Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Hurricane Experiences

With all the talk about Katrina, I'd like to share my three experiences with hurricanes, only one with a name. (The other two might have had names, but I didn't hear them.)

First one was when hubby and I were in the process of moving me and our two daughters, 3 years old and 2 months from California to Virginia Beach. Our belongings were coming in a van. I'd flown with the girls to Washington DC (plane broke down in Phoenix) and husband picked us up and we stayed at his family home before driving to Virginia. As we progressed south we heard that a hurricane was headed toward Virginia too.

We arrived, hubby left us in a motel while he reported into the base. That was the last I'd see of him for 2 days. The hurricane was coming. The motel was deserted except for the manager and a black hotel maid We had no food. All I had was canned formula for the baby. The maid baby sat while I made my way through 50 mile and hour winds walking to a nearby store. I bought canned soups and a big box of crackers and a jar of P-nut better.

The manager loaned me a pot and a one burner hot plate, a bowl and a couple of spoons. The maid stayed with me a lot because she was scared too. I don't remember all of the details, this was years ago. We managed and husband finally returned for me.

The second hurricane happened in Virginia beach while we were living there. A bad hurricane came along, blew the front door of our apartment house away and beached a foreign freighter. During the height of the storm, we drove our kids down to the beach and watched the waves crash up on the parking lot we parked in. (Stupid. I cringe when I see people doing that on TV now.)

The third was during Isabel. Our plane was the last one to land at Dulles in D.C. When we rented our car it was suggested we take out flood insurance. Good thing we did. We told to get moving if we were headed south so we'd make it before the hurricane. We drove our brand new rental over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and to our destination in Cambridge MD. The winds was already blowing hard.

We had one day to visit and drive around. (I was supposed to do a library talk that evening, canceled, and a book event the next day so I checked in with the bookstore.)

The relatives we stayed with lived right on the Chesapeake Bay. They had a dock, a strip of lawn, the two lane road, a large expanse of lawn and gardens, and then the house with several steps up to the porch. The garage was on ground level as was the added on-sun porch. We parked our car in front of the house.

That evening we watched TV and the crazy reporters being nearly blown away as they talked about the high water, the trees blowing down, etc. all around us. Finally, we all went to bed. Sometime during the night, the electricity went out. A candle in the bathroom was a clue and a call out from our host to only flush if necessary.

In the a.m. when we woke, I looked out the bedroom window which faced the back of the house. All the trees poked out of the water--no ground visible anywhere. I woke my husband. "I think we better see if we still have a car."

We ran to the front window and peeked out. Our car was bobbing as it floated on the bay which now came all the way up to the porch. All in p.j.s or various states of undress, the four of us gazed outside with wonder. There was no longer a pier, or road, or front yard. The mailbox was all that was visible, no post.

One of the younger neighbors came over to check on us, wearing fishing waders. Over six foot tall, the water came up past his waist. We were afraid when the tide went out our car would float out with it, so he tied the car to the porch.

No electricity meant no phone either. Our hostess managed to feed us quite well out of her refrigerator. When we weren't looking out the window at the strange sights: people in boats going down were the road was supposed to be, huge Army vehicles going to check on elderly residents farther down the road, kids swimming down the road, we played board games.

A relative came to check on us in a piece of farm equipment with huge tires. We shouted that we were fine.

In the afternoon, the water began to recede somewhat. The same relative came in a truck and my husband's cousin and I waded through the water to go to the relative's house and take a shower and change clothes. Something we'd been unable to do. We had to drive through lots of water going and coming.

When electricity finally returned we called the rental car place and told them about the car--which of course wouldn't start--nor would hubby's relatives cars in the garage--all ruined. Thanks to the flood insurance, that evening a big truck arrived with another rental car for us and they took away the damaged one.

Things were a long way from normal, but hubby did get to go to his class reunion, the main purpose of our trip. On our way, we saw a lot of damage.

Our new rental car got us back to the airport quite nicely. And those are my hurricane experiences. I prefer earthquakes.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

1 comments:

Monti said...

Wow, you are fortunate to have had the foresight to take out flood insurance. I probably wouldn't have done it. Isabel was a terrible hurricane--the worst we've encountered and we've lived in Virginia forever!

Monti
http://www.marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com/