Sunday, August 26, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
Tropical Storm warning issued
76* at wake up

This is not the Isaac I had in mind.

Between work and storm preparations I have neglected my blog.  Here's the latest:

TS Isaac has winds of 65 MPH and it departs Cuba and sets its sights on the Florida Keys. It is expected to achieve hurricane strength in the next 24 hours.  The current path has it tracking northwest through the Gulf.  The closer north it come towards our area, the further west it is expect to move from our shore. This is good news.

I am scheduled to depart from Tampa to LAX tomorrow at noon for a mandatory meeting at my corporate office. I invited my wife to join me but she declined. She is scheduled to work the next three days and doesn't feel the need to evacuate.  Neither of us expect the conditions at our home to be much worse than what we experienced with TS Debby a few weeks ago.  We had gusty winds, 5" of local rain and a 2'-3' storm surge; enough of submerge our boat dock.

This morning Port Charlotte is under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means we could experience Tropical Storm force winds (39-73mph) in the next 24 hours.  The areas approximately 75 miles south of us are under Hurricane Warning.  We have activated our hurricane plan.

Yesterday I got some help from my electrician neighbor, Steve, and we installed a 30 amp power receptacle next to my breaker panel.  This will enable us to use our generator to power our entire home from the breaker panel.  We won't be able to use the air conditioner or the stove/oven, however we did run a successful run of the following:

After turning off the main breaker, (never run a generator with a live main; you will energize the service lines to the street and if the service line is sending power to the home, you will blow your generator), we turned power back on, one breaker at a time, until we had all essential power running together.  We were able to have radios, TV's, ceiling and floor fans, lights, 2 refrigerator/freezers, our alarm system and even a vacuum running all at the same time.  Our Honda 7000 watt generator was a great investment.  Wiring directly to the breakers will keep us from having to run extension cords into the house and, other than a lack of AC, it will be life as usual.  This is critical, as my wife is going to be enduring this on her own.  I must say, I'd rather be here to take care of her and frankly, I'm disappointed I'm going to miss the excitement of the storm action.

Our generator test included experimenting with where we can safely place the unit.  Obviously the cost of such an item carries with it the threat of theft.  I had hoped to be able to place the generator at the driveway end of the garage and lower the garage door enough to prevent the unit from fitting beneath it.  We ran the generator and used a 4 gas detection meter to measure the levels of carbon monoxide in the garage.  They were at 90 parts per million; dangerous levels.  I placed a floor fan to force the exhaust further out of the garage but it was not enough to render the garage safe from the deadly fumes.  Even though the air inside the home tested safe for the 20 minutes test, the risk is not worth the reward.  We decided the unit will be placed on the small patio off of the service door of the garage, leading to the side yard.  I bought two braided steel cables and monstrous padlocks to secure the generator when it's placed outside.  I also changed out the standard porch light on that side of the house for motion detector flood light as additional security.

We went through our breaker panel, switch by switch, to positively identify the assignment and house location of each area serviced by each breaker.  I then applied labels on each breaker.

We stocked up on 20 gallons of drinking water, 2 cases of vitamin water, a case of gatorade and of course beer and wine.  We have plenty of frozen and non-perishable food.  We filled our propane bottles if we need to cook on the grill. All vehicles are full of fuel and we have 20 gallons of gas on hand for the generator and cash on hand, in case ATMs go down for days.

The boat is on the trailer in the driveway.  This is preferred over having it on the lift during a storm.  The hurricane high tides could cause it to float off the lift or damage the lift cover.  I still need to secure all of the dock lines on my floating dock/maintenance barge.  (remember that blog story? It's one of the most popular chapters searched for on Google)

I think we are ready.  I will decide by mid afternoon today if I need to install the plywood shutters on our windows.  A category 1 hurricane 150 miles off our shore would not really require shutters here.  Very few homes and even fewer businesses in town are putting up shutters.

The Fort Myers airport has cancelled flights for tonight and tomorrow but so far there are no cancellations for Tampa.  My flight is scheduled to depart Monday at noon and return Thursday afternoon.

By the time I finished writing this, we have been placed under Tornado Watch for the next 48 hours.  This is standard procedure, as rotating winds cause friction with the land and the result can be tornados forming at any time.  Fort Myers Beach and the Gulf Barrier Islands are under mandatory evacuation.  This is also standard, as those home right on the Gulf water can take 6' of water into their property.

I shot a video of our home/lot to document it's condition prior to the storm.  To view this video, click here:

Here are some photos of our prep work:

new tags on the breakers
Inlet for generator to power breaker panel

128 pints of drinking water
Additional water totals 20 gallons

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