Friday, June 29, 2012

Debby Downer

She just came out of nowhere.

When I left work on Friday, the word on the street was that it was supposed to rain all weekend. I don't think any notion of the word "tropical disturbance" was even mentioned.

I spent that rainy Saturday thrift shopping and going to the local tavern with friends to play board games and enjoy a refreshing summer ale.There had still been no conversation or regards to a named tropical system in the gulf, and no warning that it may or may not be wreaking havoc in our county within the next 24 hours.

It didn't stop raining all night.
I woke up Sunday morning to howling winds and sideways rain. I took a look outside and still didn't really think too much of the Florida summers you get kind of used to crazy rain and wind. I did notice the tide was higher than usual and that a few waves were big enough to spray water over the seawall.

Prateek and I went downtown around noon to run a few errands and have some lunch.

After a while, I noticed the wind was a little out of control. . I checked my phone's weather app and there were 5 notifications - a tropical storm watch, a high wind advisory, a high surf advisory, a flash flood watch, and a tornado watch.


Enter: Debby.

I consider Floridians some of the most prepared in the country when it comes to storms and hurricanes. We have our hurricane preparedness guides posted on our refrigerators. We have storm procedures at work in which everyone is educated on an annual basis. We have a special storm supply of water, food, batteries, and generators. We have hurricane shutters custom made for our windows so that they can be put up to protect our possessions. 

How did we not know about this?? 

My street hadn't flooded in 20 years, according to the neighbors, so I thought that we'd be fine.
Thank the baby Jesus we took Prateek's truck out that afternoon. In the two hours that we were gone, the streets leading up to our neighborhood had turned into rivers about a foot and a half deep..not something my little Civic could have handled without facing it's demise.

This is supposed to be a yard.

We barely got through the estuary that was now our street, and I had an apocalyptic pit in my stomach thinking about what I would face once we got to the house.

The waves were crashing relentlessly against the dock and the seawall at the house, with each crash sending water flying into the yard and rocking the entire dock back and forth.
And it was still two hours until high tide.

Our area is circled above. With the water being pushed into the Bay with no way for it to escape and the 12 inches of rain on top of that, it was no wonder we needed an Ark.

By the time high tide came rolling in, a pylon from the boat lift had broken off and we had lost a few planks. Sea grass was collecting on the seawall from the waves. And the floodwater on my street and the surrounding streets had risen at least another good foot.

Bye-Bye Seawall

What's a resident to do when they're stuck in their home?

Kayak down their street of course!

Making the best of a horrible situation, we set out to explore our now-underwater neighborhood on our kayaks (mine ironically being made by Hurricane.) We saw where water was entering a few houses and lost count on how many flooded-out vehicles there were.

After we got home, our cable and internet went out. We kept track of Debby, street closures, and other storm updates through Twitter (@TBOCom, @TB_Times, @StormTeam8WFLA) and Facebook (Bay News 9, ABC Action News).
I even got a few of my photos uploaded to the news website! I think I may have a future in the press. Call me, Bay News 9.

We got a bit of cabin fever after being stuck in the house for the next 24 hours due to flooding.
We took naps. We cleaned the house. We gave Jadoo a bath. We stared out into the choppy Bay, helplessly watching the waves crash 7-8 feet over the seawall and into our backyard. I taught Prateek how to use Instagram. I ate my feelings in the kitchen.

3 days after the rain had begun falling, the floodwaters finally receded and clean up began.
Besides the lost boat lift pylon, a handful of lost deck planks and beams, sea wall erosion, and certain death of an extensive chunk of the lawn from being saturated in seawater and sitting underneath hundreds of pounds of seagrass, we were fine. 

Silver lining? We had no water in the house, never lost power, and had no downed trees. That's a lot more than I can say for some of our neighbors and other residents of the Tampa Bay area. 

I'm fairly certain at this point with the tornado hitting my hometown and now with Debby, I've had my fair share of mother nature's wrath for a while. 

Thank you to everyone for your concern and phone calls!
Cleanup has begun, so if you're bored and want to come pick up some storm debris and smelly seagrass, head on over to Snell Isle/Shore Acres -- we'll put you to work!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sarees, Bhangra, and Malai Kofta

Working for an upscale hotel company, I've attended and assisted plenty of Indian weddings to ensure all details were complete, from confirming that the tables were set with all provided decor and double checking that the horse was properly attended to after the Baraat.

I have not, however, had the pleasure of attending an Indian wedding as a guest....until this past weekend!

Prateek's cousin got married at a beautiful banquet facility on the Henry Ford Museum grounds in Michigan. P's sister graciously let me borrow some of her traditional clothes for the Sangeet and the Ceremony/Reception, and dressed me from head to toe with gorgeous bangles and jewelry to match the stunning Salwar Kameez and Sari.

Ready for the Sangeet
Wedding Sari

The detail on the back of this Sari is exquisite!

The bride was breathtaking, the food was delicious, and the celebrating lasted late into the night with a mix of American Top 40 and Indian favorites. Even a few I recognized, like 
Beware: these songs will get stuck in your head. Watch and listen at your own discretion.

All the weight I gained from stuffing my face with Naan and Malai Kofta was burned off by the end of the weekend from the hours upon hours of dancing and jumping around with the nephews and nieces of the family. 

Congratulations to Neha and Rob, I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!