tomorrow night, Best Gore may go quiet and may stay quiet for a few days. Hopefully it won’t be weeks. Wish me luck.

    Mark