Ten Years Ago Today

Hurricane Ivan. Some of my posts.

So, Right About Now ~ 9:15 P.M., 2004 ~ The Phone Rings

…and it’s the Mountain Man.

“So, what the fuck you gonna do?”

“What’re you talking about?”

“The hurricane! What the fuck you gonna do?”

“Oh, we’re okay. It’s going to Biloxi.”

“No, it’s not. It’s headed right towards you.”

“WHAT? Where’d you hear that?! Ebola! Change the channel to John Ed!”

Oh, well…shit. All those freakin’ calculations about how far Biloxi was (131 miles), how far out the Cat 4 winds extended, how far out the hurricane winds extended, wasted. And I hear about it from Seattle! The next phone call was Bingster and NJSue…saying “good-bye” as upbeatedly as they could. How did everybody know but me? Just my luck, but it probably saved me a couple hours worth of fruitless worrying that I could do nothing about.

What to do when the house was already as cold as a meatlocker (in anticipation of power loss coupled with a closed house ~ not comfortable after even an hour or two with three adults), all the “valuables” were tripled wrapped in Hefty garbage bags and stuffed into the dishwasher, oven (both of which then had their doors locked) and the dryer (door duck-taped). Paintings, etc. were up on the beds in case we flooded. Both tubs were filled to the brim and covered with shower curtains to preclude evaporation, while every pot and pitcher was filled with tap water, as well as both sides of the kitchen sink and the washing machine. I had a spot cleared in the back hallway and ebola’s mattress staged in case the roof went and we had to get major dad someplace safe. (I remembered the ‘mattress as head cover’ trick from someone’s description of Andrew)

That’s part of my peace with these things ~ anal retentive preparation.

And nothing to do but wait.

Gulf Power kept us lit until about 10:30 or so ~ pretty damn admirable, considering how biblical it was when the power finally did poop out. The hand helds we were using between the Squid Terrorist and us crackled through the night with voices from the apartments near us, some folks using the same channel. Comforting at first and we’d just switch around them. But as the wind started to rise and the rock ‘n rollin’ began in earnest, it got pretty disconcerting. Because they were scared. Really scared. The roof had started to drip or the door’d flew open. One fellow we heard tore our hearts out.

“Help me. Please help me. Is there anybody out there?”

There was and we were, but all we could do was offer encouraging words. And change up the channels again, because we needed to know we’d conserved the batteries as best we could in case WE needed to let the other household know we were in big trouble. Not that they could have done anything, either, but they’d come looking for us in the morning.

It’s freakin’ grim. The roof is flexing in ways I’d never imagined and rain is being driven in the roof vents, so that there’s a teeny little snake of damp spreading its way across the center of the cathedral ceiling. The noise is deafening. Indescribably evil.

All I can do is wander from one part of the house to the other ~ checking ceilings for leaks, God knows what I’m looking for. I’ve got a little circuit I’m repeating over and over, but I’m always drawn back into our bathroom. There, in all the cacophony of the heavens gone mad, right above the linen closet…is emanating the teeniest, tiniest, most terrifying, barely audible squeak of all time.
“EE-yah. EE-yah.”
The rafters flexing and I fixated on it.

“Mom, will you sit DOWN?!” Ebola saved me with his crankiness. We settled in to listen to John Ed on the radio. You learn pretty cool things in a situation like that. For instance, someone called in (WHO still had a freakin’ operable phone?!?!) and asked about the old wisdom of “open a window to even the pressure”. No one had an answer that second, but, a couple minutes later, an engineer called in to insist one should NEVER EVER open that window. Apparently modern houses are built so “tight” that an opening ~ be it door, window, etc ~ allows all that pressure to flow into the house with no exit. Right up to where your roof blows like a giant Jiffy Pop bag.

Who knew?

By 1 a.m., 16 September, Ivan was roaring outside with everything he had. So I thought.

By 3 a.m., Ivan was making it abundantly clear that he’d just been warming up and I was pretty thankful the batteries were keeping the radio humming along, since we needed the distraction. You start thinking “couple more hours, couple more hours”, but you’re just faking yourself out, since no one really has a clue what the storm will do. It’s pretty much calling its own shots and you’re just there for the ride, if you’re foolish enough to be in the way.

Ebola and I had long ago shoved the 3 stacked coolers (with 60-80 lbs of ice per) against the front door, and were continually wringing out sodden beach towels from the wind driven seepage. You could call us “preoccupied” when the walkie talkie lit up, and it was the Squid Terrorist. It was mildly upsetting to hear the, um, “frantic” in his voice while the Furies shrieked and screamed overhead and all around.
He was in the process of hammering 2 X 4’s across his bowing front door, threatening to use the china cabinet when he ran out of that wood (“Not MY china cabinet, you don’t!” we heard in the background.). Because, he shouted:

“It sounds like the Devil’s trying to beat his way in!”

He was. He had certainly come to town.

2 Responses to “Ten Years Ago Today”

  1. Dr Alice says:

    Unbelievable. I have never experienced a hurricane. After reading this, I hope I never do.

  2. Mr. Bingley says:

    I remember how scared poopless we were when Sandy went overhead, and she was a piking amateur next to Ivan.

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