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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

ESL, Ike And The Like

Hurricane season is shaping up to one real mother what with Gustav just landing and Hanna, Ike and Josephine lined up like a string of pearls off the coast.

North Carolina has a long history with hurricanes and since I moved to the Tar Hell state in '95, we've had 8 notable ones that have made landfall, ones with names like Fran, Bertha, Bonnie and Floyd.

I'm about 160 miles from Wilmington which isn't that far by weather standards but I had to find that out the hard way. When Fran came through in the summer of '96, some friends and I decided we would stay up and watch the doppler radar on the Weather Channel.

The rains came heavy but soon it got late and we all retired to bed.

"Hurricanes are nothing," I thought.

I had lived through the Northridge earthquake just a couple of years earlier - I felt I knew what total destruction was and what it could look like.

At some point in the middle of the night I woke up to what I thought was someone knocking at my door.

Nobody was knocking at my door.

No, but my little mill house was getting pelted with trees branches and other debris.

The next day we woke up to one of the most gorgeous days ever only to be greeted by power outages and fallen trees. Suddenly you realize how dependent you are on electricity: for money, for food, for communication.

Fran left her mark alright, plowing through beaches towns and straight up I40 through Raleigh and on to Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Some people I knew didn't have power for weeks.


Crazy shit.

And that's why sometimes things can get tricky when you try to explain these things to kids. You don't want to scare them so that every time they hear the word "hurricane" in passing they'll start to freak out. Yet at the same time you want to instill in them the importance of being informed and prepared.

And to respect the power of Mother Nature.

That said, I'll take a hurricane over an earthquake any day... at least you can see it coming.