Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Mother Nature’s a Bitch

I'm about hurricaned out. Been trapped in my house for two and half days. Cabin fever. Stir crazy. Went to Home Depot this evening just to get out and so I could stare at all the empty shelves where duct tape, batteries, tarps and plywood used to be. A 2 P.M. curfew went into effect Friday afternoon. After that it was 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. Alcohol sales were banned for awhile. I outsmarted them and stocked up ahead of time. We made bags of ice in the freezer and never had to use them because we never lost power. Seems impossible but it's true. Lost cable (and hence the computer) for over 24 hours. Jeff "smash-your-television" Culbreath needs to know I didn't miss the TV. It's no fun watching a hurricane that won't move. It just deepens the aggravation. Don't know what to do with all the ice. Maybe we'll have some people over for mixed drinks. I need to be more sociable anyway.

We were lucky. Or else I'm forced to assume your prayers worked to weaken the storm. Wish I could prove the latter. If it had hit at its one-time full strength of 145mph - I can't even imagine. Charley hit like a fist and moved on. This one just kept hanging around. Official gusts in our area were around 70, but I swear some were stronger, and it went on for almost 3 days. The highest gusts of 125 were reported at Port Canaveral, about parallel to Orlando, and far from the eye.
A few things observed and heard: the top of the tall oak tree bordering my yard and the neighbor's snapped off and fell on his power line. But he's still got power. I never heard it, but it woke Bernadette and sent her into the living room to lie on the couch between me and her mom. Sounds like that make you think something's about to come through the window, and make you want company.

Before the storm hit, I cleaned up the yard, putting away anything that might fly through the air, like the tall ladder with sliding rungs that I use to get on the roof. As I was trying to hang it up in the garage, I cut myself on a smaller ladder blocking my efforts. It hurt. It was a deep cut. I swore and threw the smaller ladder out of the garage. Then I threw the small wooden ladder out too just for spite. If you'd been walking by you'd have seen ladders flying out of the garage and heard swearing before you saw its source. My wife saw it from the kitchen window and came running out. She wanted me to stop because the neighbors across the street gathered in their driveway could hear me. I told her what the neighbors could do with themselves. (They're really nice people. Really.) She said I wasn't thinking clearly. The anxiety was getting to me. I needed a beer, she said. I said I needed several. My house wasn't protected enough. I had lots of duct tape but only one piece of plywood and nothing to cut it with. She watched me from the kitchen window spend an hour trying to cut it with a handsaw. Then she watched me throw it on the ground and beat it with a hatchet. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She didn't think any of it was funny at the time, but when she told Bernadette later that night how she saw ladders flying out of the garage, she was laughing so hard she could hardly get the story out.

When Elizabeth flew in right after Charley, we were sitting around the second night without power in the candlelight, sweating, and wondered why hurricanes are given such harmless names: Charley, Frances, Donna, etc., like they were relatives or something. Why don't they give them more appropriate names, signifying their nastiness? "Yeah," said Ebe, "like Hurricane Sh*t."

"Elizabeth!" said her mother.

"She's right," I said. "Can't you hear the weatherman next time? 'Out there in the Atlantic, that's Tropical Storm Sh*t. And let me tell you, folks, we need to keep an eye on it. It's expected to intensify and become a genuine sh*t-storm.' "

I'll spare you our other inventions. These things happen under stress.

One weather guy said this (Frances) would be the largest natural disaster to ever hit America. I'm sceptical. Maybe if you're not counting lives lost. Nine people dead. But the area of damage extends from at least Flagler Beach to West Palm. That's huge. Even the gulf coast got more than expected, but a girl named Amanda is safe. This site has good photo gallery.

Two million people were evacuated from the coast. As of this morning 3 million were without power, a number rapidly diminishing. Pregnant women in shelters were forcibly relocated to hospitals. 57 of 67 Florida counties were affected by the storm to one degree or another. Not as many fallen trees around here this time. Charley did the culling. A lot of boats were lost. Many watching on TV think "Aw, he lost his toy." It's not always like that. A lot of people live on those boats. That's right, they don't own a house. They saved up to buy a boat because it was their dream and it's all they've got. Somewhere on the coast, a 78 year old ex-flight attendant stepped out during the storm to do something she thought necessary and got blown halfway across her lawn. She's okay. Lived to tell about it.

You're average Joe has no idea what 80 mph sustained winds (or even gusts) are like for hour upon hour, beating on your house, eliciting from it noises you've never heard, let alone 100 mph. And to think if it had landed at 145 we were considering riding it out.

Anyway, another one might be coming. I'm expecting some residual prayer effect. Or a renewed effort.

I want to thank all of you, like TS O'Rama and Micki, who sent personal notes wishing us well, and all who left comments.

I told you that after Charley my mother wanted to know where the birds go during a hurricane. She might try asking this fellow:

See all of the Hurricane Chronicles


i am praising heaven that you and your loved ones are safe and will continue to petition for continued safety.
as for mrs. luse's reaction to your shinanigans, i was laughing so hard as i read it that my wee ones came to see if their mom had gone looney! you're too much.
Posted by smockmomma email at September 7, 2004 11:42 AM

Also thanking God for your safety & for the many, many, many who got through it unscathed.
Does this mean that you won't try to stay put if the forecast says the next hurricane is more than 100 mph winds?
Posted by Sparki email at September 7, 2004 01:22 PM

40 mph winds scare the daylights out of Californians. But we don't mind the ground shifting a little. One more hurricane this year and I'll bet 10% of Floridians will move back to NYC.
Posted by Jeff Culbreath email at September 7, 2004 01:27 PM

I don't know, Sparki, I just don't know. Jeff, been feeling the wife out about northern Alabama or Mississippi.
Posted by William Luse email at September 7, 2004 02:45 PM

and how does your lovely wife feel about moving north? I am glad that you survived the storm OK and I love the bird pic.
Posted by alicia email at September 7, 2004 08:33 PM

So far, Alicia, she's only giving me funny looks.
Posted by William Luse email at September 8, 2004 12:22 AM

Happy to know you are safe and well. This kind of commotion is unfathomable to the "Great Lakes States" mindset. I'm afraid I'd spend the next six months just sitting there looking like that bird.....
Posted by Ellyn email at September 8, 2004 08:55 AM

mr. luse, how dare you consider moving anywhere northern? perish the thought!
Posted by smockmomma email at September 8, 2004 11:32 AM

I can well attest that it went north past Flagler and after three days I just got my lights back.
Posted by Jeff Miller email at September 8, 2004 01:29 PM

Ellyn, I felt like that bird for 3 days.Micki, Northern Mississippi is further south than southern Florida.
Posted by William Luse email at September 8, 2004 02:59 PM

Ivan is frightening me already.
The living room carpet is still not dry from Frances.
Posted by Amanda email at September 8, 2004 07:40 PM

You ain't the only one who's nervous.
Posted by William Luse email at September 9, 2004 03:13 AM

We're still praying that ya'll can dry out and that Ivan will break up and go away.
Good grief.
The ladder story sounds very much like what Craig would be doing. Oh, my.
Blessings to you all, and sunny skies!
Posted by MamaT email at September 9, 2004 09:09 AM

it still sounds yankee to me. howabout y'all come on out here to TEXAS? we'd love to have y'all! got some nice BIG ol' golf courses, too.
Posted by smockmomma email at September 9, 2004 09:19 PM

That's an invitation that you might one day be taken up on. Hope you don't regret it.
Posted by William Luse email at September 10, 2004 03:44 AM

And that's a great picture, too. Today I felt just like that bird. Oh, the solidarity!
Posted by Jeff Culbreath email at September 10, 2004 05:18 AM

Lol. Flying ladders?
On the naming of Hurricanes.
Hurricanes used tobe named after the particular saint's day on which they struck. It's probably best they don't do that anymore inasmuch as it seem an awful bad rap for some very good people.
Posted by :~)Julie email at September 10, 2004 07:59 AM

Have you ever wondered about the system used for naming hurricanes? Where did those names come from, anyway? Will we have to suffer through another "Hurricane Andrew"? The system is not that complicated.
Hurricanes used to be designated by a system of latitude-longitude, which was a great way for meteorologists to track them. However, once the public began receiving storm warnings and trying to keep track of a particular storm path, this got very confusing. A system of monikers was much easier to track and remember.
In 1953, the National Weather Service picked up on the habit of Naval meteorologists of naming the storms after women. Ships were always referred to as female, and were often given women's names. The storms' temperament certainly seemed female enough, shifting directions at a whim on a moment's notice. In 1979, male names were inserted to alternate with the female names.
There are actually six lists of names in use for storms in the Atlantic. These lists rotate, one each year; the list of this year's names will not be reused until 2010. The names get recycled each time the list comes up, with one exception: storms so devastating that reusing the name is inappropriate. In this case, the name is taken off the list and another name is used to replace it; there will not be another Hurricane Andrew, because Andrew has been replace by Alex on the list.
A storm must start as a Tropical Depression and move on to become a Tropical Storm before it is given a name. Once a storm is named, preparations for the possible hurricane should be well under way. Without further ado, here is the list of hurricane names for 2004:
Alex Bonnie Charley Danielle Earl Frances GastonHermine Ivan Jeanne Karl Lisa Matthew Nicole Otto Paula Richard Shary Tomas Virginie Walter
Posted by Susanna email at September 16, 2004 01:06 PM

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