Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hurricane Season!

Well, it's summer, and that means HURRICANE SEASON! I used to think it was just a chance for the merchants to make money in the off-season, by scaring us natives into buying batteries, tarps and bottled water. Ever since 2004 when Charley hit, we take it all a bit more seriously. At first it seemed to be a non-event like so many others. It wasn't but a Category 2, and it was headed north of us anyway. Then, on August 13th, as we sat down to lunch and some sports, the weather man broke in to breathlessly announce that Charley had veered south and was coming in too close for comfort. About the time we absorbed that news, he added that it was upgraded to a Cat 3. My hubby and older sons headed to the garage to prepare plywood for the windows, and while they were out there Charley was upgraded to Cat 4! Yikes, this was getting serious! They put the plywood sheet over the last window in a fine, sharp rain, like needles on the skin, and then the electricity went off. Hurricane Charley blew sideways to the house, and a wooded lot beside us spared us quite a bit, but we watched out the front door as tree tops swirled in circles, all around one way, back around the other, SNAP - and the whole top of the tree crashed to the ground. Then the wind veered around straight at the house and we rushed to shut the door and put towels under it to keep the rain from blowing under - it veered again and we watched some more.

By evening it was all over. Everyone in the neighborhood emerged wide-eyed from their houses, checking to see that others were ok, comparing notes and looking at all the trees that had either snapped off, or come completely up by the roots. My mother's lavender jacaranda tree had fallen over as if a giant hand had laid it gently down, brushing her front door at the top and a vehicle on each side, harming nothing. Other neighbors weren't so lucky, but no one was injured at least. That night we lit a whole lot of candles and played poker to take our minds off the stifling heat, listening to the concert the happy frogs were giving in the cow pasture out back. The next day everyone got busy, people all over town helping each other clean up yards, distribute ice and water, and tending to each other's needs. We cooked up the food out of the freezer so it wouldn't spoil, sweltering over a camp stove with baggies of ice on our heads. After a couple of days, our electricity was restored, but others waited weeks, and those on wells had not water either. Blue tarps sprouted on roofs like mushrooms. Most of the traffic lights were out, so everyone had to drive very carefully, using the four-way-stop method. Before anyone could recover fully, within the next month, three more hurricanes hit Florida. Then the next year, Wilma hit and we had to put on a new roof after that one. No hurricanes have hit us since, unless you count the winds of change in the insurance industry that hit us hard following the storms! But I no longer look on preparation as an unnecessary hassle. If we don't need the things we've stockpiled, someone else is bound to. When that happens, we all donate gladly, our sincere empathy mixed with relief that we were spared.


thedailydish said...

"That night we lit a whole lot of candles and played poker to take our minds off the stifling heat, listening to the concert the happy frogs were giving in the cow pasture out back."

This line struck me most. Even in adversity, you make the best of things. And sometimes those are the most vivid memories of all.

PS: Congrats on getting published (again)!!!

Ragged Roses said...

Hurricanes always sound exciting, but I know they're not. I remember when I was little visiting Florida and experiencing some of the terrible storms, it was one of the scariest things I can remember. Take care

daffy said...

I'd be terrified, I know I would. Let's hope you stay hurricane free for a long time!
This was a really good read Tracie.

Shimmy Mom said...

I've never been in a hurricane. The closest I've ever had to deal with was the tornadoes when we lived in the St. Louis area. I'm glad that you've always been safe and that you take procautions. Like you said, someone will need help.
Good luck this year. We'll say an extra little prayer that the weather will be forgiving this time.
*hugs* Shimmy Mom

Cherdecor said...

I am sure that going through a hurricane is quite an experience.

I surely do hope that you never have to experience the big ones.

You really do have a gift of organizational thought in your writing! You are blessed, my friend!

Wanda said...

Hi ~~ never experienced a Hurricane, but been in a couple of California earthquakes.

I'm very excited that you are getting published again in Reader's Digest -- That great!!

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

I have lived through lots of hurricanes in south Florida. They were really scary back in the mid-sixties.I pray that you guys will be protected and that we won't have a bad hurricane season this year.

I must tell you..your dancing frogs always make me smile. I must look for some. My yard needs to make me smile.

Tracie said...

Hi Tracie,
Sounds so scary. It's wonderful that no one was hurt and everyone pulled together to help each other out. People really come through for one another when the going gets rough. You're right about being prepared (note to self). We should all have a kit for ourselves or as you so kindly put it - if we don't need the things, someone else is bound to. Now that's the spirit - very lovely one, indeed!
I'll keep you and your community in my thoughts and prayers this hurricane season.

connie said...

We live inland but do suffer the wrath of hurricanes occassionally more like the tornadoes spawned from them. Emergency Preparation is always a good you said if you don't need it, someone else will...good for you!

Sew Anyway said...

After reading this, it was left up on the screen as I went to see about my puppy. Tori passed by, sat down and with her jaw hanging open (in awe) most of the time - she finished reading your post, looked over at me and said, "Well, I am so glad that she was prepared!"

She was most impressed with how everyone helped to clean up and then cooking the food from the freezer and sharing. She would love to have you as a neighbor. :0)


LOUISE said...

Really interesting to hear of your experience. I have only witnessed one hurricane in my life, and that was back in 1987, a storm which hit the south coast of England. I cannot remember what category it was, but is was pretty scary. This sort of event is a rare occurence over here, and I can't begin to imagine how it must affect your lives to endure such thing on a regular basis. Let's hope for no hurricane preparation for you this season, but rest assured if one does strike, all the neighbours will be at hand to help out. x

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