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?

41 comments:

Linda Leszczuk said...

We live in tornado country but never had one land on us (thank you, Lord). I've had some interesting experiences with natural disasters though, as a Red Cross disaster volunteer. I went down after the first hurricane in Florida in 2004 to help with the clean up and ended up riding out the second one in a shelter. Ran a shelter for Katrina evacuees the next year. Mind-boggling.

And all those newscasters standing outside in the middle of a hurricane are idiots. Plain and simple.

Dru said...

We had a Nor'ester a few years back and I remember seeing oceans and oceans of water on what used to be our streets.

I remember a snow storm that closed the city down and we couldn't walk out our building because we were blocked in.

Andrea C. said...

How scary! Thankfully I have never lived through any awful natural disaster! I do remember the earthquake in San Francisco though (1988ish? - when the top highway fell on the bottom). We have family out there and it was a tense 24 hours getting in contact with them (we did and they were fine!)

Laineshots said...

My first natural disaster was a hurricane - in Oregon! I was ten years old, and I remember it all vividly. Trees, roofs, our entire garage--and the roof of our school blew off, so school was closed for two weeks--not at all a bad thing, I thought! Since then I've lived through tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes and floods, but the worst was an experience just like yours, Leann, finding a flood downstairs in the middle of the night. Ugh .

Interesting to think what we'd save, once family and pets are safe. For me, my photos on hard drive, and a book of family recipes my brother hand-wrote for me. I'd miss almost everything else, but could live without it.

Is there anyplace in the US without the risk of such disasters?

Bookwoman said...

There was a tornado that came through my town when I was in college. It nipped the top of one of the buildings. I was a resident assistant in one of the dorms and we had herded everyone into the newest dorm - which later we found out was at one point right in the path of the tornado. Lucky it changed courses.

Many years later when my husband and I were stationed at Ft. Bragg, we were surprised to find the inland town of Fayetteville preparing for a hurricane. They even decided to close schools the next day in anticipation. We thought it strange, but understood better the next morning when we got up the next morning to find three trees had come down during the night. It was a domino effect. They right between our house and the neighbors - just a little to the right and it would fallen through our house. So now, when ever they tell us to prepare, I make sure my disaster kit is up to date.

mary in MO said...

Well, I've lived through tornadoes, wild storms and blizzards in NE and OK. Seeing lightning set an oil storage tank on fire in pouring rain can get your attention! A very mild hurricane in New Hampshire, youngest daughter and I finally went to the concrete barn to sit that out. Hubby was out of town.
Ice storms and wind storms are often dished up here in Missouri.
Tend to just 'batten down the hatches' and weather them out. Since I hate shopping I usually have plenty of supplies laid in, we keep the generator ready.
Last spring a wind storm left us with out electricity for 14 days, and a large tree on the end of the house where my computer and sewing room abide. Earlier this week lightning took out all the phones in the neighborhood for a couple of days...

Anonymous said...

In 1979 we lived just outside of Mobile, Al. We had gone to Melbourne FL to visit family and where there when Hurricaen David went by. Then we were back home for Hurricane Frances. Hubby was working in North Fl so I had to take care of everything. Then I put our daughter (not quite 4 at the time) and loaded our trucfk and left for Fl. Headded back home around midnight. Had to go thru some police check pints to get home and were very surprised to find our home, a 14x70 mobile home still there.

Now here in Fl we went thru 2 hurricane in 3 weeks in 2004.

I do get mad at the tv weather men going overboard for storms that will not have any real effect on us such as this week when Bonnie was going thru as no worse than a big storm. You would have thought we were being hit by a hurricane.

Why the forcasters go out is because they thingkit is cool to do and think that we want it.

Leann Sweeney said...

From what I am reading there is no safe place to live in the US! And we seem to have seen much and survived. I guess Europe has those old beautiful buildings because all the terrible weather goes elsewhere. Or they no how to put things together that LASTS. Bonnie was a spit in the ocean. I think there's some bad stuff to come, though.

Rural View said...

I survived a mild hurricane in Key West in my teens, then helped pick up all the palm fronds that blew everywhere. In the 90s a tornado went through our back yard in Connecticut and took down my favorite tree which landed right in back of my car and Dave's truck. I grew up in Ill. and had seen tornadoes but didn't even think of one until I tried to close the dining room window and felt the pressure. In the Outer Banks a few years ago we were upset when hurricane warnings just south of us closed everything. We walked to the beach where we got sandblasted in the wind. Can't recommend that as a beauty treatment. :)

Charlene said...

Leann, Alicia was 1983. We lived in Deer Park at the time. I remember it well. My first "big" one that I remember was Carla in 1961. As kids, it was exciting but I know it was dangerous and killed 46 people. We waded in water up to our waists in the streets of South Houston. I don't remember why we leaving the safety of our church there.

My cousin lives in Galveston and they had to leave during Ike two years ago. They are back now and their house is fixed (they had flooding on the first floor), but they lost a huge tree in the front yard.

Mare F said...

I've lived through 2 100 year floods in Washington state (that would be the year I left), several severe blizzards, and a couple of ugly tropic depressions when I lived in Clearwater, FL. I did watch a hurricane go out into Tampa Bay, while standing waist deep in the water (clearly not my brightest move, but in my defense I was with my mother and I was 14.)
I can handle snow and cold much better than I can flooding and hurricanes so here I sit in New England watching with concern the weather where my friends reside.
Oh, where do the Weather Channel people go on vacation?

Leann Sweeney said...

Yes, Hurricane Alicia of 1983! I think I WANTED to forget. It was the scariest nights of my life. Isn't it amazing that so many of us have been that close to danger and lived to tell? Seems like my stories aren't so far-fetched after all! :-)

Anonymous said...

Leann, you should move back to Western New York because we have no hurricanes, floods, wildfires, only mild earthquakes a couple times a century (that do no more than rattle the glasses hanging in the rack), virtually no tornadoes, either.

And besides that, you'd be closer to me.

Miss you.
Hugs!!!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Um, you failed to mention SNOW, Lorraine--though I would love to live near you! I get giant hives from being out in the cold--have since I was a kid. I have a photo of me holding an icicle bigger than me at the time. Six foot snow drifts were common in Niagara Falls. Maybe not as bad as a hurricane, but I don't get hives. :-)

Anonymous said...

The snow is not that bad. (Especially if Plow Man comes to visit every time there's more than 2 inches.) It justs keeps you in the house more. But since you live in Humid Texas, you're used to living inside most of the year anyway.

Okay, we'll compromise. Move to Pennsylvania. (You want to move anyway.)

Anonymous said...

When I was visiting some relatives in ebraska there was a tornado. We all went into their root cellar for awhile. It did a lot of damage to the farm buildings but all were safe. Very scary
I was also in Pasadena, Ca when an aftershock from an earthquake shook the house. The bed moved about a foot back and forth. Talk about scary-it was. I am glad I live in Arizona where not many natural disasters happen-just a lot of heat where the temperature doesn't vary much between night and day. ugh
JOYE
JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com

Heather Webber said...

Even Cincinnati was hit by Hurricane Ike! Tons of storm damage (my house got a new roof because of it). It was crazy--I don't know if I could deal with that every summer. You coastal people are brave!

I'd have to grab my Christmas ornaments along with the pictures. And the hard drive. And the bank info. I think I need a bigger car...

Kate Collins said...

Like Rural View, my only brush with a hurricane was in Key West - and that's as close as I ever want to get again. It was truly frightening to look outside and see palm trees horizontal to the ground.
Living in Indiana, we get our share of tornado warnings, but not too many actually hit here. (Did I just say that? JINX!)
I don't think I could live permanently along the Gulf Coast, or any place where I had to keep evacuating. But you raised a great point, Leann. What items are the most important to take with? I'd bet most women would say photos. Wonder what men would choose?

~ Babs ~ The World of book Reviews said...

Luckily here in the upstate of SC, all we usually get is Ice storms or flooding a bit. Never been thru a Tornado until last year. We had one come thru and a our big 53 year old Pecan tree hit our house no one was hurt thank god. I got new siding and a new roof so some good came out of it.

Shannon said...

I was right down the road from you (in Alvin) for both of those storms. With the tropical storm, we had 42" of rain in 24 hours and not a drop in the house...just EVERYWHERE ELSE! We couldn't get off of our street without a boat for days. It's the only time I remember Alvin making the national news without Nolan Ryan's name being mentioned! I've been in N. Texas now for 3 years...not much hurricane worry, just tornadoes. I think I'd rather have the hurricanes...at least you know they are heading your way and you have time to leave.

Leann Sweeney said...

Babs, we have lake property in western (upstate) SC so I cannot wait to build there. And Shannon you have jogged my memory. It was 42 inches in such a short period of time, the rain had no where to go! I did learn that having railroad ties around your shrubs near the house is NOT a good idea. The water just flooded in through those seep holes in the brick from the lakes held in by the ties. Live and learn.

Annette said...

I often ask myself, "Why am I still living in South Louisiana?" I have gone through countless tropical depressions and tropical storms. I went through 2 actual hurricanes, 1 when I was 11 years old and thought I was going to die. Then in 1992, Andrew hit La. after devastating south Florida. I have evacuated more times than I can remember. My parents' house sits where a tornado, proceeding a hurricane, ripped through a 3 mile path, killing 22 people. We will move, once my daughter graduates high school, further up north, that's north of I-12, the usual cut off for evacuation. i can't leave this my culture, it's food, people, LSU football, Mardi Gras and wwl- radio. Please no offense to anyone out there, but life would be so boring anywhere else for me. So we will just more up north between 1-12 and Baton Rouge.

Leann Sweeney said...

I don't think anyone would take offense at you living where you feel most alive, Annette. Many people after Katrina didn't understand why people stayed or why they returned afterward but southern Louisiana has a rich and diverse culture. We have such a wonderful country and despite the scares, we are very lucky.

Heather said...

Here, it's snow and tornadoes. We set a new record for snow the winter of 07/08 (more than 1oo inches), and came close to matching the next year. Thankfully, though 09/10 started off with a 17" storm, overall snow fall was less than the previous two years. I've also been within 1-2 miles of where tornadoes have touched down. *Shudder* I much prefer the blizzard.

Vickie said...

I was stationed in Fort Walton Beach FL for three years and never witnessed a hurricane. I don't know how that happened. Went through some earthquakes while stationed in Anchorage Alaska, but not devastating ones.
Apparently I slept through tornados in Kansas and Texas....Mom would pick us up and me and my sister in the bathtub and we slept....

Vickie said...

And DH and I yell at the idiot weather peeps who stand out there in the gusting winds and torrential rain. I guess it makes good visual for the television audience. I think it's inane.

Cara said...

Hurricane Season! I grew up in Mobile, Al and now live across the bay on the Eastern Shore in Daphne. We lost our house in Ivan and stayed during Katrina. Not smart, but luckily for us it moved at the last minute. Growing up in the area I have learned that when you evacuate you take anything you would hate to lose. I felt sorry for my friends and family in NOLA who lost everything, but I also always take those precious pictures since we have enough time to actually leave. I hate to say I like hurricanes because I do not, but at least we know they are coming (unlike tornados and earthquakes). So, we deal with the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, and I guess now oil spills.

Cara said...

Oh, and if the weather channel shows up that is a good sign. Jim Cantore seems to always be in the wrong spot. So, hopefully he will visit South Alabama this year.

Leann Sweeney said...

That's funny that the "experts" show up in the wrong spot! Guess that shows that Mother Nature really is in charge!

Lover of Books said...

Three years ago, a tornado (I am guessing) went right near us. It's the only way I could explain what happened to the trees. Anyways, we lost hte power for a day and a half. We were home when this happened and asleep.We stayed at my parents house cause my oldest was 3. Yeah no power and a three year old, bad situation! LOL Yeah we are pretty bad. We have a bathroom upstairs we'll hunker in now. No basement here. Yet no really bad storms yet. So I'm happy. It's pretty much missed us this year so far. Except one nasty winter storm where my son's school got canceled. Got to love Minnesota!

Rural View said...

Cara's comment reminded me that when we were in the Outer Banks and had hurricane warnings, a sign outside a bar on the main drag said, "Go Home, Jim Cantore!"

Leann Sweeney said...

That's funny. :-)

Maggie Sefton said...

Leann---I've never been directly on the Gulf for a hurricane and don't want to be. I still remember watching Hurricane's Carmen and Hazel and Diane come roaring up the East Coast after damaging Florida back in the '50s. They went out to sea again, sucked up more warm water energy and came roaring back inland right over Wash, DC, MD, &VA. Whoa!

The Potomac is a tidal river so it was spilling over its banks (it's a big river, folks) and the waves were lashing. Schools were let out and we all huddled at home without electricity thanks to the 'canes and watched the winds bend hardwood trees and maples sideways and tear off shingles & shudders and mangle houses. Those trees aren't supposed to bend like that. They're not palm trees like in FL or Gulf Coast TX. It was SCARY.

ThistleStop said...

I'm in central Maryland where we often get the tail-end of hurricanes, but rarely bear the brunt of any major natural disaster. The hurricane that affected me most was Agnes, in 1972, because I was at a movie when the worst flooding occurred and it took us hours to get home due to all the detours. We got quite a lot of wind and rain from David, in 1979, too. We've had a number of big blizzards here in my lifetime, and there have been tornado deaths in the state, but twisters are uncommon. There was a small earthquake recently, but I never felt a thing; we get more rockin' 'n' rollin' when they blast at the nearby limestone quarries! My husband (the geographer) says this area will experience a major earthquake "sometime." I hope that's in the next millennium! Actually, this is rather a safe place to live, as long as the terrorists don't target Camp David. We've had military jets circling overhead on many weekends since 9/11.

My father lives in New Orleans half the year, but he doesn't enjoy it much since Katrina -- the human suffering he still sees all around the city is too depressing. He served in relief efforts for awhile but finally admitted to himself that he just couldn't take it any more. He has been treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and he wasn't even in town when the flood hit, nor was his property damaged -- it's on high ground for NOLA: four feet above sea level! My sister's cat, who was home alone through it all, survived Katrina by drinking water from the fish tank. I guess she probably ate a few fish, too. It was a couple of weeks before she could be rescued, but she was fine, and so was their house. What a blessing it is to escape such a disaster! May God preserve us all and keep us safe from the ravages of Nature!

ThistleStop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ThistleStop said...

(Corrected version of the post I removed.) As for the news personalities who stand out in a storm, clasping lamp posts as their umbrellas turn inside out... there must be easier ways to see oneself on TV! I think they're nuts! But in infotainment, the human interest stories must prevail. On a less cynical note, I certainly do appreciate the job radio and TV media do in warning and informing people about natural disasters. They save many lives.

Leann Sweeney said...

You're right, thistlestop! We are given good information to prepare and evacuate. Heck, they even give updates here on whicj stores still have plywood to protect windows and which ones have plenty of bottled water. So thank you for reminding me that the media does have an important job when hurricanes are approaching. I just wish they'd quit putting themselves in harm's way!

Shaun Webb said...

I hope your safe!!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Shaun. No current storms in the gulf. But we're going to spend time in Seattle when our new granddaughter arrives and I worry about leaving!

Chèli said...

I haven't lived through anything major except for a few blizzards and with the weather forecasts nowadays you can prepare for those pretty much.

I have often thought about what I would take with me if I had to evacuate my home, and surprisingly, my cross stitch pieces are high on the list. However, with 92 completed pieces, I have to be particular even there. And now I have 6 crates of photographs that I inherited from my in-laws (guess I better get busy scanning those photos). Much as I love books, those aren't on the list - I'll just have to hit the bookstores and libraries for replacements.

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh yes. The cross stitch pieces HAVE to go with you. So much work! Pictures, too. I have a box of Agatha Christie paperbacks from way back when, and I do take them with me.