Irma; A Hurricane Saga in 3 parts

Part 1 – The Evacuation

The whole thing began late Labor Day weekend. I had been having a wonderfully productive labor day weekend, working on my latest woodworking project around the house and knocking out some long-overdue weeding. It was one of those killer weekends where I felt like I was in amazing GSD mode and was knocking items off the “to do” list.  But… being so busy I hadn’t spent much time reviewing the NHC forecasts (which I typically try and check every day or two during hurricane season just to keep an eye on them). By the time I did check them late in the day on Labor Day Monday, it looked like Hurricane Irma could be something that Mr PoP and I would need to act on.

When we went for our nightly walk a little bit later, I told Mr PoP about my concerns and he said he’d look at the forecast when we got home too. After doing that, he agreed that we should start making some plans.

We had 3 things going for us at that time:

  1. We already had flight tickets booked to leave town on Friday to visit friends and attend a family wedding in Brooklyn.
  2. Thanks to all my cabinet building we had a decent amount of plywood and materials for boarding up the house. Ironically I had thought getting rid of some of that would be added to my labor day “to do” list but it hadn’t quite made the list.
  3. On Monday evening, time was on our side-Irma wasn’t due to hit until late Saturday

So we had a game plan. Board up the house as best as possible, get on our flight on Friday morning and try to enjoy ourselves for the weekend.

On Tuesday morning I told this to my boss at work and let him know that I would probably not be working most of Thursday to make sure I took care of our house. I may have also had a mini breakdown at the office because this storm coincided with the departure of my friend at work leaving on a 6 week vacation and the start of my covering for him as the designated “IT backup and recovery” person for our little office location. So my responsibilities at the office were increasing dramatically as there was a freaking category 5 hurricane potentially headed our way.  I feel like the amount of stress I felt in that moment was appropriate and I knew already it was going to be a crazy week even with our game plan already in place at home.

As Mike Tyson says, “Everybody has a plan until we they get punched in the mouth.” Although we never really got punched in the mouth, our hurricane plans began to change almost immediately. Mr. PoP’s parents flight to the wedding in Brooklyn got canceled and Mr. PoP stayed behind to make sure that they caught a later flight out.

Reminder for future evacuations... being fed a constant supply of amazing food helps.

Reminder for future evacuations… being fed a constant supply of amazing food helps.

I flew Friday by myself – not sure if Mr PoP was going to make it out since so many flights were being canceled. The next 18 hours of being separated from Mr PoP and knowing he was still down there were awful. Luckily I was with amazing friends in Brooklyn. Lia just kept trying to feed me the most wonderful food you can imagine and George is one of the most even keeled people that I have ever met in my entire life. I would say something like, “If we still have a house after this, you guys have to visit again sometime soon to see everything we’ve done to the place since your last visit (4 years ago)”, and somehow they would just expertly deflect the conversation, letting me feel the feels but helping to keep them from dragging me down completely.

After hours on the phone with Delta Airlines, Mr PoP, Kitty PoP and his parents caught the last flight out from our town on Saturday AM and after that my emotions changed again. Once they were all safe, I REALLY didn’t care what happened to our properties or our things. At that point it was all just “stuff” that was insured, and it started becoming a strange “what if” sort of game in my head.

If we have to rebuild, do we do it on stilts and make the bottom a garage/woodshop?  

What if we don’t want to rebuild now, can we take some time to sit on that decision and travel a bit?  Maybe buy an RV?  (For some reason this RV plan kept coming up through my head all weekend although I have never been an RV proponent in my life.)  

On my way to greet Mr PoP, Kitty PoP (his first flight!), and his parents after their flight arrival, I was texting another friend and was telling him that we were all safe and that I really didn’t care about the rest. This was his text back:

IMG_7883

I literally LOL-ed standing on the subway platform.

It was true. At that point, it was all just stuff. We were insured, and we have resources. Sure it might be inconvenient, but none of this was going to break us, and in fact might present a very interesting set of choices.

Part 2 – Schroedinger’s House

I tried not to look at the forecasts too much after that point, but let’s be real. That meant I was only looking at it 50% of the time instead of the 100% of the time that I really wanted to be looking at it. And it sucked because they kept getting worse and worse for our town. By Sunday AM (when the hurricane hit the Keys), NOAA was saying there was a 10% chance that there would be 6 feet of water above ground level pretty much across our entire neighborhood. 10% chance isn’t a guarantee of that kind of flooding, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility. And 6ft of water isn’t nothing. When it was just 3 ft, our friend Lia very awesomely said, “Your beautiful counters will probably make it!” But at 6 ft… well, the counters probably wouldn’t make it. Nor would pretty much anything else.

The wedding on Sunday was beautiful, but making smalltalk with the the other guests was odd. It was just weird to be in celebration mode in the exact moment that a Category 4  hurricane was hitting our house a couple thousand miles away.

We were at a table with relatives from the other side of the family that we didn’t really know, and, of course, the “where do you live?” question came up.

“Florida”

“Oh, I hope you’re not going to be impacted by Irma”

“We are. It’s hitting our house right now.”

“… Is everything going to be okay?”

“Who knows!  We are calling our home “Shroedinger’s House” at this point. Maybe it’s still a house, and maybe it a pile of wood!”

Then there was an awkward pause and they would change the subject. All in all, I think we were in good spirits, the corny 80’s pop music was perfect, the wedding was beautiful and we were so happy for the bride and groom.

But by Monday morning, it became clear that the surge and flooding hadn’t materialized for our neighborhood. We still didn’t have word on any wind damage, but at least the flooding hadn’t happened.  We had partial relief.

IMG_7877By Monday afternoon, a few pics came in from neighbors from the street along with word that no one on the street had experienced “major” damage. But our house wasn’t in any of the 3 snapshots we saw, and what the heck does “major” consist of anyway…?!?  Especially when we could definitely see trees downed all over the street and based on the way they fell, our giant tree (50 ft tall and wide live oak tree) would have likely fallen onto the house.

When we saw our neighborhood gas station in a national news outlet without a roof over the pumps, was that “major” damage?  Or just “some” damage?   After all, the main building was still standing and looked ok.

I was starting to feel better, but not 100%. But by a few hours after that we got word from Mr PoP’s brother who had stayed down there on the damage to our house.  His first glance is that we lost 1 (of 28) solar panels (and probably have some roof damage where it was pulled off) and also lost a post from the screened pool cage, but otherwise he couldn’t see any damage.  Fabulous news – and a credit to Mr PoP for boarding the house up so well.

Then word came in from one of our renters that evacuated. Looks like a leak – which we will see if we can get covered under warranty since that roof is only ~2 years old. A tree also toppled in the front and is laying across one of the driveways – this tree might have roots extending to the leach field for the septic so we will take a look and make sure the leach field doesn’t need any repairs too. Their whole street also looks like a lake, as well, but the water never made it anywhere close to the house.

So 2 properties, still habitable.  A-freaking-mazing.  

Part 3 – You Can’t Go Home Again

At least not as quickly as we’d like.

1 week (168 hours) after Mr PoP and I talked about the hurricane on our nightly walk, we sat in our friends’ living room – with a tentative plan in place to get back.  It seemed like this was going to be at least a little messy, but way better than it could have been.

We started the journey back Wednesday AM with a flight to Atlanta.  There, we had a reservation for an SUV (and plan to drive around gathering what supplies we could find here – we scored a generator that had literally just been returned at Home Depot and the last small window AC unit!).

The power is still out on our street, and on Wednesday the roads from Atlanta to all points in South Florida were packed with cars with gas still a bit scarce even in the northern parts of the state.  Those factors, combined with the possibility that I-75, the main artery from Atlanta into FL, was potentially going to get closed due to the Santa Fe River flooding meant we stayed here in Atlanta for a night.  Luckily, that meant more wonderful food with friends – and a Pub Trivia Night!  It was way more fun than racing a potentially flooding river when gas is still such a precious resource.

The roads are clear now, and they’re saying the risk of flooding closing the bridge has passed, so by the time you read this post we should be almost home.  Fingers crossed we get power back sooner than later – right now the estimate for us is 9/22 (that’s still a week out for those keeping track at home!), though others that have been told the same have power back already so we’re really hopeful.

The goal is to get the house cleaned up this weekend (it’s a mess inside from all the crazy packing), and then start getting back to regular life and our J-O-B-S on Monday.

We will probably write more about this later – but if you don’t hear from us for a little bit, we are safe and probably busy as hell cleaning up and might not have power or internet access for a bit.

So hugs to everyone – and we hope everyone else came through safe and sound with possessions relatively unscathed as well.

 

 

Happy Friday – Happy Cabinetry!

  

  

  

  

  

   
 

  

PoP Balance Sheet – August 2017

Welcome to our August 2017 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to mint.com and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

The S&P moved mostly sideways from the beginning to the end of the month in August. And we didn’t have omniscience necessary to time our investments to correspond with the dip in the middle of the month. However, we did have a fair amount that we rolled into taxable investments at the end of the month, so we still ended up with a decent increase in our net worth for the month.

But on to the numbers for August:

  • Our total assets up $17.6K
  • Our total liabilities went up by $0.4K (we paid the cc balance right after this snapshot, oh well!) 
  • Net worth went up by $29.2K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of August is $1,472.3K, which represents a 1.18% increase for the month

For the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – August 2017

PoP Income Statement – August 2017

With a face this cute, you'd never suspect he'd be hosting a parasite, would you. =(

With a face this cute, you’d never suspect he’d be hosting a parasite, would you. =(

Mr. PoP and I put these income statements together for two reasons. First, we want to be transparent about our finances because we’re trying to be role models for other people who are trying to plant their own pennies (and end up with dollars someday!). Second, we do this to make sure we’re on track to meet our own long-term goals. If you’re not tracking your income statement and balance sheet, we highly recommend you start using a program like Mint to keep track of it all.

We got some bad news today.  Kitty PoP has a tapeworm.  He has almost no symptoms (he has yacked up his dinner a few times over the last month or so, which is a bit unusual), but seems otherwise not bothered by them.  The worm(s?) turned up in one of the tests the vet ran last month and we somehow didn’t find out until today. =(  But we applied the anti-parasitic, so hopefully it will take care of the problem and our little guy can go back to being his perfect little self.

In other news… it was a solid month for income in the PoP household – we each earned some bonus money from our employers, and it *looked* even better than it would have earlier in the year because we both officially maxed out on our 401K deposits. From now through the end of the year we will see more after tax money flowing through these income statements instead of bypassing them and going straight to the 401Ks.  But probably not as much as this month.  Bonus money from both our employers in one month was a bit unusual.

Other than groceries being particularly egregious (I have yet to stop at Publix since the Amazon/Whole Foods merger on Monday to see if there has been an immediate impact yet), the month was pretty close to “normal” for us.

Mr PoP shopped around and got us a new bug company at a slightly lower rate, so we hope they will be good since we paid for a year of pest control service up front (for both our house and the duplex).

And the duplex had a pesky A/C problem that we had to pay after-hours rates for. That was a bit pricey, but we’re not going to mess around with renters not having A/C in August in Florida. Sorry, not happening.

Here’s all the rest of the numbers…

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $12,515.  

And the details… Continue reading PoP Income Statement – August 2017

Why I’m Looking Forward To Amazon Owning Whole Foods

PoP water levels after this crazy rain: This tree near the edge of our property (on the neighbor's lot) is usually a good 6 feet + away from the lake's edge, not submerged a solid 6" (or more?) in water.

PoP water levels after this crazy rain: This tree near the edge of our property (on the neighbor’s lot) is usually a good 6 feet + away from the lake’s edge, not submerged a solid 6″ (or more?) in water.

Before I type anything about something as trivial as groceries, I have to stop and hold those in Texas in my thoughts.  I hope you are all safe and stay that way.  

According to local public rain gauge data, upwards of 9″ and 10″ of rain has fallen at the nearest (to us in FL!) rain gauges to us over the last 4 days (through Saturday), and that doesn’t include the fact that it has been raining mostly non-stop all of Sunday (so far).  The lake behind our house was at a height on Saturday that we have never witnessed in the 8 years we’ve lived here (still well below our home’s elevation, so please don’t worry about us), and I’ve been hunkered down in the house, even a bit scared to go out driving on the roads.  

Viewing this here, I can’t even wrap my mind around what it has been like to have that quantity of rain fall that Houston and other nearby areas have received in far less time that that.  I am scared for you.  Please, take care!  

 

Today, Amazon will close on its $13.7 billion dollar purchase of Whole Foods.  Honestly, I’m a little surprised the FTC gave it the go-ahead.  But I am actually looking forward to it, and even more so after Jeff Bezos announced that the first thing that will happen post merger is for prices to decrease on key staples throughout the store on Monday morning.

Image from TechCrunch

I only shop at Whole Foods maybe once a month, and only buy a (literal) handful of items when I go (as I noted when I wrote about our food spending rules of thumb almost exactly three years ago).  Nonetheless, I’m hoping that these price reductions (and hopefully other supply chain innovation) will bring the prices of high quality food down from the heights that they have risen to over the past few years (and especially over the last year!).  Specifically, at the chain where we do the vast majority of our grocery spending, Publix.

Continue reading Why I’m Looking Forward To Amazon Owning Whole Foods