Sunday October 23, 2005 - Cleanup Day 1


Hurricane It's basically gone. It is still pretty cloudy and windy. I would estimate the winds at about 50 kts in the morning.
Plans Dry off and start cleaning up.
Expectations We are not leaving today. Maybe in the next 2 or 3 days.

The storm is still going pretty strong. It is still tropical storm force winds. The winds are still from the south. Since the storm surge and waves are now down quite a bit we are able to venture out a bit more than yesterday. Basically everything between the ocean and the waterfront rooms is now gone. All the walls on the waterfront of the hotel have been washed away. But the really surprising thing is that for all the damage that was done there doesn't appear to be any real structural damage other than the lost main dock. Shortly after daybreak the hotel staff begins pouring in to start the cleanup. Even the guests lend a hand. It is amazing how fast things are being cleaned up. Someone has learned that collect calls are getting through from the pay phone across the street from our hotel. A line quickly forms as people become quickly frustrated learning that they can not make a collect call to cell phones. Those that can make it through pass on names and numbers for others.

At around 9 AM T and I decide to take a little stroll towards the downtown area. The roads are passable and we see lots of scooters and a few cars out. Everything is closed down and there are only a few people out. The places right on the water look pretty devastated, but just across the street things look much better. It is a bit messy down by the Palace hotel and the supermarket. There is a pileup of cars from a rental car place in the middle of the street.

The cleanup is proceeding amazingly quickly. The difference from only 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM is huge. Most of the big debris is out of the courtyard. Now it is just a matter of doing the finishing touches by cleaning up the dirt and leaves. At around 10 AM there is a breif but heavy rain shower. Lots of people run out to "shower" in the rain. Those who missed it crowd the roof and bathe in the puddles that are left over. The kitchen is back up and running now and we have a warm chicken lunch. It is a huge improvement over the cold sandwiches and candy we have been living off of. Shortly after lunch there are reports of some sparking wires. After a few fixes the generator is up and running. At 1:30 PM we get power back. Everyone rushes inside to recharge batteries and download their pictures.

As the afternoon wears on we begin to get a bit bored and everyone starts to venture out into the streets. By 3:30 PM the cleaning of the streets begins in earnest with the passing of a big front end loader. It clears a path down one side of the road. Soon after traffic starts to pick up. It is still mostly scooters and bicycles, but more and more cars are now making it through. Eventually we all make it back to the hotel and the rumours start flying. Some people are saying the airport will be operational tomorrow, others say it won't be until Friday or Saturday. Everyone has conflicting information and no one seems to know what is going on. Eventually we grow tired of the rumours and just sit around and enjoy a dry day. This afternoon we also see the first of the helicopters. Once the first one comes there is a steady stream of them coming in. Eventually the sun makes a very breif appearance. Someone is spreading rumours of a new hurricane "Alpha", initial thoughts are that they're joking. We head to bed full from a good dinner and slightly less dirty than we were in the morning.

The most amazing thing about today is that less than 12 hours after the hurricane has ended Scuba Club is only missing running water and the dive operations. Other than that this place is operational.