10:01am – Good morning, I survived the storm. I woke up several times last night due to loud gusty winds and heavy rain, but my condo doesn’t appear to have taken any damage. It’s sunny but with persistent gusty winds.
10:36am – Orange and Seminole Counties are still under curfew through tonight, but will reassess their decision around noon.
11:00am – NWS has downgraded the storm to a Cat 3, but it is still causing immense damage in coastal cities.
11:17am – Orlando Sentinel is reporting at least one death in Central Florida attributable to Matthew.
11:41am – Meanwhile, Matt Drudge has theorized that Hurricane Matthew is a government conspiracy to “make a point about climate change,” a sentiment echoed by fellow radio host Rush Limbaugh (who walked his statement back)
12:01pm -Chip and Company is reporting that all 4 Disney parks remain closed and will reopen tomorrow pending damage assessment. All resorts and their restaurants remain open.
12:30pm – Gov. Scott says “worst of Matthew is yet to come”
12:47pm – Damage assessments of Gables, Rosenthal and Medical campuses have been completed. So-called “Cardboard U” is open for business tomorrow. Game on.
Hopefully, this is my last post on the matter.
5:04pm – It’s been pouring rain on and off all afternoon here in Orlando with each band getting progressively stronger. THIS current one is the real deal.
5:16pm – Believe it or not, there are still people on the roads.
5:24pm – Various computer models still show it coming over parts of Florida, but the actual forecast hasn’t changed much 5-8” of rain with winds about 20-40 miles per hour gusts of 65mph (TWC is calling for 5-7” but with winds gusting to 70-80mph)
6:05pm – TWC has downgraded their forecast to 3-5” with winds in the 20-40mph bracket (with gusts of 65mph). Rain has stopped for the moment.
6:35pm – Making leftover chicken tenders and fries for dinner. I forgot to buy groceries while I was out earlier today. Yes, I know that was STUPID. Oh and the rain is back.
6:55pm – My FB feed is pretty much dead, sorry. I’m going to go play video games while I still have power, and hope something fun gets posted by the time I get back.
7:45pm – TWC is reporting 20 thousand people are apparently without power near West Palm Beach. I still have power… for the moment.
8:03pm – NWS shows Matthew not making a direct hit on Orlando, but still shows it looping around to effect Central Florida early next week. Great.
8:17pm – Reuters is reporting 180 people dead on the island nation of Haiti. Over a dozen in the same village.
8:32pm – Orlando Sentinel has a round-up of various county by county forecasts for the storm
9:06pm – NWS office in Melbourne is still showing Orange County under a Hurricane Warning through tonight.
9:21pm – Whatever undiagnosed stomach ailment I have has been bothering me all evening. I think it’s psychosomatic from the stress of the storm.
10:01am – Orlando Weekly is reporting that all state offices are closed, all tolls are lifted and that some hospitals in coastal areas were evacuated.
10:03am – The University of Miami is officially on “emergency lock down” – all classes are cancelled, and all retail and offices are closed for the day. Limited dining service is available in the two campus dining halls as long as weather permits, MREs will be available in the Residential Hall lobbies for times when the cafeterias close.
10:20am – Orlando International Airport announced it will be suspending all flights in\out of their airports at 8pm.
11:15am – Sunrail suspends all service through Monday (they don’t offer weekend service)
11:20am – Universal announces it is closing all parks including Wet N’ Wild and CityWalk at 3pm. Disney parks are apparently still open as well with guests going about enjoying their day despite the weather (at the moment is light rain with relatively calm winds).
11:30am – Theme Park Tourist posted that all Disney Parks will close at 5pm, Legoland Florida will close at 5pm as scheduled and SeaWorld will close at 2pm.
12:14pm – TWC is predicting 5-7” of rain through Friday night with wind of 40-50mph with gusts of about 60-65mph. It is not expected to make landfall over Orlando, but we are still under a “Hurricane Warning.”
12:43pm – Not currently raining out, but the winds are strong. The proverbial calm before the storm.
7:34pm – I was going to pack my bags around 2 o’clock this moring and take the first plane to…I had no idea. That’s why I’m still here. I may regret this decision later this week.
8:31pm – My alma mata, the University of Miami, has announced that all classes at Coral Gables\Rosenthal campuses will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday. The medical campus will remain open. The UM-FSU game slated for Saturday will go on as planned because – duh – priorities.
9:15pm – It’s been raining (much of it heavy) off and on for most of the evening with gusty winds and occasional flashes of lightning. These are just the periphery storms – the main action doesn’t start until tomorrow.
10:50pm – Watching the “Live Feed” of FOX 13’s “county by county” forecast for Florida. Orlando will either get nothing…or take a direct hit. How comforting.
11:17pm – Latest NWS forecast models now show a direct hit over Orlando. Other guides have it staying off shore. TWC is calling for heavy rain\thunder to begin around 3am so I better get to bed.
1:45am – Okay, so I was wrong, there’s been a HEAVY downpour for past half hour.
2:05am – Rain has stopped, but the whole condo is lit up by intermittent flashes of light which are getting brighter and closer together. I think another round of rain is coming.
2:17am– Called it! Heavy rain, deafening thunder and extremely bright flashes of lightening. This goes on for a while, but I fell asleep as soon as it stopped so that’s good.
4:30am– That was a quick nap. More rain, but no lightshow this time.
5:19am– All watches and warning for Central Florida have been cancelled. The storm is now passing over Savannah, Georgia… but Orlando is expected to get another 1-2” of rain this afternoon from an unrelated system.
6:27am – Sunrise, Orlando was lucky – EXTREMELY lucky.
10:35am – waiting for the weather to get here. I can’t really go anywhere today so I’m staying inside to do laundry (I didn’t plan it that way, honest).
11:55am – Gov. Rick Scott (R) declares a pre-emptive “State of Emergency” for 34 of 67 counties (including Orange).
12:35pm – Finish lunch, nothing is happening outside yet so I take second load out of dryer, strip sheets off bed and throw them into the washer. Not exciting, but I can’t have a 5-hour gap in this post.
-2:15pm – Tropical Storm Warning issued for Charleston, SC, as outer bands arrive in Southwestern\Central Florida flooding reported along Tampa Bay beaches, and I’m… playing some mindless cow clicker on FB.
-4:57pm – It has started. #TropicalStormColin Pouring rain for nearly an hour straight now. I’m not worried, I’m sure at least a few of my friends are pulling for me…right?
-5:33pm – Receive an e-mail from apartment management saying to stock batteries\non-perishable food and stay tuned to local TV\radio for news. Also take furniture off patios\balconies which I immediately did (they were wet, but otherwise undamaged).
-6:55pm – Scott reissues “State of Emergency,” mobilizes Florida National Guard. Also, my FB post from 2hrs ago only has 2 “likes.”
-8:16pm– Weather Channel is predicting 3-5 inches of rain for most of Florida. Storm is expected to make landfall near Tallahassee and make its way to Charleston and Cape Hatteras by Tuesday afternoon before heading back to sea.
-9:29pm – Rain seems to have stopped for the moment, but Reuters news service is reporting the Tampa Bay area is reporting widespread power outages, major street flooding and a lot of people dismissing this as “just” a tropical storm.
10:07pm – The rain is back, winds continue as they were. FB post is up to 5 “likes.”
10:37pm – Sarasota Herald-Tribune is reporting only “sporadic power outages, minor street flooding and some beach erosion.”
11:04pm – Rain sounds like its stopped again. I can’t guarantee any sleep, but I’m probably going to go to bed now.
11:09pm – Go into bedroom to discover my bed is unmade…because my sheets are still in the washer. I’m up for another hour at least.
11:29pm – I’m pretty sure everything is done for the night. The rain is gone and the winds while still gusty sound like they’ve calmed down significantly.
Woken up by “Housekeeping” trying to enter my room at 8:55am. Apparently, I was already checked-out…even though check-out wasn’t for another two hours. There is no “going back to sleep” after that. I get a shower, get dressed and check the weather on my phone – no rain through about 3pm so I pack the rain gear back in my bag and head over to check-out (for real).
The grass and sidewalks were still wet from the rain overnight, but the Custom House (Check-In) was almost directly across from my building so it took less than five minutes to walk there and since there was no line to speak of (almost unheard of at Disney) it took nearly half that time to get my final printout.
The walk from the Custom House to Old Port Royale (food court) was still ten minutes, but the breakfast area is chaos – long lines at both the food stations and the cashier. I stare at the menu board until I figured out what I wanted and ended up behind a guest who ordered the exact same thing as I did the Breakfast Cuban sandwich and also argued with the woman on register when his family’s order came up saying they “shorted him” one sandwich.
Don’t worry, kitchen staff got back at him by making a charred, lukewarm and nearly inedible sandwich… and then she gave it to me instead.
I try to make a joke to the cashier to make myself feel better, and she looks at me like I’m completely nuts. She tries to get me to take my receipt for some reason and then casually puts it on my tray as if it is some kind of super magical gift from her to me.
She also makes a gesture with her hand like she’s glad to be rid of me, and when I ask her if there was a problem she kind of looks at me in a panic, raises her hand and snaps her fingers stammering “M-manager!”
I turn around a second later and large black man was standing less than a foot away from me blocking my only path. “What is the problem over here?” Naturally, she points over at me because I MUST be the bad guy because that’s the general rule around here.
Now I get to explain to him exactly why I’m holding up the line when I know full well he’s likely going to understand me about as well as she did.
“Is there a problem here,” he asked me.
“Honestly, I have idea what either of you are talking about. I’m just here for breakfast.”
“I was called over here for a reason,” he said eying my suspiciously.
I have no idea what happened, but suddenly I could see the gears shifting in his head. He didn’t say it (or anything else for a few seconds). He didn’t need to – it was all over his face.
“A-are you all right? You look like you need some HELP there.”
Sorry, I forgot I was Autistic for a second there, but I give him credit for at least trying to be subtle (a courtesy I’m not always extended), but he just sapped any appetite I had straight out of me.
“With what,” I asked him pointedly while trying not to be overtly rude. “I got my food, I paid for it so what do I ‘need help’ with?”
“Um with your, um, tray,” he said trying to justify his being there without upsetting the crazy person. “I mean we don’t want to spill your coffee.”
“I can handle it,” I said as I picked up my tray without spilling anything (because a lot of people burn themselves on ICED coffee). “But, thank you anyway. Can I go now?”
I wander around the packed seating area for several minutes before seeing a family exit a smaller room off to the side of the dining area. As I tried to enter the room (which was just as crowded as the one I was currently standing in), an old man in the same brownish uniform as the other workers stands in the doorway blocking my way.
“Oh, you want a TABLE,” he said essentially ‘pushing’ me back into the main dining room. “Well, did you try LOOKING for one?”
I love how STUPID people think I am. First I’m incapable of carrying my own tray, now I’m too oblivious to think to look for an open table in a crowded food court. Trust me, if all the chairs outside weren’t still wet from the rain overnight than I would have eaten out there (as the floor space inside was largely eaten up by gigantic strollers).
“Ah, there we go,” he said as a table miraculously opened up immediately around the corner from where we were standing.
He pulls a spray bottle and towel out of his apron and wipes down the tabletop before letting me put my bags down on the chair across from me (which was a godsend since my shoulders were killing me from carrying them around all this time).
I sat down, and as expected my sandwich was cold but more edible than it looked. More importantly (from my perspective anyway), my iced coffee still had a fair amount of ice in it which I’m choosing to count as a minor victory.
I leave the food court through the gift shop (because it’s Disney – everything has a “gift shop”) and ran my way across the small parking lot to the bus stop to a waiting Disney Springs bus. When I got to the stop, it was as packed as the food court I just left with a long line of people waiting to board (on a Friday morning?) while the driver secured a scooter inside her bus. I just liked the chance to drop at least one of my bags and catch my breath.
“Good morning,” the driver said cheerily as I entered the bus.
“A little late for that,” I sighed exasperatedly.
She looks at me, shakes her head and says “honey, it’s only 10 o’clock – still plenty of ‘morning’ left.”
God, it literally felt like it was 2pm. Fortunately, the trip from Old Port Royale to Disney Springs was less than fifteen minutes and if I thought about it sooner, I probably could have taken a boat from Marketplace across to Westside.
Yes, I know it’s “only” a mile or so from the Disney buses to the Lynx “Super Station,” but it FEELS like an eternity – particularly when carrying two large heavy bags. Whatever, as long as it isn’t raining (or for my readers in the Northeast snowing), it was all good…until I got to said station and saw the bright magenta colored bus pulling out of stop “11.”
The wait for the next bus probably seemed longer than it actually was, but the dark skies and chilly lake breeze made the desolate station seem colder then it was too. I counted out eight quarters in my pocket (all other coins were left on the dresser in the room) as I reminded myself that the bus was heated or at least warmer than it felt out in the station.
When it did arrive, I put my $2 into his machine and moved towards the back of the bus. However, as I made it to the end of the inward facing seats, the bus lurched forward essentially forcing me into the seat as he pulled around the circle to exit.
Normally, there’s an announcement about approaching the transfer stop at SeaWorld, but not this trip and apparently no-one else was getting on/off there so I ended up disembarking at the next stop. I started walking back to the apartment I thought “its 5-til noon, this morning can only get better from here.”
That’s when I felt the drops start to fall on my head – a perfect time to have my rain gear tucked away in my bag…