Saturday, August 22, 2009

Battening down the hatches

I mentioned yesterday that Hurricane Bill is on its way. As it gets closer the weatherman has a better idea of where exactly it is going to pass. At one point they thought it might come straight up the Bay of Fundy, but now they're saying that it will be south of Nova Scotia but north of Sable Island, a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. It's supposed to hit southwest Nova Scotia sometime overnight and be in this area by Sunday morning.

Currently the weatherman is saying we will get 70 to 110 mm of rain in a few hours, for the metrically-challenged that is three to four inches.

Four inches!!!

Down on the South Shore (where I was earlier in the week) they are expecting up to six inches. Also we'll get high winds, up to 80 klicks/50 mph, but more down on the South Shore.

But wait, there's more! That big storm that hit Ontario a couple of days ago, complete with major tornadoes and one dead? That's due here this afternoon! Two storms in one! Oh goody!!

And for the icing on the cake:

Yesterday I noticed wads of pink insulation on the ground by the woodpile on the west side of the house. Walking up to take a closer look, wondering where it came from, I heard something galloping away through the underbrush. Couldn't see it, but by the sound it was definitely bigger than a squirrel.

Look up, way up.

There are four dormers on the roof, each one with board and batten walls on the sides. Last fall, Mike and Fritz were going to re-roof the north side of the house and in preparation they removed all the battens from the north-facing dormers. Winter came early and they never did the roofing, they also never replaced the battens. Instead they piled them up in the porch and on the ground on the north side of the house.

These are not ordinary battens. The gaps between boards are six inches wide, so the battens are eight or more inches wide. I saw those old battens when I arrived here in May but I never knew what they were, I thought they were old scrap lumber. When I started stacking firewood by the house, I used them to keep the wood off the ground. That's right folks, they are now sitting under almost two cords of firewood.

So that pink insulation? Some critter---most likely a raccoon---tore it out of the dormer walls where the battens used to be. That critter---most likely a raccoon---had to tear through thick building foil to get at it, so all the exposed building foil is now ripped open from top to bottom, with pink insulation bleeding out onto the roof. Some of it that critter---most likely a raccoon---has hauled away to do with whatever it had planned, some of it I caught him or her in the act of hauling away yesterday afternoon.

There's staging in place for the roofing job, so yesterday afternoon I went out there to examine the damage. Yup, wide open, both walls of both north-facing dormers, lots of hurricane rain will likely go straight in through all those holes. But it's scary out on that staging, my balance sure isn't what it used to be and I'm scared of heights at the best of times.

Of course, I realized right away that the battens were missing and a few seconds later where those battens were most likely to be now. Oh dear. I checked the porch and there were a few still piled there, but about half were missing.

I started phoning around. In a pinch I could steel my courage and go out there and nail the few battens remaining back in place, but at the very least I needed someone to be there to call 911 in case I fell. I left a long message for Fritz, I called Mike and Peter and Chris. Peter called back. He said he was busy, but one way or another he'd arrange for either himself or his wife Nancy to be there if I couldn't get anyone else.

Yesterday evening I called Fritz again and he said he'd be up first thing in the morning to do the job. He wondered what kind of critter would do such a thing.

I said, Raccoon?

He wondered if it were mice. I had to laugh out loud.

I imagined a platoon of mice ripping through that building foil and hauling out two and three foot long batts of pink insulation. If this was done by mice, then be afraid, very very afraid!

True to his word he arrived at 9am today ready to roll. All the battens I could find I had already stacked by an upstairs window that we could crawl out of onto the staging. Fritz went out to take a closer look at the damage and then at the battens we still had, and figured that some wood shingles might substitute OK. This was only meant to be a temporary cover to get through the hurricane.

There used to be a pile of new wood shingles in the porch, but Mike had taken them earlier for another job. He had also taken the ladder. And he was away for the weekend. So Fritz and I crawled around under the house looking for broken old shingles. We managed to scrounge a stack of them, then while he was out on the staging nailing battens back in place, I went hunting for roofing nails to use with the shingles.

Within a half hour Fritz had all the holes covered up, and nobody fell off the roof. He had a busy day scheduled in the Valley so after a glass of water and some conversation he left. I met with Sheila for our daily dogwalk and discussed preparations for the hurricane. For sure the power will go out, so anything I need to do before that happens I have to attend to right away, as the first storm is due later this afternoon. The phone might go out too.

I think I have enough food, I should probably get a bit more drinking water as Mike's well has an electric pump. Nothing I can do about the lights, I have kerosene lamps but no kerosene, but fortunately the stove is propane and I just filled the tank a couple of weeks ago. Should charge the head lamp batteries so at the very least I can read in bed.

I have already turned the kayak upside down. It is covered by a tarp, but there's high winds expected so the tarp might not stay in place; upside down the kayak won't take in water. And maybe I'll get a couple more icepacks out of Mike's freezer for my cooler. I just froze eight quarts of strawberries last month, I may have to make a whack of jam on Monday when the storms are gone.

Gonna be a hot time on the mountain tonight...


Barbara Anne said...

Oh, my goodness! Am glad you battened down the hatches in time and had help to do it. Intrepid Anne to the rescue again!

When Hurricane Isabel came thru here in 2003, we were without power for 9 days.

When Gaston came thru in 2004, my mother's neighborhood had 10" of rain in a few hours. Yikes!

As one of the metrically rebellious, I thank you!

Stay safe!! Hugs!!!!!!

20th Century Woman said...

I thought of you this morning when I heard the news about Bill. I wondered whether you would get a lot of it. I hope it turns out to be milder than predicted.

Keep warm and dry, and enjoy the strawberries.

Annie said...

Hey! I'm still here, no damage yet, the storm is still making its way up the coast but this area is no longer on alert. Pretty wet (outside, not inside!) but otherwise OK.

Thanks for well wishes, Barbara and 20CW!

Barbara Anne said...

Good to hear from you! Fingers crossed that all stays well.

I posted again on your knitting notebook post. Take a look and I still hope the notebook will show up.


Annie said...

I just biked down to the shore to see the waves, way down the Bay I can see the back side of the hurricane, there's sunlight down there! It's not over till it's over, but the end is literally in sight...

You're a poet Barbara Anne! Thanks for the poem! When I'm down about the notebook, I'll just read your poem to cheer me up!

Wisewebwoman said...

Bill is heading my way now (Avalon Peninsula) we just battened down the hatches and took all furniture off the deck but think it is going to be milder than first forecast.
I hope your emergency roof held up!

Barbara Anne said...

Glad you got a laugh from my little poem, Anne! I used to read Dr. Seuss to our sons, so know the rhythm well. Still hoping!

I'm looking forward to reading how Bill treated you, your little home, and the rest of NS.