Maria Makes Her Mark

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Only a week before Hurricane Maria hit our island archipelago, we put the pool and terrace furniture back outside, positioned the potted plants in their normal spots, rehung the exterior lights and fans, reinstalled the screens outside, pulled Bruno’s and Bob’s vehicles out from hiding, helped JP clean the chicken coops at the farm and brought Nico’s boat from his house on top of a hill to its slip at the Baillargent marina. It was only days after Irma passed and we were settling back into our usual routine, when we learned that Maria was heading straight for us and increasing in intensity as she approached.  She would release her wrath on Guadeloupe in the middle of the night just as Irma did. On Monday, September 18, businesses, government offices and schools were again closed.  We started all over with hurricane preparations and gathered the family and pets and battened down the hatches. By 5:00 pm, the town was quiet, the streets were empty, the sky was ominous and the feel outside was uncomfortable and eerie.  It really was the quiet before the storm.  During the night, the Category 5 hurricane winds blew at approximately 100 mph, whistling through every crack and crevice in the house and whipping over every inch of wood and concrete outside. The sound was terrifying and surreal. I thought about the people without a concrete box to protect them and the homeless kittens and other animals outdoors without shelter. Brynn came into our room anxious and scared. The rain leaked through the roof and water seeped inside from under the exterior doors. It did not stop for hours. Our cell service still worked and our electricity endured for most of the ordeal. People were texting each other and posting on Facebook at 2:00 am. In the morning, we were without electricity, but it was eventually restored (only after we used the propane burner to boil water for coffee). We walked outside and Chemin de Bornave was blocked by a fallen tree. We made our way to our neighbors’ properties to make sure people were alright.  Fred lost banana trees and other plants, including his revered belle-de-nuit that carried the sweetest smell through the air each evening. It was laying against our fence lifeless and pitiful.  For the most part, it appeared that the majority of buildings were in tact, but power lines were down and street signs blown away.  Mother nature delivered a blow and also took a beating in our area.  Huge trees fell throughout Deshaies and rocks and debris were strewn onto the streets of Ferry near the water.  Businesses were flooded near the Bay of Deshaies from the waves that came during and after the storm. A few of the popular beachfront restaurants had significant roof and terrace damage.  The Jardin Botanique de Deshaies (Botanical Gardens) looked…well…like a hurricane hit it. As for La Tramontane, we had some minor roof damage, the front fencing blew away, our beautiful frangipane broke in half, my favorite voyageur palm was seriously damaged, all of the banana trees were pummeled, palms and flamboyants were left naked, and trees all around were down (including a large one that crashed onto the fence we recently installed below). But, this was nothing compared to what others experienced and we feel fortunate.  Reports confirmed that Maria caused at least two deaths in Guadeloupe – one person was killed by a falling tree and another swept out to sea.  People stuck in a boat near La Désirade are apparently still missing.  School was canceled for the entire week and is supposed to start up again on Monday. We heard that Les Saintes suffered serious damage and we were forwarded pictures and videos of Pointe-à-Pitre under water.  Bob is exhausted from the cleanup (notice how I said only Bob) and we are all recovering from the stress, but Deshaies will be back to normal very quickly and tourists will still have the full benefit of its charm and beauty when they visit.  We even popped into town last night for dinner at Kaz à Pat.  As for our lovely La Tramontane, she is a true and gracious survivor. She was built with love by Louis and Odette to withstand the test of time and to protect those who dwell within.

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