Sunday, July 25, 2010

That Time of Year

by Leann

When you live on the Gulf Coast, hurricane season changes your routine. These days, the first thing I do when I wake up is check "Hurricane Central" on my local news. This is supposed to be an active storm year since there is no El Nino. I must say, the experts are probably right. Three storms in the Gulf already. We've had plenty of rain, more than I can ever remember.

My history with tropical storms is not good. I was too naive when we first moved here to know that even a tropical depression can bring lots of misery. In 1979, a disturbance dumped about 40--yes FORTY--inches of rain on us in about a four day span. I recall that when the power went out and it got sticky hot in the middle of the night, I went downstairs to get a drink. And stepped into water in my kitchen. Silly me thought the dishwasher had malfunctioned. No. Our house was absorbing some of those 40 inches. It has to go somewhere, right?

My first rip-roaring hurricane was Alicia--maybe 1981? Not sure. I stayed. Never even considered leaving. My husband was out of town on business and my father was visiting. That's when I learned my father isn't all that brave. He got so so quiet. I had to at least sound brave. My kids were small and needed me to be in charge and reassuring. Everyone huddled around the battery-operated radio while the winds slammed and banged and whooshed. You can bet I never stayed again. In fact, I have made my way up I-45 running away from storms too many times to count. Kids and pets and pictures. That's all you need to take. That's all there's room for once you cram the kids and the pets into the vehicle.

Ike hit us two years ago. We lost our roof, our gutters but worst of all, a huge elm in the backyard. I still miss that tree. If that thing had fallen in the other direction, we would have lost our house, too. But we were very lucky. I watched the crazy weather people from Dallas where I was staying with friends during the storm. I brought the pets--not great travelers, really--but the kids are grown and gone, so I had room to bring more pictures and my quilts and cross stitch pieces. One of my cross stitch pieces took three years to make, so of course I brought it with me.

What about you? What natural disasters have you lived through? What happens where you are? And answer me this. Why do newscasters go outside in a hurricane? Do they think we don't know that it's raining and blowing and plain dangerous?