Tiffany the Tiny Home vs Hurricane Irma
You wouldn't believe what it's like living in a tiny home while the biggest hurricane the ATLANTIC OCEAN has ever seen is in our backyard. Hurricane Irma makes Florida look like a splinter poking out of the United States.
I was in the back country backing with my father in Ansel Adams wilderness for the last five days where there were disastrous fires next door to Yosemite. It was like being at a bonfire the entire time with the amount of smoke! Once I got reception, I got a text from my buddy Zach (who's also moving into a tiny with his girlfriend Megan 🙌🙌) about Hurricane Irma. I still had three more days in San Diego for a work conference with my brother. The storm had six days till impact and will just be bad weather at this time.
Before I got home, I started making calls for people to tow Tiffany. Since she weighs 15k pounds, it would take a truck bigger than I have or can afford right now. It wasn't a problem finding someone to do the job but no one wanted to haul her out of the state since they had to make plans for themselves. They were though willing to tow her to a storage unit of larger buildings. So the hunt was on for shelter and my clock was ticking.
Call after call. We started with normal storage units and worked our way to boat warehouses and relationships we had with friends with large warehouses or buildings. No storage unit would take her. We ran into the issue that large units were at full capacity. Another problem was that the size of the units were not tall enough to accommodate her, not to mention that people didn't want the liability. So the only thing to do was strap her down and pray. At least she's got a roof that's rated for 180mph winds.
Our impression was that Tiffany was already made for hurricane weather and equipped with D-rings. One would think this would be standard for a mobile home, especially in Florida. I quickly found out that wasn't the case, so I needed to find someone to weld some D-rings onto the frame of her. Quickly raced around to find a welder that had a portable unit. Got a great recommendation from a local place down the street, love small town Florida. 👌 This took most of Thursday morning. But lets start at the beginning.
It's Wednesday night and I land in Orlando and get home in the middle of the night. So after finding someone with a portable welder, the next step was finding anchors to hook her down on. The scramble to find these anchors began the next morning when stores opened. So you might not know this about Florida but it's filled with old people and mobile homes, shocking I know. 😉
These anchors can range in length and are dug or screwed into the ground and have a loop at the end of them. Then you take cable wire, which is just like basically metal rope, and loop it through the D-rings and into the anchors .
I called all the places we thought would have anchors for mobile homes and RV. We didn't find them anywhere. I would love to know how many of these suckers were sold. At this point, they were expecting it to blow more east and we would only have 40-50 mph winds. I've gone through a lower category hurricane. Tiffany is stout. She can handle it.
I grabbed the outdoor furniture to take to my parent's rental property and prep their home for high wind conditions. While doing this, I was also calling places for wood to board up the 17 windows.
There was no plywood left to board up the windows beside $50 sheets on people selling it on Facebook, along with $10 per gallon water jugs. Sam was able to get tons of food and cat stuff at the store so we were set on that. It's Thursday night now. Stores are closed. Everyone is on their toes. Some Floridians echo "hold my beer". Haha
Our supplies included lots of food that did not require refrigeration, such as: canned food (mostly ravioli :D ), packaged tuna, protein bars, nuts (unsalted), olive and coconut oil, and as much water as Sam could find. She tried several times to find water, and eventually got lucky and got to Publix as the water shipment was being doled out. We ended up with about 8 gallons of water and 2 gallons of sweet tea just in case. Sam had a few tricks up her sleeve. She knew we needed to have high fat food on hand, hence the oil and nuts. Fat has the most dense calorie count and keeps you fullest for the longest time. The nuts were unsalted just in case we were short on water, they wouldn't dehydrate us. We both downloaded Firechat and Zello in order to keep in touch with the people we cared about who were not able to evacuate These apps work without cell service. Sam got baby wipes just in case we couldn't shower. We stocked up on food for Oliver and got him a soft carrying case to take him on the plane with us (spoiler alert: he hated it).
So the only things we could do were "myths for hurricanes", so we started taping our windows with tape and traps. Flipped our picnic table over. Started taking things down and put in boxes or in the tub. We watered the plants. We got Oliver's stuff together. We were up till 5 am, Hurricane Irma is a full category 5 hurricane. Katrina was at 4.9. Traffic reports were high. The hurricane was still heading for the east coast. We ended up getting a couple hours of sleep and waking up at 8 am Friday. Oliver was so tired since he always has to know what we are doing.
Luckily my brother Ryan, who is great with traveling, had been booking better flights for us to get out of the state more quickly since our safety takes priority over our home.
So we quickly packed up the last things we needed if we got stuck it in Sam's car since it does get better gas mileage and can zip around more easily than the truck. Media was showing stories of traffic for double digit hours. Time is a crazy thing and was our enemy here. So we put the last pieces of outdoor furniture in the bed of the Tacoma and lined it up parallel with Tiffany on one side. This way the Tacoma would take the hit if something was to fly at the house. Since you could throw a Tacoma off a cliff and it still somehow run, I knew she would do us well protecting that side of Tiffany. 💪
People were evacuating all over the state. At the end of this, it will be the biggest evacuation in US history. As ironic as it sounds, what an incredible thought that is. We weighed our options. We made some calls and nothing good came out of it. Hurricanes are so unpredictable you don't know how it's going to turn out. It goes back to the old saying "Mother nature doesn't care about you sometimes." One could say she is having hot flashes lately.
We decided we need a couple more things at the store for Oliver and decided heading to Orlando for our Saturday flight was the best choice at this option. Airports were closing and shutting down flights. There might be crazy traffic and we would have to get up early to get to the airport for traffic as well. Our priority was to get out of the state for safety. Irma was no joke with 185 mph winds.
When we got on the road, there was no traffic whatsoever. We were shocked. I was pretty upset at this point since I could possibly have gone hunting for more wood for the windows. But on the flip side, if we were to get stuck due to flights being canceled, we would be in a traditional home more central and north from the hurricane. It was a catch-22 with a 50/50 gamble.
Ryan was able to get us on flights a couple hours earlier in Orlando which already had announced it was shutting down the airport Saturday. But Sam and I had to split up so she took Oliver and took the 7 am flight and I took the 9 am. At this point, Hurricane Irma had jumped back up to a category 5 and was heading straight for the west coast. It was headed for the Tampa area with warmer water, an hour and 20-minute drive from Tiffany. I drive there a lot for work. I started to understand how serious it was when FEMA issued a quote to the people that didn't evacuate to basically say "you're on your own".
I'm currently writing this on a plane and am not sure what the storm will do to our home. Maybe I should have stayed. Maybe I should have checked for the D-rings before all this to have more time to try and find anchors. Maybe I should have gone back and continued searching for anchors and more wood. Maybe I made the right choice by making sure Sam and Oliver left safely.
I am thankful for our safety but scared for our home, honestly. And I already hear my dad's words in my head: "These things are replaceable". And he's right. As well crafted as Tiffany is, our tiny home is replaceable. It goes back to why we did this. We got rid of all our stuff to become more minimal yet only to obsess over the home we put our fewer things we did find value in.
I wonder what in our evolution makes us carry a home at such a high position on the totem pole. Could it be that we couldn't achieve new land or "home" as often as we can now with planes and boxes on wheels?
During our hike with my father there was a guy named Josh and he quoted a book that talked about how nature works in circles. I don't have the quote, but it talked about how the trees are circular in shape. The water cycles in a circle. The circle earth revolves in a circle around the sun which circles around other galaxies. And then it went into how we use a lot of boxes in our life. We wake up in our box (home) by picking up our box phones to turn off our alarm. We get our cereal in a box or most commonly throw it in a box to heat up on the go. Then we get in our box on wheels to go to another box for most of the day. Then typically we sit in boxes in that box cubicle.
It went into much greater detail than that but it's ironic to think back and look at this circular hurricane coming toward our box home on wheels. Whatever comes out of this I will continue to learn this game called life.
"There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there."