I have lived through three hurricanes: Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Two cat 3’s and a 2. Frances and Jeanne were just a few weeks apart in the fall of 2004. Wilma was October 2005.
I have also lived through some unpleasant life stuff, like getting sober, getting divorced (twice) and losing my parents and dog to cancer during a really awful two years. But nothing – NOTHING – quite compares to the mind “f-bomb” of a hurricane. Millions of people in the northeast know what I’m talking about. Unless you have been a through a catastrophic hurricane it’s hard to describe.
First, there is anxiety as you obsessively watch the Weather Channel in the days before the storm.Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky
All those colored lines showing the different paths the hurricane could take…it starts looking like the meterologists just threw a bunch of spaghetti against a map. The shelves of the soup aisle at the grocery store are bare. Bottled water – Gone. Batteries – gone. Candles – gone. Coolers – gone.
If you’ve never seen your grocery store shelves empty, it’s freaky in a very stressful kind of way. You can’t buy plywood and you won’t find tapcons for miles. I almost got into a fight with a guy at Sears who was pondering the last 18v cordless drill on the shelf when I walked up and grabbed it. Sorry buddy, you snooze, you lose.
Then there is the actual storm. Your windows are boarded up so you can’t see what’s going on out there but you can hear it. Stuff smashing against your house. The walls of your house literally vibrate. You lose the Weather Channel when the electricity goes out so have no idea how much longer the storm will go on. Frances lasted 18 hours. Relentless.
No cell phone reception. The dog – totally freaked out – poops in the house. During one of the hurricanes – I forget which one – I held my front door closed for two hours as the wind pushed it open and water poured underneath. “Mom, are we going to be okay?” “Sure, honey, go back to bed,” said me, the single mom lying through my teeth.