In lieu of the Philippine’s tragedy involving Typhoon Haiyan, it made me think back to one of the major hurricanes I’ve experienced, Hurricane Floyd of Sept. 1999. Thankfully there were no deaths on the island of Abaco due to the storm, but I’d like to share a bit of my experience.
My dad had gone out on “the banks” on an extended crawfishing trip and came back early because of the impending storm. And since I was already staying by my cousins, I wanted to ride out the storm with them because they were going up to the local hotel. I was 10 so I was not thinking, maybe I should stay with my dad and secure my belongings because what 10-year-old thinks of those things. Anyway, us along with what felt like was half the town, were in this hotel, people crowded two or three families to a room, others piled into the hallways in dim darkness.
When night came, so did the winds and they surely did come! Many of the rooms had glass sliding doors that sang soprano notes as the wind threatened to burst through. It was a bit scary. But in the midst of all of this, I was excited that I got to sleep on the floor in the corner of the hall next to my then crush. I know, a major storm is going on and I’m excited and couldn’t wait til the next day to tell my best friend about it. I was not a fast child so sleeping literally means sleep because when I woke, he was long up and gone.
The next day, some parts of town were still somewhat flooded, large trees that I had once thought would never move, were thrown across the roads and of course there was no electricity or water. Some of the graves had been unearthed, I know, creepy. When we were finally able to go back in town down the road to my cousins’ little wooden home, watermarks on the walls indicated that water was over 5 feet high in the house. Had we stayed there, my little four foot nothin’ self would’ve been bobbing to stay afloat. The house itself was no longer liveable. Surprisingly, all of the items we had placed on the top bunk bed in the room were dry and untouched as though nothing happened. Our uniforms, still neatly pressed and our books unscathed. My cousin should have listened when we told her put the desktop computer up on the bed too.
My cousins ended up moving in with me and my dad and we spent the next few days tearing down the house. That was fun, breaking down the house, that is until I stepped on a wooden board with a nail that thankfully wasn’t rusty and I wasn’t going to die of tetanus. In my dad’s house, besides the tv’s doing the titanic sink into the water, the house was still in tact with no major losses. I did lose my baby book and keepsake items, the only things I wish I would have saved.
The town spent the next few months rebuilding and relying on aid from the U.S. which including donated books and computers to the school, t-shirts and other articles of clothing and other essentials like food and water. It was an interesting experience, I pray I never have to relive but through any situation, once you have family and support, you can get through it. That year, me and my fellow 6th graders, weren’t sure we’d even have a graduation, but we raised funds, and sold cakes and did everything we could and had ourselves a well-deserved graduation in June of 2000.
Not sure how to end this, but feel free to share experiences you may have encountered with hurricanes or other natural disasters.