Skip to comments.At peace with the storm
Posted on 09/14/2019 4:47:27 PM PDT by robowombat
At peace with the storm Deborah Buckhalter Sep 13, 2019
Mary Mellon, like this old chimney of the home she lived in, is still standing strong after Hurricane Michael destroyed the house.
Mary Mellon and this old chimney survived Hurricane Michael, the storm that destroyed her dwelling on Alliance Road. Both suffered, but both still stand strong. DEBORAH BUCKHALTER/FLORIDAN Mary Mellon
Mary Mellon will be one year closer to her milestone 75th year later this month. She knows shell spend part of that 73rd birthday with family, but she doesnt know where theyll go for the party in 2019. That was an easy decision last September, before Hurricane Michael came through.
Her typical birthday celebrations usually included some time with relatives at the wood-frame house shed called home for nearly a decade.
But theres nothing left of that old house now, except the added-on porch that somehow escaped the brunt of the storm that did so much destruction to the house. She was there, alone, when the storm came through.
Shed carried out a handful of other household chores that day, never dreaming of what was to come.
Id done the laundry, dusted, mopped, got the laundry in, and all that time it was a pretty-looking day. But then the skies darkened and the wind started howling. When the walls to the house started buckling in and out as if they were breathing, she considered heading into the bathroom, where shed often heard was the place to go for safety in a storm, but rejected that idea. Instead, she barricaded herself between her refrigerator and other furnishings in the kitchen. At some point, as trees began to crack outside, her fear rose to its peak. But then a calm surrender took over. She said she folded her arms over her head and gave the moment to God.
As the stormy hours wore on like an attack, some glass shattered with tremendous force into the bathroom where she would have been standing if shed taken refuge there. Shes certain that she would have been killed in that case.
When it was all over, nothing much was left of the old house. The bathroom fixtures were all in place, but its walls were destroyed. She jokes now that she had a porch bathroom left. Eventually, the ruins of the home were scooped into a pile of rubble that sat on the property nearly a year before a federal agency had it removed.
Only one element was left fairly unscathed the old brick chimney still reaches skyward, with just a portion of the brickwork rattled out of place. It is something of a symbol for the property owner, a close relative of Mellon, and for Mellon herself.
Like that old chimney, shes still standing, too, a little worse for the wear, perhaps, but feeling blessed.
Im good, she said. Im alive.
Some post-storm events have challenged that attitude, but it remains unwavering.
With pecan trees down everywhere on the property just off Alliance Road below Cypress, she had purchased a 32-foot travel trailer to live in and moved it to an area near Dellwood-Cypress Road until that land could be cleared of all the storm debris.
But before Christmas of 2018, a flooding rush of water would come along and ruin everything inside. Those things included her childrens baby pictures and everything else she held dear.
Mellon started again, this time buying a 22-foot travel trailer that she was finally able to move onto the Alliance Road location. She had the 32-footer hauled there, too, and will, little-by-little, work through it to see if theres anything to save. Shes not expecting to salvage much but will do her best to find savable treasures.
These days, until the weather cools and she can muster the energy for that, shes putting her life back together in that second travel-trailer. Her bedroom is basically a bed closely surrounded by walls and a very low ceiling-she cant stand up in there, but thats okay she says-shes so weary by the end of the day that shes not ready to do much but step up the three short stairs leading to it and fall in.
Because its cooler outside than in, she receives her visitors on the small porch that survived the storm. Those visitors include her beloved great-grandchildren. Shes bought them a dollhouse to play with. It sits on a corner of the porch. Theres no room in the trailer for it, and not much space for the kids, really, but shes not about to miss out on their company or that of other relatives and friends. She makes do with what shes got right now, and does it with a smile and a sense of peace.
No matter whats left of her belongings crammed into the flooded trailer, Mellon lives by the catch phrase she repeats often when asked about how the storm and flood affected her life.
Im good, she says again. Im alive.
Pleasant to read about a someone who suffered a lot of storm loss and remains upbeat and optimistic.
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