Pankor, Malaysia, 2017

Chris and I spent 2017 house sitting, 5 months in Puerto Rico and 5 months in South East Asia. House sitting exposes you to many wonderful experiences, the people, the food, cultures, language etc etc Weather is one we don’t think of so much. We have never felt so hot in Puerto Rico for example and later this year we will possibly have snow as we are currently in Europe. It is all part of the experience of traveling around our amazing planet and you have to embrace all of the above. But, we have experienced a severe weather episode, not 1 but 2 hurricanes back to back – Irma and Maria, September 2017 – Puerto Rico. So while we get ourselves settled into life in France, I would like to share our Hurricane story. Pre Irma, Post Irma and Pre Maria, Post Maria then Our Evacuation, I hope you enjoy our story.

Pre-Irma

La Chiva, Vieques

Vieques, beautiful Island to the East of Puerto Rico Main Island. 34km X 5km.

Written early September 2017. We are good, getting our heads around preparation for Hurricane Irma who is destined to cross our path in a couple of days. The Island is in preparation mode, the ferry service is being suspended on Tuesday and all the ferries will be taken around to San Juan for safe keeping, the airport will probably close as well.  We don’t really know what we are in for.  We are being advised by locals to be prepared, get food provisions in and collect/buy lots of water.  The power will more than likely be turned off, before it gets cut off by the weather – this is less damaging to the system apparently.  The supermarkets get stocked up on a Tuesday and often by Monday it is slim pickings in there anyway, so with this mass “buy lots of food” there will be nothing on the shelves.  Also heard though, that they start giving frozen/refrigerated stuff away, like ice cream etc, if it looks like the power will go out.  Happy days!!

We may get a bit of water in through our back door so we are going to make some sand bags up and Chris is going to dig a trench in preparation.  At the moment they don’t know for sure if it will hit us directly.  Some of the predicted paths show her coming right at us, some have her tracking North. Even if she tracks north, we will still get some impact being on the fringes.  We will be ok here. we are in a really solid house.  We know enough people here now too that if it is total devastation, we have places to go and people to take us there.  We are certainly not alone.  

We have a water collection drum from the roof for the garden, so that will be great. We have stocked up the freezer. We have gas cooking both upstairs and downstairs in the apartment.  Our gas tanks are a bit exposed, if they blow away we have the downstairs ones as back up, we have loads of candles and vodka! We think we are ready.  So funny though, we are off to the beach today! hard to believe what is coming.

Facebook post:

So we are in the path of hurricane Irma. She will hit in about 18 hours. Cat 5, record wind speed recorded with Jose right up Irma’s bum. 185 mph winds gusting to 225. We are well prepared – as much as hurricane virgins can be! Got the food, water, candles, torches, grab bag for evacuation. Our house is very secure, the power will be turned off, maybe even as soon as tonight. I will try to keep updated here for as long as I can. Xxx

During. This Hurricane was predicted as cat5, and they said it is the biggest in the area ever.  So we were very concerned, in fact we are really scared.  We have done lot of prep, we had several days to get prepared, so we feel we were in a good place.  The wind started at 4am and got stronger and stronger.   At times the wind is gusting so strong it makes us hold our breath… stop…. And wait… BREATH!! but it really isn’t as bad as we thought it would be. We have no power, so no news on what is actually happening out there.   We have lots of food, we even have a roast chicken cooking, bottle of wine, candle light – its only 3:30 pm!! Giving us something to do to keep our minds off the howling wind outside. We cooked the roast in the oven downstairs as it has a manual temp dial. The one upstairs is all electric controls. We can manually light the hob, but not the oven. So Chris is the brave one! Up and down, in the rain, trying to stay on his feet, carrying trays of roast dinner! Late afternoon, she was getting a bit less intensity, or maybe we were just getting used the sound of the wind.  We have been watching the palm trees and they are now blowing in the opposite direction – she must be passing!  Blowing East, then North then West. When she swung around to the north we got water in the front doors and were on mop up duty for about an hour then she swung to the west and hammered the other side. We knew then that she was on her way! It was really fascinating seeing the change of wind direction as she progressed.


The house across from us has lost their veranda roof, it is still just hanging there from one corner, very lucky it didn’t go flying. There is no one home which is just as well, one of the uprights went through a window and they will have a lot of weather in there being on the west side.

So that was a Cat 5 hurricane – or was it? We didn’t know it at the time but there was worse to come, and…… is it the hurricane or the aftermath that is more dangerous?

Part 2 – Post Irma and Pre Maria – Next Week

Vieques, Puerto Rico

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