365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Hurricane Kate

Yes, I know that everyone in the area is getting ready for Hurricane Irene… and now you’re asking yourself what crazy “Kate” I’m talking about. I think I mentioned a time or two (and definitely hinted at yesterday) that I am so not a fan of hurricanes. Well, there’s a good reason for that and I thought I’d share the story today as I watch the rain and wait for the winds of Irene to pick up around us.

In 1985 (when I was about 6 years old) I experienced my first hurricane. From 1980 to 1986 my family lived in the Turks & Caicos islands. If you’re not familiar take a quick sec to go look that up on a map….. Welcome back…. So back in the early 80s the islands weren’t anywhere near as commercialized or built up as they are today. In fact my dad was part of the massive group of tradesmen in the islands building airports and hotels and business and trying to help increase the attractiveness of an island getaway for wealthy tourists. As you may have figured out I was quite young when we lived on the islands and I don’t remember much of the early years. I remember almost all of the last year we were there and I remember lots of bits and pieces in between but they probably don’t string together in any real logical fashion. But Hurricane Kate….that I remember.

At the time we lived on the islands you didn’t really have television or telephones in your home… there wasn’t really the infrastructure for all that on the island. Every home had a CB radio and you got your updates, message and news in this manner. I remember my mom telling us that we’d gotten hurricane warnings every year that we lived there. And every year we spent hours preparing for the storm and nothing actually ever came of it. They almost always skirted the islands with nothing more than a little rain blown our way. But, my mom was nothing if not prepared. So, when the warnings about Kate’s imminent arrival on the island came across the radio my mom did what she always did. She taped the windows, stock piled food, filled the bathtub with water, packed up all the outdoor furniture into the living room, and made sure we had a good supply of oil for the hurricane lamps. We lived right on the beach…. literally steps away from the ocean… so if the storm hit us you could bet we’d get the brunt of it.

The day the storm was supposed to hit my mom was going into ‘town’ to get some more supplies… oil for the lamps, food, batteries, etc. She went over to the neighbours house to see if they needed anything. From what my mom tells me they laughed and said no, that the storms had never hit us and that in their years on the island all the extra preparation and planning had always turned out to be a big waste of time. Of course, my mother had no intention of slacking in her preparations so after telling them that they’d be knocking on her door later to borrow supplies she headed out to finish getting ready.

Here’s what I REALLY remember about the storm… it started getting a bit windy and rain just as we were eating dinner. The power was flickering but it didn’t go out. We read stories and played games until bed time and my mom tucked as all in just as the lightening started to really pick up and the winds were howling outside. A few hours later we heard this big crash as a board was thrown through one of the windows in my parents room. At this point, my mom and dad and all three of us girls were huddled together in our (the kids) room. This part I don’t remember but apparently my mom wanted to tie ropes to all our ankles and attach us to the bed in case the winds tried to pick us up but my dad convinced here that was actually a really bad plan…. now, whether that particular event is true or not I am not sure. But I do remember ALL of us – including my parents – being more than a bit freaked out. A little while after that we heard another big crash as a window was pulled (frame and all) out of the back wall of the house. Since rain was pouring into the house and the window didn’t appear to have broken my dad went out to get it and hammer it back in place….kinda stupid…yes… but the storm had died down a bit at that point and my parents didn’t want the house to flood.

Now, here is the kicker…. some time after dad fixed the window (and I can’t really tell you how much time passed in between these two events) the storm turned…we’d thought the core of it had already passed us over and that we were out of the woods but I THINK it turned around and moved back in our direction. All I remember is that there was this incredibly large crash and cracking sounds… like breaking branches but a 100 times louder. We were way too scared to go figure out what had happened so we just crowded together and waited it out. In the morning… when most of the storm was passed and there was just some heavy rain and winds left… but you could move around and go outside.. we ventured out to check out the damage. Turns out the center section of the roof on our house (over the living room and dining room) was completely gone and there were a few inches of rain in the house. All my parents furniture (which was incredibly heavy) was blown into the kitchen and the missing section of roof had been dropped in our neighbours back yard. The only thing still standing in the living room was this 4ft high driftwood carving of and hunched old man. The carving weighed all of about 5lbs but some how it never even moved during the storm. My mom called him our ‘guardian’ and it is one of the few things she took back to Canada with us when we moved back about a year later. Funny enough… the neighbours who didn’t prepare anything lost only a single lamp off of their upper deck.

Imagine being six years old and hearing winds tear the roof off your house…. this isn’t a sound that you forget and it’s not a sounds you want to hear again any time soon. This is why I am not a fan of hurricanes in any sense. It’s why the combination of powerful winds, heavy rain and crashing thunder actually scare the crap out of me. Most of the experience has now been reduced to a child’s memories and stories that have been told time and again. I am sure that some of it has been a bit embellished…as happens with stories over time. But, the fact remains… in 1985 Hurricane Kate ripped the roof off of my house while my family was inside it and dropped it in the neighbour’s back yard… this part we have a video to prove.

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August 27, 2011 - Posted by | Challenges, Life, Random | , , , , , , ,

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