Saturday, March 31, 2012

3/31/2012 The Cleanup Continues

As we rode in the golf cart this morning we took comfort in the fact it didn’t look so much like a war zone any more. Tree limbs were piled high in one place waiting to be cut down to manageable sizes for disposal, some carports were sporting new braces and were back in place where they belong.

Winter residents were out sweeping patios, others were taking the last of the porch roofs or carports that couldn’t be fixed down and we as groundskeepers had a big job ahead of us.

We decided to start with the fountain area and shuffleboard courts on the Mission Bell side.

Yesterday the shuffleboard courts looked like this.


The trees had been removed and just the debris was left.


There was a fine, silt like, covering over everything in addition to twigs and leaves and dirt.


There are eight shuffleboard courts with gutters and walk ways in between each one. Bob spent the first hour just clearing the courts themselves and the next two plus hours sweeping everything in the gutters to a large piles at each end of each gutter.

While he did that I worked on the fountain area. There are large pine trees in this area and between the hail and the wind they dropped a lot of their, um, their,,,,you know I don’t know what to call them. They aren’t leaves, it wasn’t just needles, it wasn’t branches, it was these things…


I’m sure they have a name and I’m sure I know it. I just don’t know it right now. Anyway, hundreds and hundreds of these things fell all over the sidewalks and gravel and in the fountain, just everywhere.




After three plus hours of raking, sweeping, and running trash can after trash can full of the stuff to the dumpsters we called it a day. It was getting hot in the sun and we were just getting tired!

We stood there and looked at what we accomplished today, the difference we made and we went home feeling good about our efforts.

When we got home Bob started right in on trying to salvage our stainless steel grill that sat in 8 inches of water during the storm. He took it all apart in hopes that after it thoroughly dries out it will work again. I hope so because this is just the best grill we’ve ever had.

It was laundry day for me and vacuuming day and in view of my morning and how hard we worked I called it a pizza for dinner day too.

I bet we sleep good tonight!

Friday, March 30, 2012

3/30/2012 The Aftermath

After getting ready for our workday and early morning meeting we left to make our way to the hall on the the Mission Bell side of the park.

Lots of people were out on the street already and talk was all about the storm last night.

When we got the golf cart ready for our morning Bob pointed out the five gallon bucket in the back. This is what accumulated in it from the storm. That’s a lot of rain!


The patio furniture in the pool area ended up in the corner.


We lost nine flag poles in all.



Telephone poles came down and live wires laid across park models. Some people had to be moved to safer places last night.


We saw lots of car ports that had given way to the force of the wind.


Large branches were lost from mature trees.


This is just a very small portion of what we saw on the way to the hall for the meeting.

The turnout was good considering the majority of the Winter Texans have left. Of course there’s the ones who don’t show up when there’s work to be done.

Scott, our manager, led us in prayer, giving thanks that none of us were hurt and what was lost were only things. Replaceable things.

I was assigned the duty of taking pictures of damage for insurance purposes since so many of the resident have gone. Bob took the golf cart and helped those that had branches and limbs in their yards.

The parks really looked like a war zone with branches and limbs and leaves everywhere. Not to mention the buildings that were damaged.

I worked with Pat, who we first met in South Dakota last summer. She took one side of the road and I took the other. We knocked on doors asking if there was any damage and took pictures of it if they needed us too. The places that were empty we just walked around and took pictures of anything we saw that damaged.

The fountain area that we were so hard at keeping neat looking.


The shuffleboard courts.


This shed was knocked over the wind.


It landed on a utility pole.


When Pat went to this mobile home and Carol, the owner, answered the door, she asked, “Did you have any damage from the storm?”


Carol replied, “Ya think????”

This house had a carport that came right to the front of the house.


Parts of it were found on the next street over.


This site was all too common.


Rescued flags.


Oh no! Not the WIFI tower! Thankfully, the pole may be down but its still transmitting. Mission Bell didn’t fare so well. They’ve lost their WIFI signal.


This next picture is kind of hard to comprehend but the carport that belongs to the house on the right is laying on top of the carport that you can see in the picture. It just flipped right over the house.


This is just a very small sampling of what these parks look like after the storm.

I must say, it was heartwarming to watch neighbor helping neighbor and mere acquaintances pitching in to help the guy down the street.

Bob worked through the afternoon on clean up duty, removing tree limbs and pitching in here and there where needed.

At one o’clock the RV guy showed up and I told him the AC had been under water and he said it didn’t matter that the important parts were enclosed in plastic and it that it would work just fine. An hour and a half later it was all ready to go. Sure enough it works like a charm and our house is now so much cooler.

I asked Matt the RV guy if he had gotten lots of calls this morning and he replied, “It started ringing at daybreak.” Most ripped awnings. We had a lot of that in this park too. Those who didn’t know this was coming kept their awnings up and then couldn’t get them down because the hail was so bad.

As Scott said in the meeting. “We’re all thankful no one was hurt.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/29/2012 They Called it a Perfect Storm

When we heard the weather forecast on the morning news we heard 20% chance of showers in the afternoon. Eh, no big deal, probably wouldn’t even sprinkle.

The afternoon showers didn’t happen.

We didn’t listen to the 6 p.m. news as we were watching something else on TV while we ate.

Shortly after dinner the RV repair guy brought over the new air conditioner he is going to install on Friday. Oh yeah, our AC wasn’t cooling as well as we thought it should so we called the RV Fixit guy and he ran some tests and sure enough we had a leak. Since we are still under warranty for the AC the factory decided to just send us a new one. Since it wouldn’t fit on RV guys work truck he wanted to bring it over this evening so it would be here for the installation. No problem, just lay it there on the patio.

All is good. And then……

It started to rain. No, no, it started to pour. Bob ran out to cover the AC which is still in the cardboard box with a tarp.

And the THUNDER and LIGHTNING were relentless. Many times it looked like daylight outside. I don’t know what time all this started but it wasn’t long after it had become dark.

And the wind came, gusting to 72 miles an hour.

And the hail started coming down and continued to do so for 27 minutes. Twenty seven long minutes. Hail hitting an RV is a horrendous sound. Deafening. You just think about the damage its causing. The RV, the truck. And it continues to come down and all you can do is pray for it to stop. And then you yell at God, “Enough! Make it stop!”….and it continues to come down. And then if you’re me you start to cry and you beg your husband to take you away from this place. You beg him to get on the road and leave this Valley far behind.

And it rained harder.

What we missed on the six o’clock news was the prediction that if a cold front from the north collided with a warm front from the south the result would be a huge, HUGE storm. Lots or rain, hail, wind, thunder, lightning, possible tornado… a perfect storm.

And it rained harder still.

Our RV sits in a little valley. The rain water pools here. Every time. Tonight the water rose very fast because we got 5 inches of rain in a matter of 40 minutes. Five inches. That’s a lot of rain in a very short period of time and it had nowhere to go. In no time at all we had 8 inches of rain all around our RV and truck.

Bob got on the computer to look at the radar screen and it wasn’t a pretty sight. And the storm was huge. And then the warning went across the screen. Tornado possible at McAllen Airport. Five miles away as the crow flies.

Finally the time between thunder and lightning strikes was getting longer which meant the storm was moving.

The rain was letting up somewhat, the winds diminished, thunder wasn’t as loud, the lightning wasn’t as bright, the hail was gone,,,the worst part of it was over. Just normal, regular rain remained.

A knock came at our door at 10:30. Scott, the park manager was making sure everyone was ok and to let everyone know that there was a meeting the next morning at 8a.m. for all park residents as there was lots of damage in the park and everyone would be needed to help clean up.

We had no idea of what we would see the next morning.

Our new AC…underwater.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3/27/2012 A Day Trip to South Padre Island

We get these free throwaway papers here in the Valley that give all kinds of information on what’s happening in the area. The most recent showed some tall ships, actually replica’s of Christopher Columbus’ Nina and Pinta were here for viewing and touring.

So we traveled to Port Isabel to check them out.


The Niña is a replica of the ship on which Columbus sailed across the Atlantic on his three voyages of discovery to the new world way back in 1492. Rather than type all the details and facts about the ships you can read all about them HERE.

The Niña.


The Pinta.


There weren’t too many going beyond the gate to get closer. They were asking $8.00 a piece to go on board and neither Bob or I really felt the need to spend sixteen dollars to go get a close up look at a replica. Now if it had been the original Niña and Pinta, the ones that crossed the oceans back in 1492, well, we’d be all over that! Replicas? Eh, not so much. So we stood and looked at them. Ok, we’ve seen them, let’s go.

On the way out we noticed the shrimping boats were in dock. Look how close they park these boats. Park? Do you park a boat? No, I think you dock a boat. Whatever, they were close together.


Back on the road we head over the bridge to the causeway.


WATER! Oh, we both so needed this! Being beach people we really miss not being near water. This is the first large body of water we’ve seen in nearly two years.

As we got over the bridge I got a real wakeup call about South Padre Island.


I did not expect to see high rises at all! I had this vision of this rustic, nearly undeveloped island with old wooden beach bars and small little cottages here and there. Oh was I in for a surprise! I don’t know where this perception came from but it was totally Any Coastal Beach Town, USA!


First order of business was lunch! We drove directly to Pier 19. Now I didn’t see piers one through eighteen so the significance of the number nineteen was lost on me.

What’s wrong with this picture?


We went into the restaurant, a building made out of corrugated steel, and had window seats from which we watched the dolphins play while we ate.

Also in our view was this pirate ship that took island visitors out for dolphin watches.


When we got back out to the parking lot I saw something which made it really hit home for me just how homesick I am.


Yep, a seagull. I haven’t seen one of these in a long time. Somehow it didn’t effect Bob the same way it did me. It may have had something to do with the fact that this bird had just flown past our truck and left a remembrance on our windshield…..on his side.

We took a ride for several miles and the main part of the town was a typical beach town. Condo’s, motels, T-shirt shops, lots of restaurants and bars. Lots of bars. This is after all a hot spot for Spring Break. Luckily, that was last week and the island for the most part was pretty deserted. As deserted as it can be with 5,000 fulltime residents and the Winter Texan population.

I saw one restaurant with the name Padreritaville, a clever play on Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.

We rode the main drag until we ran out of town.


After turning around we drove out on the beach to watch the wind surfers.


This fella got air!


We stopped at a hospital on the way back through town. Not a people hospital, but a turtle hospital.


I had heard a lot about this place and was so glad we had the chance to stop and see what it was all about.

Founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher, better known as "The Turtle Lady of South Padre Island”, this hospital rescues,rehabilitates and releases injured sea turtles. Of course they are also all about educating the public about sea turtles and conservation efforts for all marine turtle species.


Inside the hospital.


We were able to see some of the turtles close up as they came to the side of their pools.


There were turtles of all sizes.


There is a large Wall Of Fame that gives you a true feeling of how much good these people do. It has many pictures of turtles that came to the hospital because of injury due to boat propellers, getting tangled in fishing nets, ingesting plastic, (this is a huge problem!) getting tangled in fishing line and the six pack plastic thingy’s. Each picture also represented not only the fact that the turtle was rescued but that it was also released again to its natural habitat.

A display of nets that entangled and injured the turtles.


Turtle tail. I didn’t realize they there that long.


Even though they come close to the edge of the pool and seem like they are begging to be petted, there is a federal law in place that says, DON’T TOUCH! In fact, there is ample signage telling visitors DON’T TOUCH!


Well of course there always that one idiot that has to pet the turtle anyway, completely oblivious to the signs that plainly state that the turtle bites with 2,000 pounds of pressure! Sure enough, while we were there someone pet a turtle. A hospital employee, or perhaps even a volunteer, wasted no time in getting right up in the idiots face and saying, “DON’T. DO. THAT!” in no uncertain terms.

Before leaving I had to use the ladies room and was glad I had my camera. I never thought I’d be taking pictures of the inside of their bathroom!

The mirror over the sink.


Ceiling light fixture.


The walls.


On the way back off the island we passed this great fishing pier. This really made Bob homesick!


On the way home this motorcycle passed us and we both did a double take.


A motorcycle with training wheels! See the three tires?

We had a great day!