The aftermath of the storm. A hurricane story

Hurricane Matthew (2016)

Hurricane Matthew on October 4th, 2016. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

There is a storm coming, and for once I’m not being metaphorical. It’s an actual blow you down and knock you around kind of storm. The kind of storm that gets named as if humanizing it will somehow make it any less dangerous.

This isn’t my first hurricane. That dubious honor goes to a storm known as Hugo. I was just a kid at the time and barely paid attention to the fuss made about the storm on the news. Why should I? It formed far away and was impacting people I’d never met. Going to school and playing with my friends were much more important.

The hurricane weakened as it came in contact with land. I was even less concerned. I went to bed that night thinking that while there might be a few gusts and a little extra rain, the next day would look much like the day before.

When I woke, I noticed that a neighbor’s tree now lay at an angle, its truck split in two. Branches that once reached out and up, not lay on along the street making it appear more like a person performing a yoga child’s pose than a tree. I saw then exactly what a few gusts could do.

But the storm hadn’t just fallen a couple of old trees. The air felt different, so very still and the sky took on an odd yellow, green, gray color. But the most notable difference was the lack of animal sounds. The storm, seemingly, had taken us all by surprise.

Building wrecked by Hugo

What Hugo’s aftermath looked like down the road in SC

We counted ourselves fortunate that there wasn’t more damage. Neighbors helped neighbors. Some offered use of chainsaws, while others helped remove debris. I started to wonder if the storm might actually prove to be a good thing as a party formed in the street in front of my house and several neighbors rolled out their grills to share food with the masses rather than have it spoil in unpowered fridges. No one wanted the hurricane, but at least we all were making the best of the situation. We’d rebuild. We’d grow stronger because that is what we do.

But the power was out and the power stayed out and soon the lasting impacts of the storm began to take their toll. All told, it took nearly two weeks for the power to be restored in the area. My mom, for reasons she hasn’t shared with us, but I suspect have something to do with finding us playing with lit candles without adult supervision, shipped me and my sisters up north to our Grandparents’ house to wait out the repairs like waifs fleeing from war.

I’ve experienced more storms since, some more memorable than others. Storms going by names like Fran, Floyd, and Bonnie. Names that always sound so sweet and unthreatening. It is easy to downplay their danger. Oh, it’s only a category 1 or 2. That’s not all that bad. It’s just wind and no real substance. These things never impact us. We’ll stay indoors today. Maybe stock up on an extra beer or two. And so we go about our day-to-day confident that we’ll be able to ride this storm out the same as we have a dozen times before.

Hurricane Hugo was considered a category 1 storm when its eye crossed over us. That single category 1 storm, which we nearly all ignored, was responsible for multiple deaths, rendered 50,000 people homeless, created damage costing billions, and was able to set back progress by decades, if only temporarily. Hurricanes should never be ignored. Hurricanes always matter.

Okay. You caught me. There is a metaphor here after all.

Matthew isn’t the only storm on the horizon. Another storm is coming. One that affects those in Kansas as well as the coast. But thankfully, while Matthew is imminent, we still have a month left to prepare for this coming storm. So, my American friends, take advantage of this time and take this storm seriously. Understand the potential impacts, on others as well as yourself. Research the local issues and the local candidates as much as the national ones. Stock up on pop-tarts and bottled water if that’s your thing. But whatever you do, don’t stay in your homes and think to wait this one out or go out there unprepared.

Never forget, the eye of a hurricane has two walls. While initial after party might be fun – we survived, can you believe it is finally over, I can finally talk to my family a/o neighbors again – the storm’s impact will last longer than you might expect. Elections always matter. So do your homework. And Vote.

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58 thoughts on “The aftermath of the storm. A hurricane story

  1. Thanks Allie! Elections DO matter. Do your research and learn the issues, then ….

    Vote! That’s a Doctor’s Order.

    Allie’s Dad, an elected official on the side

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  2. I hope people take their decision very seriously. I think one of the candidates would be a disaster on an international scale. You’ve been straight down the middle in your post, so I won’t name any names either. I think anybody who has read my comments on the matter anywhere else can imagine which of the two candidates I think is a dangerous, no-nothing windbag who might easily destroy the international financial system or stumble into a major war.

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    • I hope so too. I’ve purposely remained neutral here out of respect for the positions in play. Other voters may check a different name on the ballot than I do, as is their right, I just hope they do so for reasons based on homework and good information rather than a gut reaction the day of.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. In any democracy, it’s a healthy thing for people to have different opinions, but only if they are based on an proper understanding of the facts and not on tribal loyalty.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I spent all day yesterday tracking the storm and texting with people as they prepared their homes and evacuated. It’s a bad one. And so is this upcoming election. Perfect metaphor. Unfortunately. Be safe. 💗

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  4. I’ve been through a hurricane, too, way back when I lived in Hawaii. I think it was only a Category 1, too – but caused quite a bit of destruction regardless. Hurricanes, indeed, should never be ignored.

    I think a Trump presidency (why beat around the bush?) would be far more destructive and would hurt the entire nation.

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  5. Hi Allie, great post, and you are so right about those very different storms we face. My family moved to SC a few years after Hugo, and the devastation was still visible. Entire forests were leveled. Hope you stay safe. And hope we all vote ! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never experienced a hurricane before. I have been in an earthquake, though. Not big enough to do damage, but strong enough to wake me up at night and scare the bejesus out of me. It felt like something grabbed ahold of the bottom of the 10-story building I was in and shook it. I was sure the sway would make the cinder blocks and rebar loose their hold and crumble. The security guards roamed the halls afterward talking to each other on their walkie-talkies. There was no damage, but I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

    I love your metaphor . . . the lack of control involved in natural disasters and the impending doom associated with them . . . yes, a hurricane is definitely coming. And just like in that earthquake, I am holding on for dear life wondering if the country is going to come toppling down around me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only experienced two earthquakes and both were so minor they wouldn’t have even raised an eyebrow by West Coasters, but they definitely got my attention. I prefer a hurricane to an earthquake only because you can typically see them coming days in advance.

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  7. Was that black and white photo what happen to your actual street? WOWZA, no wonder mum shipped you off, I’d have too. I don’t really have any concept of what a hurricane can do, but damn, the footage is scary enough. I hope y’all stay safe xx

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  8. There was a hurricane in the UK in October 1987. I slept through it and awoke the next morning to find every house and every car in the road damaged, other than mine. That’s what you call good luck. I doubt I’d be so lucky another time — not now I live near the top of a hill, facing SW, with woodland to the rear. Please, God, no hurricanes. It must be so devastating to lose everything.

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  9. We don’t get hurricanes in Upstate New York, but we sometimes get the heavy rains they leave behind. We get snowstorms and ice storms. In 1991, we had an ice storm that was so bad we were without power for 10 days. My oldest son was 3 months old. We slept with him between us at night to keep him warm. We didn’t leave because we had 6 cockatiels in a cage that we had to keep alive, and all our relatives were without power, too. My employer actually let us bring our children and babies in to work. There was power at work so I packed up my son and took him in to work with me every day. That’s the worst storm I’ve ever been through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very happy to hear your employer was willing to accommodate your family. I love hearing about people simply being decent people during tough times. I’m glad you haven’t had to go through more storms like that. One is enough for me too.

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