Tomorrow, June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
I realize for many people not living near the coast this fact does not hold much water. But, for those people near the shore tomorrow marks the start of a six-month period of keeping their eyes on the skies and hoping for another year free from the devastation that a direct hit by a hurricane can cause.
When I lived in Florida I rode out many hurricanes from about 30 miles inland. That central location meant that by the time the storm reached me it was normally just a wind and rain maker.
The highlight of those storms being a water spout that picked up a school of catfish and deposited them in my parents’ yard. I can still picture my mom running around trying to save all of the fish that were very much out of water.
Since leaving Florida I have had a few vacations cut short due to the pending arrival of storms that I have had to outrun in my car to reach the safety of home and avoid getting stuck. To that end I try to avoid travel during the peak of hurricane season now to minimize the chances of having a trip washed out.
Upon moving to Texas I came a little closer to the shore through my proximity to Galveston Bay. While still around 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico the Bay acts as a direct line for storm surge as demonstrated during Hurricane Ike.
In the little over a decade that I have lived in Texas I have evacuated ahead of the storm twice. The first time included a 17 hour drive to Irving (a drive that normally would take five hours when not ensnared in bumper to bumper traffic) and a more reasonable seven hour drive to Gulfport, Mississippi during the aforementioned Hurricane Ike.
Hurricane Ike marked the closet I ever came to losing everything to a hurricane. Ike made landfall right at the mouth of the Bay which allowed the floodwater and storm surge to push well inland. When I returned back home I realized that the damaging floodwater stopped a mere two miles from my house.
While waiting out the storm in Gulfport I was glued to the television set watching the coverage of the pending storm. Ironically by evacuating east for the storm I actually experienced some of the outer bands of Ike in Gulfport before it made landfall in Texas.
Returning back home was like driving through a foreign land. There were still familiar sites but the parts of buildings strewn everywhere made it clear just how powerful the storm was.
One particular comment from the reporters on the seen was the proclamation that the Galveston Hooter’s restaurant was gone.
Truth be told, the Hooter’s was one of many buildings perched on stilts above the water that were picked up and tossed onto the seawall like Tinker Toys. But for whatever reason the reporter on the scene felt that the most prudent way to help the viewers at home understand the scope of the damage was to focus on the loss of the Hooter’s. The singling out of the Hooter’s made me laugh for some reason which may have just been a coping mechanism since I did not know what I would be coming home to.
To this day when I am driving along the seawall I will stop at the spot where the Hooter’s once stood and in my best Anderson Cooper voice will proclaim that the Hooter’s is gone.
After Ike the area around me rebuilt and for the most part there are few signs of the furry of the storm.
There are still pockets that have not come back and individuals still dealing with the loss but by and large a first time visitor to Galveston would not really be able to tell that a storm had flooded so much of the island.
The same is true in other places that have had storms hit. After the water recedes the cleanup begins and lives are slowly put back together.
With the exception of Super Storm Sandy it has been a few years since a storm of the major category has made landfall in the United States. Here’s to hoping for another year where the big storms stay away.
But if a storm does head this way this year I think I will most likely ride it out. It is not that I am being brave or foolish for that matter it is just that after seeing the worst that a storm can do from afar I would rather be up close and relatively safe than battling the thousands of people on the road heading north.
Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to check my hurricane supplies.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson