Come On Irene

Like an undesired relative Hurricane Irene showed up in Richmond on time Saturday.  She seemed to stay forever and then sensing she wasn’t wanted, vanish as quickly as she came.  We (me and the kitties) made it through.

We were lucky.  Some of our neighbors were not.  Three monster trees fell over five lots across the street taking down power lines with them.  The home owners were fortunate their houses were spared.  Some vehicles had foliage in places manufacturers didn’t envision but there were no injuries.  Homes and many more cars just within blocks of us were crushed.  Power was fully restored 124 hours later.

Storm Saturday was full of emotion.  The day started with a run to Home Depot to get a few supplies.  I witnessed price gouging first hand as prices were literally being marked up while I was shopping.  The marketing whores of Home Depot also had generators bundled with accessories on pallets.  That kind of pissed me off all while marveling at the capability of Home Depot’s supply chain.

As the storm rolled in we were glued to Twitter and the television.  The Richmond hash-tag was the source for storm news and happenings.  As the winds increased, trees toppled over and the power started to go out around the city. Richmonders provided the play-by-play via social media.  When I became light-less there was plenty of communication through a mobile app.

As evening approached with winds gusting at tropical storm strength, trees started falling.  Back in the swamp I saw two trees fall over as if they were being filmed in the next Steven Spielberg alien flick.  Then I heard others in all directions of the house.  “When are we next?”, I kept asking.  A nutty neighbor got his chainsaw out to cut a tree at the height of the storm.  Another nutty neighbor risked his life to go out and encourage nut one to get out of the storm.  Yes I watched the two from inside my doorway.

From the master bedroom I watched the storm for hours.  Occasionally a cat would drop by to check on me.  It was surreal.  I couldn’t help but think of Dad.

Around 1979 we took a camping trip to our #1 vacation spot Gulf State Park on Alabama’s Gulf coast.  I say “around 1979” because I honestly can’t remember the year.  My parents were divorced so it was just Dad, me, a brother, and a friend.  We knew a hurricane was looming in the Gulf but we decided to go anyway. It was an annual trip!

Only a day or so after our arrival we woke up to fierce winds tearing the tent side to side.  We hurled our bodies against the walls to keep the tent up.  I had to pee.  I did only what we could do: hold the door open and aim as best as I could.  Aiming against the wind, my urine ended up on my brother who was holding the door.  (Insert Bob Seger reference here.)

We bailed on the tent and headed into town to find the “W” on the Waffle House blown away. The 24-hour breakfast joint was open and we went in.  Afterwards we discovered our tent too damaged to finish the trip.  Even though the camping trip was cut short that year, it remains the most memorable of all my camping trips.  Dad and me must have told that story a thousand times.

As night fell we thought of Mom.

I was on a plane back to Auburn from San Francisco in 1992 when I learned of a hurricane called “Andrew”.  By the time I had landed in Atlanta and driven back to Auburn, the storm was making landfall south of Miami.  A few days later, the same brother that I sprayed with urine a decade earlier telephoned to tell me “Mother is ok.”  It turned out she and her husband survived Andrew moving room-to-room as their house came down around them.  They survived in their garage for a week before the National Guard showed up with supplies.

Tracey and the girls managed to miss all the excitement.  We kept them up to date through text messaging.  They returned home to no power.  Yet, thanks to a generator they did have TV, cold water, ice, and of course the Internet.  Luxuries countless of other storm victims of Irene and other storms didn’t have.

We’re giving thanks this week.  We’re thankful for the many memories past adventures have given us, of the family we’ve had to share those adventures with, and of course thankful to have the chance at making many more memories. And we’re thankful Irene dropped in to help us with our appreciation.



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