I woke to the sounds of rain. As I spoke with my mother moments ago she laughed when I told her that at some point last night I had wakened with the thought in my head that if it hadn’t started raining by the time I got up I was going to have to carry water down to the garden. Which no, dad has a water supply close by, but sleep thinking is odd at times. The rain we are getting is from the storm Elsa, and while I imagine there are plenty of Elsa jokes making the rounds, I’m happy for the rain and that it hasn’t shown signs here of being dangerous.
I have to admit though, that every time I hear of even remnants of a hurricane coming through, my mind goes back to 1989 and a storm called Hurricane Hugo. What a Memory.I had been half tracking it for days, it was one of those worry about the coastline but not us.
Living about midway of the state has advantages, but not this time.
The day before Hugo struck the weather prognosticators warned of the potential for high winds that night and it would be wise to secure anything that would fly about. Taking the advice to heart I went outside and moved the lawn furniture and trashcans into the storage building. As a side note, we had bought the house I grew up in from my parents and since dad hadn’t gotten his storage building-garage built yet his boat was still in ours. When my husband called on his break he asked what I was up to, and laughed at me when I told him. Famous last words, “It won’t come this far inland”
That night, somewhere near the middle of the night, when all should be quiet and at peace, the howling began. I had left a radio on at night ever since I had worked the night shift and needed a noise to cover the life going on outside during the day. A habit I carried over when I managed to get a day job. Suddenly the radio went off, but came back on very briefly before going off again. We would not have electricity again for seven days. All I was hearing, was the sounds of what shouldn’t be, but was. The angry, monstrous, howling of the wind was terrifying. My home sits, backside within feet of the woods, big, tall, aging Oaks. All I could hear was wind, if I could have heard more, I would have been more than frightened.
My son was an eight month old infant, thankfully who slept through the storm. When the power had gone out and stayed, I got up. I paced from my son’s bedroom to the front door and back again. Our front door has three small windows that allowed me to look out into the dark early morning. Sitting here now, I don’t know if what I saw was real or imagined. It was dark, I don’t know how I would see, but when I looked out, I was seeing some of those big Oaks, bent down near to kissing the ground. So I paced, stopping only to look toward the ceiling, then resuming my track from bedroom to door to bedroom. By daybreak I was mentally and physically exhausted, but oh what greeted us with morning’s light.
Stepping outside we were greeted with a nightmare. Trees were down everywhere. We had thirteen down around my house alone. Wait, let me clarify, we had ten down, and three that had been miraculously stopped. One behind our infant son’s bedroom. One behind our kitchen. One behind this end of the house. Each on their journey down toward the house, were stopped by another tree, lodged within they were stopped from striking the house. One tree out front had snapped off half way down, but the top half had fallen away from the house, instead of falling onto the roof of this room. Our large storage building didn’t fare as well. Two huge Oaks had fallen, one piercing the roof of the building, a large limb stopping approximately one inch from dad’s boat. The other took out our above ground swimming pool.
We were safe, our home was safe, but with no electricity and I had a hungry infant. I had purchased a small gas grill for Father’s day for my husband. He had told me to take it back but I had refused. He was glad at this point. We had a way to cook and heat bottles if nothing else. I have well water, no electricity, no water. We came to find out that my grandmother had water, so we had someone to go shower and fill up containers for drinking and cooking. We were having to get by on what food we had because once the day had broken that morning everyone who could get out did and cleared out the nonperishable goods.
I had some kerosene lanterns and candles, so we had a bit of light. We spent the daytime hours outside, clearing away the debris and hoping for electricity soon. During this time, I saw neighbor helping neighbor. I saw people thanking and offering water and food to those working so diligently to get electricity restored. I saw, what and who we really are when it comes right down to it, when the government isn’t involved, when allowed, we show the love.
I don’t know how bad this storm has been since it came onshore. I don’t know what damage it may have done along the way. But I am thankful for the rain and the knowledge that I can look back now on a storm that for so long lingered a terrifying memory that is now simply that, a memory. A reminder, that until our purpose in this life is done, we are protected.