Charley made us all storm believers
DOROTHY L. HARRIS, Highlands TodayTropical Storm Isaac has blown through and hopefully reminded us to prepare now that hurricane season has cranked up. Within Harris & Co., storms aren't just a weather event, but a major focus for the duration of the storm due to Mr. Harris serving as part of our local emergency management team.
Published: August 30, 2012
Published: August 30, 2012
With spaghetti models, tactical rescue terminology and activation planning, our home becomes an operations center of doom, gloom and potential destruction. Only first responders and their family members can probably understand this phenomenon. When disaster is going to strike, it's time to plan, prepare and hunker down as hubby heads off to work.
Around the home base, our jobs are to make ice, stock canned goods and know how to run a generator because most times, we are on our own. It's all part of the lifestyle and I can attest it's easier with teenagers than small children. Teens can work, understand what's going on and while they don't like dad's absence, they get it.
This storm, I was pleased to see folks stocking up on bottled water and canned goods. Most were polite and seemed calm, but focused. I imagine they, too, are remembering Hurricane Charley's "wobble." If you weren't here for 2004's triple play, you need to start asking your neighbors for some insight. Hurricane Charley made its infamous turn late in the game, introducing many in our county to what a hurricane can actually do this far inland.
For this crew, it was a rude awakening. Listening to the sound of shingles ripping off the roof while the neighbor's aluminum shed pieces slammed against the side of our house made for a rather wild night. Losing power sometime after dark and not having it again for seven days made me so incredibly thankful for electricity that I danced in the street when the power crews arrived. A hurricane will do that to you.
I had bought Gatorade, canned spaghetti and batteries since I had seen photos of downtown Sebring following Hurricane Donna in 1960. I kept thinking about them as Mr. Harris went over weather details. People at the store laughed, but I figured I'd sleep better knowing I was prepared.
As it was, the stocked food fed quite a few of us, but being a coffee snob backfired as I had only whole beans. Several days later, realizing power was not imminent; I poured beans into a baggie and took a hammer to them. It relieved storm stress and the scent of brewing coffee steeping on the gas grill brought over the neighbors. That coffee was the worst tasting, best cup of coffee I may have ever had.
My neighbors proved to be a resourceful bunch and pulled together to ensure we all had enough gasoline, ice and food until power was restored about a week later. If you've never had to operate this long without power, it's an experience.
I still remember noisy generators running all night and unending humidity. I remember how long it took for stores to restock food; how school opened, then closed again. I remember waiting for gas stations to get fuel, buying blue tarps, the kids putting tadpoles in the fish tank, and trying to cook outside in the rain.
I remember chainsaws singing and debris piled so high down our street that it took weeks for it all to be cleaned up. We learned a lot in 2004; let's remember those lessons and prepare ahead of time whenever these storms come calling.