I have been keeping a journal of our experience with Charley. I will copy and paste it here. We are doing fine. Our town made it through the storm a lot better off than did the towns just a bit west of us. I know we were very lucky and we feel very badly for the people who lost everything.
Friday, August 13, 2004: 6:30-8:00pm – height of storm passes through Lake Placid. Looks like we may have had gusts up to hurricane strength with sustained winds probably at least 50-60mph. For quite a while, the rain was practically horizontal. Trees outside our house were swaying and bending, but thankfully not breaking.
6:45pm – we lose electric power
Saturday, August 14, 2004: 9:00am – after making sure the house did not sustain any damage from Charley we leave for Ft. Pierce to find a motel with electricity (and air conditioning) for the night Leaving Lake Placid, highway 70 West is closed west of US 27. This is the road that leads into Arcadia, and I suspect the authorities don't want people who don't live there heading that way. Highway 70 West is backed up from its intersection with US 27 all the way to highway 29, a distance of about 5 miles. Between Lake Placid and Okeechobee there is a constant stream of westbound traffic along highway 70 and there is a huge traffic jam through Okeechobee with westbound traffic barely moving. These are all the people who evacuated from the west coast heading back home.
Sunday, August 15, 2004 1:00pm – returned to Lake Placid. Just outside of Ft. Pierce there was an electric sign advising that highway 70 was closed at US 27 and advising motorists to seek alternate routes. This is over an hour from US 27. Traffic was still extremely heavy in Okeechobee. We were able to take the back roads to US 98 to get us home, avoiding the traffic mess along highway 70.
Most of the Lake Placid area seems to have gotten away with relatively minor damage, compared to other areas of the state that were more in the path of Charley’s eye. A lot of tree branches down, some minor property damage. We saw one awning blown into an orange grove. We saw one house with a tree blown onto its roof.
My wife's daycare Center fared pretty well. One window was blown out and another cracked. Other than that, there were a lot of branches and leaves in the parking lot and playground, but otherwise they came out OK. Since there was no electricity there, we took a lot of food out of the refrigerator and freezer and gave it to the folks in the neighborhood who were able to grill it before it spoiled.
7:45pm – our power returned 49 hours after we lost. Most of Lake Placid is still without power. We invited our daughter and her family (who were still without power) to stay with us until their power was restored.
There is a curfew in Highlands County tonight from 9:00pm to 7:00am tomorrow morning.
Monday, August 16, 2004 10:00 – phone service returns. We are now back to normal. The daycare Center got its electricity back, but is still without phone service.
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