Upon realizing we missed a few important things we wanted to keep in case our home was destroyed, Kristi and I went back to our home in St. Pete at midnight on Thursday night to collect scrapbooks, pictures, Bibles, mementos and a few important heirlooms and kid toys.
It feels like some strange reality show where you have 20 minutes in your home to gather the most imprtant items before leaving, knowing everything will be destroyed.
However, Charley took a hard right turn as we were on our way out of harm's way (to a friend's home in Orlando). We hung out and had a little family retreat waiting for the storm to catch up to us. Aedan slept through the entire thing and Gillian stayed up.
The hurricane hit around 9 p.m. and lasted for about an hour. After the lights went out, I found a battery operated Barbie clock radio (I kid you not). This battery operated barbie clock radio that belonged to my friend's daughter was our window to the outside world. Other windows in the house we hoped would not allow us to experience the outside world.
After a lot of blowing and some tree limbs hitting the windows, the wind slowed. Eventually we were able to go to sleep. The next mornign we journeyed back toward the West Coast with the rest of Pinellas County. Upon arriving at my parent's home there was a tornado watch for their county.
Actually, it is hard to be grateful that something missed you and hits someone else. I honestly believe that this would have been worse than Andrew if it had continued on its predicted course and hit Tampa Bay. I only say this because Andrew's fury was directed south of Miami (in Homestead) and Charley was predicted to hit downtown Tampa.
Looking at the the footage from Charlotte County I have no doubt that our little cottage would have been destroyed in the hurricane. I was grateful to return to find everything standing and no sign of looters. I removed the sandbags, sprayed some bugspray around (natural bugspray of course) and took the tape of our windows. Tomorrow I will begin putting the yard back together again.
I think I may try to head down to some of the hard hit areas and help out later this week.