Sunday, August 28, 2011

Drawing Up a Storm while the Hurricanes Rage, Part Two

"Old Age Fragility", 26 1/2" x 36", graphite on paper by Fran Hardy copyright

This was the second drawing from my staghorn series that began after Hurricane Charley. It became a series that spoke about the cycles of aging, inspired by the staghorn ferns I saw at Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. Our neighbor Charlie also had a beautiful staghorn fern hanging from his back porch that I watched evolve and grow. The drawing youth was based on his staghorn fern, as I thought it looked very maternal and youthful as opposed to the drawings "Old Age Fragility" and "Vulnerability" which were based on a huge old staghorn with lots of dried parts at the botanical gardens. These also became the basis for a series of very experimental paintings which I will talk about in a future blog and also a series of etchings.
"Youth", 30 3/4" x 36", graphite on paper by Fran Hardy copyright

"Vulnerability", 28 1/2" x 31 1/2", graphite on paper by Fran Hardy copyright

In between all the many challenges of the aftermath of Hurricane Charley doing these drawings in my studio provided a place of refuge and sanity.
As I said in the previous post, the fact that our house had been built with recent stricter building codes and our hurricane shutters as well as Bob's reinforcement of our garage door meant that we were quite fortunate. 
This was the internal damage from a piece of flying debris smashing through the wall of our house which also blew out the plumbing under the sink.
We also had a lap pool, which I adored, as I am an avid swimmer. Doing laps was wonderful exercise for me and lots of creative ideas would bloom in my brain as I swam. The hurricane destroyed our two story pool cage, a necessity with all the mosquitos and no-see-ums in south Florida.

The electricity was out for about three weeks which was a challenge for those of us modern Florida dwellers. My father grew up there in the early days before air conditioning. No wonder southerners take siestas. Later in his childhood, room air conditioners came into being and Bob and I had central air. My father can still stand insufferable heat in the humid New Jersey summers where he lives. I find it insufferable and really love the dryness and cool nights here in New Mexico. Bob found it so unbearable for sleeping after the hurricane took out our electric that he slept in our front doorway where there was at least a slight breeze. The central air also prevents the growth of mold and those of our neighbors whose roofs were breached rapidly found their houses literally black with mold inside, which is very dangerous to breathe and can cause serious illness. We had a little mold and luckily our homeowner's insurance  paid for us to bring in a raft of fans and dehumidifiers after the electricity came on three weeks later. Many people were having major issues with their insurance. You pay and pay for it and really don't know if they will come through for you like they should until disaster hits. We were lucky to be able to stay in our house as many were unlivable in our neighborhood. The Red Cross came in and delivered meals to a neighbors house until the utilities were restored and we all met there for meals which helped to restore a sense of community.  There was no cell phone service with any remaining bandwidth being used by the emergency reponders and of course all the landlines were down. FEMA did pay for us to get a generator which powered a few fans after several weeks. All the generators would sell out early in the mornings until new shipments came in and gas was hard to come by. Another issue was getting competent contractors to do the repairs. People came in from other parts of the country to meet the needs of homeowners for repairs and there were many that weren't reputable besides the challenge of coordinating with the insurance to get the repairs approved and paid for. That was part of the networking at the Red Cross meals sharing contacts for repairs and stories of who not to use and how to find contractors, roofers etc. The roofers were especially expensive and hard to find. We had weeks dealing with the person who was supposed to redo our siding and finally fired him (Luckily we hadn't paid him for the whole job.) We hired the guy who had quit working for him in disgust. He finished our job and we referred him to a friend whom he skipped out on after being paid much to our surprise. This was how it was.......
Hurricane Charley was relatively narrow storm as opposed to some that are many more miles wide. One day we went up to Venice, Florida which had been unaffected and was only about 40 minutes away. We went into a Subway for lunch and people were going about their business as normal and chatting about fish licenses while we lived in a disaster zone. What a contrast. We really do all inhabit our own reality. 

In my next post....from Florida to New Mexico and then a rhapsody on peaches inspired by my sister.

Wunderground is a great site for storm and weather information and we used it a lot.

A youtube on Hurricane Charley similar to what we watched in disbelief on our friend's battery powered TV during the storm and some of what we saw out his windows. 

Hurricane Charley was the third named storm, the second hurricane, and the second major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Charley lasted from August 9 to August 15, and at its peak intensity it attained 150 mph (240 km/h) winds, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm made landfall in southwestern Florida at maximum strength, thus making it the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida twelve years before, in 1992.
After moving briskly through the Caribbean Sea, Charley crossed Cuba on Friday, August 13 as a Category 3 hurricane, causing heavy damage and four deaths. That same day, the hurricane crossed over the Dry Tortugas, just 22 hours after Tropical Storm Bonnie struck northwesternFlorida. This was the first time in history that two tropical cyclones struck the same state in a 24-hour time period[citation needed]. Charley was one of two major hurricanes to hit Florida in 2004, and one of four hurricanes to directly affect the state.
At its peak intensity of 150 mph (240 km/h), Hurricane Charley struck the northern tip of Captiva Island and the southern tip of North Captiva Island, causing severe damage in both areas. Charley, the strongest hurricane to hit southwest Florida since Hurricane Donna in 1960, then continued to produce severe damage as it made landfall on the peninsula near Port Charlotte. The hurricane continued to the north by northeast along the Peace River corridor, devastating the small cities of Punta GordaClevelandFort OgdenNocateeArcadiaZolfo SpringsSebring, and Wauchula. Zolfo Springs was isolated for nearly two days as masses of large trees, power pole, power lines, transformers, and debris filled the streets. Wauchula sustained gusts to 147 mph (236 km/h), buildings in the downtown areas caved in onto Main Street. Ultimately, the storm passed through the central and eastern parts of the Orlando metropolitan area, still carrying winds gusting up to 106 mph (171 km/h). Interestingly, the city of Winter Park, north of Orlando, also sustained considerable damage since its many old, large oak trees had not experienced high winds. Falling trees tore down power utilities, smashed cars, and their huge roots lifted underground water and sewer utilities.
Damage in the state totaled to over $13 billion (2004 USD). Charley, initially expected to hit further north in Tampa, caught many Floridians off-guard due to a sudden change in the storm's track as it approached the state. Throughout the United States, Charley caused 10 deaths and $15.4 billion in damage (2004 USD), making Charley the second costliest hurricane in United States history at the time (it has since dropped to 5th). Charley was a very small, very fast moving storm, otherwise damage would have been much more severe. Although mitigation and restoration was promised by FEMA to the poor communities of Hardee and DeSoto counties during town meetings, the agency did not pass the cursory planning stages, and the promised reconstruction and compensation never happened.

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