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Life in a Hurricane.

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Life in a Hurricane
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This is A E-mail that Uncle Fred's Son Fred sent to me about; Hurricane Charley and what happen after it was done. I hope you like it for it is one hell of a story. 


Friday, August 13, 2004, we received an uninvited visitor. Hurricane Charley. Charley was not on his best behavior. In my neighbor's backyard, he knocked over the oak tree. With a height of over 50 feet, the top managed to land on the back of my house. The good news, the bushy part cushioned its landing. However, it did manage to do some roof damage.

In the process of rotating, abut 60 - 75 degrees; it had to pass the 7200-volt electric feed for the houses. This feed was along the rear property line. Unfortunately, the utility lines and pole were not strong enough to prevent the fall so the top 8 - 10 feet of the utility pole broke. The two transformers hit the ground. As all this was making its way to the ground, the telephone terminal box was hit. Electric lines, telephone lines and cable TV lines then had the burden of trying to support some of this weight. Again, the lines were never designed to do this and collapsed in a valiant effort to slow the descent of the falling tree and equipment.

If the weather service has a sense of humor, this would have been named Clyde. After Bonnie, then Clyde in a few days.


There are some photos available -


Other folk’s photos can be seen by doing a google search -

    "Hurricane charley" smugmug


Prior to the tree falling, the lights had blinked a few times then out about 9:26 PM. The tree fell about 9:35 PM. I was on the phone when it went dead. At some point, there were some surges into the phone system because the insulation on the conductors for my service was melted. In fact, it got so hot that it also came thought the outer black covering. In looking inside the box on the back, there is black soot. I don't know when the "fire" took place. There are also photos.

Just a few other comments. When have I ever been brief?

We had a new 3000-watt generator left over from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 that never made it here. Saturday morning, it was placed in service and operated any of the 120-volt equipment needed. The house remained comfortable for a couple of days. The hot water heater retained enough hot/warm water for showers through Wednesday. With my experience on cold showers, a technique was developed to mitigate some of the shock. If interested, I'll be happy to share it. About Thursday, we had come to the realization that the dishes really needed to be washed. Fortunately, the dishwasher has the ability to heat its own water. That worked very well. In an environment with temperatures 80 -90 degrees and humidity 72% and higher, there can be some issues. This is especially true to creatures that have become accustomed to living in a controlled environment. Homeowners insurance - We'll see. Around 1992/1993, the legislature allowed the insurance companies to change the deductibles from $100 or $500 to 2% or 5% of insured value for hurricane losses. That is over 10 times more deductible than we had previously. We'll see how this works out.

FEMA - I was told to apply. So far, it appears that if you had only "standard" damage, the process needs to be pursued further to see if there is any assistance. This past Wednesday, the cable TV folks came around and ran a temporary cable. This got service back. However, I was not up because along the failure process, several splitters were blown. Now that they have been replaced, we've got TV. Well, no TV is not the end of the world. At this point, having the cable connection allows me to borrow my brother's cable modem to connect to the Internet. After my e-mail client was reconfigured to use the cable server for sending e-mail that aspect of "Internet life" was back to normal.

Telephone Service - the phone company has moved the estimate of phone service restoration from September 8 to September 4. We'll see. One guy did come out last Sunday (a week later) and said the terminal box was so badly damaged that they could not connect a line and let it lie on the ground like the cable TV folks.

Tree Removal - Several days after Charley did his thing, a company out of Virginia gave me an estimate of $2,500 to remove everything. An insurance representative indicated that was about the going rate under the circumstances. Well, I did not move on it. Friday a week later, a tree company came out and did a "Cut and Drop" to free the utility lines. They did significantly more roof damage than the tree. Sunday, 8/22/04, we got my dad's chain saw - Poulan PRO - to start cutting the Tree. The user guide says "For occasional use.” It died and by Sunday evening, a replacement was purchased. However, the store was very good about the situation. Because the first had "failed" so soon, they refunded the first after the second was purchased. Monday, a guy came buy and indicated he would cut what was left for $2,200. When I pointed out that, I had a $2,500 estimate for cut and removal before the utility tree company, he dropped it to $1,800. For $1,800, he indicated he was doing me a favor. That Monday, I went out and purchased a STIHL chain saw. That's the brand all of the tree cutters are using - $430. However, it cuts and keeps on cutting. Rambo - My youngest son David has been extremely helpful. Because of his aggressive efforts at cutting and carrying very heavy logs on his shoulder, hacking branches with his machete I've started calling him Rambo.

Battle casualty - My oldest son became a battle casualty. One of the chunks of oak twisted unexpectedly as it was falling and managed to land on a couple of his toes. After a soaking them in ice and a shower, the folks in the emergency room indicated only his big toe was broken.

The power in the neighborhood was restored Sunday, 8/15/04, except to the folks along our down feeder. Ours was restored about 6:05 PM, Saturday, 8/21/04. There are photos of the folks from the

City of Tallahassee electric utility working to restore it as indicated above. The AC ran for 3:42:02 (3 hours, 42 minutes, 2 seconds) before it cycled from high to low. I've got monitoring equipment to measure on/off times of the compressor, temperature and relative humidity inside as well as the temperature coming off of the coil.

The photos on the site are being updated on a regular basis. The initial photos around the neighborhood were taken with my son's digital camera. The rest were/are taken with my 26-year-old Canon A1. The film is then scanned and the digitized image is then uploaded. The scan process takes about 6 minutes per photo when scanned at 2,400 dpi. This gives an image of 21 Mb.

If anyone likes the site where the photos are located and decides to sign up, if you give my e-mail address, they will give you a $5.00 discount for signing up and I receive a $10 credit. All in the interest of full disclosure.

Well, so much for my ranting. If you've read to this point, thank you.


Fred Stone


P.S.  Have a plan in place for what you might do for an extended power outage and especially the

Internet if you are using it to pay bills!

My cell phone started it new cycle 8/13. I'm about 50% through my minute allocation.

For the first week, no power, etc., the rest of the world as you knew/know it seemed to be something very distant.