Two months ago we decided to drive down to Florida in early October to celebrate Gregg’s 50th birthday with his family. Little did we know Hurricane Matthew would crash his birthday plans. We knew the approaching storm could impact the east coast of Florida and more importantly his family’s homes.
We decided to make the trip down to Ormond Beach to make sure Gregg’s mother, Pat, would not only get to see her baby boy turn 50, but to make sure she had lots of family around her to keep her safe. We also met the newest member of our family, our great-niece, Aubrey.
Gregg, Spencer and I arrived in Florida on October 3rd. Since we knew Disney would close for the hurricane we planned our visit the next day.
We enjoyed a fun day in the Magic Kingdom. We managed a few hours before the typical afternoon Florida rainstorm hit. Just as we started the Tomorrow Land Speedway ride, the sky opened up and we drove the course in a torrential downpour.
After we pulled into pit row we sat with a few dozen people in the grandstands to wait out the storm. Luckily this drove many people out of the park which meant a short wait time on other rides. The day before Gregg’s 50th birthday we celebrated with family at a local restaurant. Gregg and his brother Chris hoped these hurricane drinks would be more powerful than Matthew.
Gregg turned 50 one day before Hurricane Mathew blew into Florida. We spent the day buying last minute supplies and trying to find a sushi restaurant that remained open.
After calling all over town, we found one. Gregg gobbled down his birthday sushi with delight. Not exactly the birthday celebration I planned for Gregg but he’s a good sport. We figured this would be a great story to tell one day, how Hurricane Matthew crashed his 50th birthday plans.
The morning of October 7th Hurricane Matthew started to make his presence known in Ormond Beach around 4pm. Gregg and I woke up to a roaring wind. We let Spencer and Gregg’s mom sleep in while we located all candles and made a last batch of ice in the freezer. I managed to make one last cup of coffee before we lost power at 6am.
Over the next several hours we all listened to the howling wind and watched as tree limbs flew through the yard.
A pair of deer that live in the neighborhood sought shelter in the backyard bushes. By noon Hurricane Matthew’s eye was just east of Ormond Beach. We kept a close eye on the trees for fear they would fall on the house.
Incredibly, Gregg’s boyhood home survived the storm without any damage. Tree limbs littered the yard and driveway but thankfully that was the extent of Matthew’s impact. The same could not be said for the rest of the neighborhood. Trees crashed into homes and brought down power lines.
Firefighters drove down our street and asked if everyone was safe. We were told that no-one suffered any injuries in our immediate area. Within an hour of Hurricane Matthew’s departure we started the cleanup. We could hear the sound of chainsaws and generators throughout the neighborhood.
Gregg and I raked his mom’s yard and piled up all of the fallen foliage by the street. The next day Gregg and Chris finished clearing the backyard and roof.
We celebrated when power returned two days later. Even as I write this, five days after Hurricane Matthew, many people throughout Florida remain in the dark.
We are thankful that all of our family’s homes came through the storm unscathed. Hurricane Matthew left its mark on the east coast of the United States and altered Gregg’s 50th birthday plans but spending time with family, even in the most stressful of situations, made this ordeal all worthwhile.