Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thar She Blows!

Crap.

It's hurricane season here in the good ol' Bahamas, the Lesser and Greater Antilles and any other specks of land between Africa and the west side of the Gulf of Mexico.  We are all at the mercy of Ma Nature.  I say "specks of land" because, considering the size of say, a continent, we island folk worry that the little bits of Earth that we exist upon will be sucked up out of the ocean and hurled into some unknown place, much like Auntie Em's house did.  Of course, landing in the Arctic would be a nice refreshing break from the oppressive heat right about now.

The first hurricane I ever experienced was Frances in early September, 2004.  She was a very slow moving, "take your time" kind of storm, island hopping to almost every "rock" in the Bahamas.  When she finally reached our island, she was a Category 2, moving westward at the brisk Bahamian pace of two miles per hour, with an eye of about seventy miles in diameter.  Slow and steady gets the job done, so they say.  There was about a six hour break during the eye of the storm where we could safely go outside, let the dogs out  - oh, they were so relieved to be relieved - and survey the damage.  Then the other side of the storm wall came.  Another twelve or so hours of howling winds.

Since I had never experienced a storm before and I had no idea what to expect, the days preceding it was spent making window shudders, stowing and securing everything and anything that could blow away, making drinking water, buying supplies - basically running around like a nervous wreck.  I was so hyped with adrenaline and trepidation that, as soon as the storm hit,  I promptly went comatose.

Several hours later - don't ask me how long it was, the entire ordeal is kind of a blur - my stepfather (a.k.a.Satan) wakes me up in a panic.  This time I know he isn't shitting me.  "She's getting sucked out of the door!", he says.  "Muwha?", I respond.  I jumped out of bed, ran upstairs and found my mother holding onto the hinged window that was attached to the remaining part of a door.  Had Mom been wearing an old fashioned hoop skirt, she would have been sucked up, spinning in the air like a whirling Dervish.  The wind was howling through the soffits like a freight train.  It was all too surreal.

I secured what was left of the door and plugged up the hole with some corrugated plastic sheeting we had lying around (we don't throw anything out), and pieces of plywood that were, thankfully, in the house.  After checking the other doors, I went back to sleep.

Almost two weeks had passed before we got power and the Internet back and just in time to see Jeanne pull a "Crazy Ivan", diverting her projected northerly safe path to a south then westerly destructive one.  I guess she didn't want to miss out on all of the fun that Frances and Ivan had.  Being a woman, it was her prerogative after all.

We didn't get the full brunt of Jeanne's wrath, but just enough to knock out the power again for a couple more weeks and to re-deposit all of the debris that was gathered up after Frances.  The two trees that were uprooted during Frances remain where they fell, but are thriving.  The sea grape produces sweet grapes and the coconuts still bears its fruit - it's way easier to grab one at ground level than trying to shimmy up the twenty foot tree.

The hardest thing to deal with during a storm is the boredom.  There's no power so there's no television or Internet, but we did have a radio and could listen to "Air America" with Al Franken and friends.  The worst thing, for me at least, was being locked up in the same house with Satan for what seemed like an eternity.  Twice.

It's been six years since a major storm has hit, but I am now getting that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach once again.  There is a storm brewing just above Hispaniola and it looks like it is headed our way  and the westerlies don't appear to be strong enough to steer it northward and away from the islands.  The hurricane centre isn't going to do another fly by until tomorrow, making it unclear as to where it may be headed.  So, I may be away for a bit, making my chore and shopping lists, checking them twice, for I know if the storm comes, it will be naughty, not nice.  And her name will be Bonnie.

"Bonnie lass", my ass.

31 comments:

  1. I have once experienced a hurricane. And a very small one at that. That's at least what the residents in Fort Lauderdale told us. But it scared the living lights out of me, not having any sort of control was a nightmare.
    So go ahead, make your preparations. And be safe if Bonnie decides to visit. :)

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  2. Wow. I have never experienced a hurricane and hope I never do.

    I don't do boredom well.

    And kudos to you for making coconut milk out your coconut trees lying so easily within your reach.

    And grape juice too!

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  3. RA: We hope that nobody visits this year, but it seems unlikely. Thanks for your well wishes.

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  4. Quirks: I hope you don't experience a hurricane, too! We have since bought a generator, so we won't be completely bored - or left in the dark, for that matter. I'll have to record some programs just in case cable isn't restored right away. And "right away" down here means "when they reach".

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  5. Wow! What an experience. Yes, I hope I never have one like it. It's bad enough here in Texas when the storms are threatening the coast and everybody gets in their car to head north. YIKES!

    Good Luck!

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  6. I lived through Hurricane Hazel back in 1956, but being three years old, I can't say I remember anything about it. Here's hoping this season passes without too much damage.

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  7. Reffie: At this time of the season, the Gulf states are more vulnerable and I fear for those people that live near the coastal areas. I hope you don't get any major storms this year (I don't know if you live near the coast, but take care if you do).

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  8. Frank: Hazel hit Toronto in October 1954 (as me mum informs me - she was about ten years old at the time), and it is surprising they considered it a "hurricane" way back when, not to say that you are old by any means.
    ;-)
    The fact that Hazel survived so strongly and so far inland is historical for the times. And, thank you for your well wishes.

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  9. I was there too. Double OO was intrepid. After rescuing me, she was almost swept off the balcony where the door was blown out by a probable tornado on the back eye of the hurricane. (Satan and I grabbed her legs) As she said, we don't throw anything out and she was savings the bits and pieces of the plantation door. (Its teak wood)

    BUT the name of the game wherever you are is - survival. It is amazing how you cope instinctively.

    Satan and I were scheduled to travel to Cancun on business, but we were delayed by 1) our cargo being delayed by Homeland Security (interminable checks) and 2) the impending arrival of Francis.

    Double OO said "don't worry, go, I can look after what needs to be done" HA HA Totally blindsided Never ever underestimate Mother Nature.

    Like I said, she is intrepid but she was glad in the end that we stayed. We were also able to help with the mopping up as half the roof shingles were ripped away and we used every T-shirt, towel and sheet to mop up Niagara Falls in the house.

    We have tons of hurricane tips. Just ask us.

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  10. Thanks for this piece, it's an engaging read. I can't believe those trees are still bearing fruit for you, how interesting! I'm sending sunny thoughts your way, and hope if it hits it goes easy on you.

    The experience of the eye as the storm passed over grabbed my attention fully, as I've never experienced anything like it before. Sorry you had to deal with a Satan. Satan was my brother, but his is an intermittent evil.

    Be Safe!
    ~Brenda

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  11. Brenda: It's amazing how some plants survive and grow here.

    The eye of the storm was a bit strange to experience. From howling winds to nearly none, it seemed a bit unreal and the clouds were green-grayish.

    Thanks for kind comments and dropping in!

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  12. Man, I was 2 when Hazel hit Hogtown. I have no memory of it whatsoever. (Course maybe it knocked me out and that's why. Could explain a lot of things.) You're to be admired for living in a hurricane zone. You're a braver person than I. Good luck my friend.

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  13. dufus: Not necessarily living here by choice, but of circumstance. C'est la vie. The storm has just been upgraded to a tropical depression #3 and the preliminary tracking has it moving in a westerly direction - quite a ways south of us. BUT (there's always a 'but')...the predictions have been wrong before. We are, and have been over the past few days, getting welcome breezes. I hope it stays to the south, but I also hope it doesn't get nasty for the places it may hit. We all live in "Hurricane Alley" and eternal hope. Oy.

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  14. Oh my god, this is crazy. We don't have enough warm water over here to generate a storm like that (what with the no ocean thing and the ice floating around in the tiny sea and all), and for that I am very happy. I think you must either be very brave or very stupid to stick around knowing a storm like that could hit. ;) But it sure makes for an interesting read.

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  15. Ziva: Yep, we be on a rock stuck between a warm and a cold place. Latest update has it heading westward at a rather brisk pace (which is a good thing). If it slows down, then it gets stronger - hopefully it will just stay a depression or a minor tropical storm and won't cause any damages anywhere. Hmmm...we could use some ice floes down here right about now! Can you spare a few??
    ;-)

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  16. Double O, that is some scary business, Darlin'. I would be terrified. Mother Nature can be a real Mutha can't she? This was beautifully written and really gives me the feeling that I wouldn't want to be there when something like this happens. Stay safe, Honey.

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  17. Linda: Thank you too, Honey. I'll be watching it all night, more or less, but it looks like it won't develop into a 'cane at all, just a tropical storm, for which I am grateful, not only for us, but anyone else it may affect.

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  18. I always wondered who on earth chooses the names for hurricanes. I mean, really, Jeanne? Frances? Katrina? HAZEL??? If it were me, they'd be named things like SOB and Motherf**ker. Just think of the headlines: "Motherf**ker destroys entire island". Isn't that way more impressive than "Frances touched down in the Bahamas yesterday"?

    Seriously.

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  19. Nicky: Haha! I'd agree with you, but you can't have all storms named the same - you still have to call it something, for instance, "The SOB 'Jepeto' touched down in ...". (Um, kindly keep "J" locked up until Dec. 1st, k?).
    ;-)

    Sadly (but not surprisingly), the most devastating hurricanes have been named after women.

    The latest update: It's a tropical storm and has been named "Bonnie". It appears that - like her name - she will be a 'lass' after all, and won't develop into a b... I mean, major storm.

    (Don't wanna jinx myself.)

    Godspeed, Bonnie!

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  20. Frances sounds like a girl I once dated, a very slow moving, 'take your time' kind of girl, hopping to almost every rock. I'll never forget her, but she was too intense and I was glad when she moved on, and I'll be even happier if she never comes back. I'm sure you can relate, 00odozo.

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  21. Oops. I meant 00dozo. I keep spelling it wrong because Frances hit me on the head with a 2x4 when she was "blowing through," if you get my driftwood.

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  22. Oh, and one more thing: Even if you avoid a hurricane, I'm afraid your island will soon be an underwater reef thanks to global warming. The good news is that you'll be able to move back to Canada because the weather will be Bahama-like even in Quebec in just a few years.

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  23. BonyMike(x3): No worries about the name spelling - my mom called me Double OO in an earlier comment. Doh!

    Well, Bonnie didn't turn out anything like Frances, but she did bring in some very welcome cool breezes. Alas, it will not last long - it's already starting to get warmer and the humidity is extremely high. Ugh.

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  24. You know, I should be more grateful that I live in a shitty little country that rarely gets elements so vicious.

    And isn't it crazy how the worse hurricanes are named after women? Hell hath no fury.........

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  25. Lena: Ha! Yes, Hell...

    And, although I've never been there, I wouldn't be calling Scotland "little" -- oops, I mean "shitty"!

    ;-)

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  26. Lived through Eduard on Cape Cod back in the 90s. Vacationing no less. My husband had had it by day 3 of no power. The sun woke us up on day 4 so we stayed.

    Hope you don't get broadsided again.

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  27. Cure JM is back up in August and currently in 3rd for the $250K. Please run over and vote. Thanks.

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  28. Cheryl: Bonnie stayed well south of us and never reached hurricane status. But I can't imagine being on vacation and having it ruined by a storm! I hope the rest of your vacation was good.

    ;-)

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  29. Thanks for voting with all your email addresses. I do the same. It's up to 5 with a bullet! I don't know how else to reach you so I hope you don't mind me posting comments here.

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  30. Cheryl: No problem reaching me here. And, you are welcome - I had forgot that my other e-mail addresses were still active. I vote in the mornings (it's the only thing I can read just after waking up) - hope to see it progress to a better place soon!

    ;-)

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