A rather windy lady called Fay

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I just "can't believe it" we're still here in Grant at Orbit RV site! Not that we don't like it here but to be honest we should be well on our travels by now, starting with a short trip to Tampa. Let me tell you the story; Firstly we ordered some ultrasonic mosquito repellers (after Betsy's nasty bite whilst up in NH). We were going to leave Friday after the post arrived, well we all know how that story ends, come Saturday and still no post for us so we made plans for Sunday. Route entered into the GPS we made a final check on that tropical storm that had been developing as it passed over Cuba on its way up towards the Keys and Florida - The Keys were being evacuated!!!
The storm was predicted to become a hurricane as it passed over very warm seas, it would cut through the Keys, gaining in windspeed (already 60 mph) as it traveled up just off the west coast making landfall around about the Tampa Bay area :( seemed silly to us to actually drive towards it. We watched every bulletin and prediction of the storm's track that seemed to be more and more regular features on TV, many times breaking into the Olympic coverage to give us updates of the looming hurricane. After hitting land it would back up north on path towards Georgia so staying here until it had passed would be our best option. Sunday became our day of "storm tracking" Keith (site manager) thought we were doing the best thing and gave us a great weather website to watch; www.hamweather.com as well as numerous TV channel weather sites and the US noaa sites, we soaked up info like the dry sponges we are!! Gosh it looked like we were in the safest place - ok what's a day or two in the big scheme of things? Keith handed out the emergency plans for the site, we filled our water tank, emptied the other tanks - went to the supermarket and stocked up on bottled water and provisions - filled the car with gas (you know - American petrol). By now Betsy was more than a bit concerned 'cos even though it didn't look like the impending hurricane would hit us here the consequences elsewhere of floods and power outages meant we may not have electricity or water (it's pumped from a well here). Did I mention that our generator wouldn't start? All this news certainly concentrates the mind - I fixed it - the fault turned out to be a split in the fuel line close to the pump and it was sucking in air instead of that there gas. We were ready.
Impressively, so is Florida, there have been may newsflashes featuring the governor  telling us all of the state disaster plans being put in place and how we should all prepare. Schools are closed, sandbags are available (bring your own shovel) shelters are being opened to take refuge in if needed, there is an emergency workforce on standby for power outages, clearing roads or any rescues that may become necessary - all very impressive, if not a little scary. The early voting for various elections in the state has been postponed and even Amtrak have cancelled all trains - at least we will be noise free for a while or maybe just a different noise?
It's now Tuesday and we are in the WORST place possible - we tracked the storm all day yesterday, Keith put away anything loose around the site, turned the picnic tables upside down, the predicted track was moving south, hitting land sooner than first expected then coming this way, but fortunately it would still cut across north of us. That all changed overnight and we are now in the middle of it. GOOD thing - it's still a tropical storm, it never made it to hurricane force, it hit shore south of Fort Myers, missing the Tampa Bay area altogether! Being a tropical storm means the winds should be more than 60 mph and may not even get above 40 - in the past I've been told "it's only wind and water" - we'll see, you know those dry sponges I said we were? We are expecting up to 9 inches of rain. Another good thing though, is that we got our post :)
Just think - if we hadn't watched any telly or heard any news and Betsy hadn't got that mozzy bite then we would have gone over to Tampa on Friday and now well on our way to "The Blue Ridge Mountains"
Oh well, it's only wind and water - and there goes our power!
Speak again soon - we hope...
Well all that was about 3 hours ago - the power went out due to a tornado touching down in Barefoot Bay, that's just a couple of miles south of here, 51 homes have been damaged and 9 are now uninhabitable. It has been non-stop rain here all day and the site we were parked on yesterday is now under water, we are now staying at Orbit, by the lakes RV park! Think the worst is over now, about 5pm. See - only wind and water.
The latest is that this tropical storm will develop into a hurricane as it goes out over the Atlantic to the east of us then back inland again to screw up the north of Florida - there goes the power again!
Check out some extra pics as well as weather "grabs" that helped confuse us... http://picasaweb.google.com/on.travels/FayAtOrbitRVPark
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