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.