Just as many of you, my husband and I were glued to our TV, watching Hurricane Dorian march across the Atlantic and stall out over the Bahamas. It has been heartbreaking to see the destruction ~ and also scary as hell, because we knew where Dorian was headed after his extended stay in the islands.
Charleston was spared this time from the full effect of a powerful hurricane making landfall. Fortunately, for a city that sometimes experiences flooding during high tide, the tides and the strengthening of the storm as it reached our coast protected us from more devastating damage than lost power and fallen trees. The flooding could easily have been worse. Damage to homes could have been worse.
I haven’t heard of anyone in this area having lost their lives to Dorian, which is also a blessing.
It’s difficult to focus on anything but the storm for the week or so before it comes wandering into town. You know it’s coming, in some fashion for at least 7-10 days. Probably you’ve had some kind of expected landfall information further out than that, but most of us who live along the coast don’t tend to worry too much about it until we are somewhere in the 5-7 day range. If I remember correctly, Dorian was originally supposed to plow straight across Florida into the Gulf. Then he was going to make landfall along the Florida coast, head north to Orlando, and then we were expecting only rain by the time it got to us.
Of course, this information changes so often that early on, you roll your eyes and just get on with your life. Why waste your time worrying about a storm that may or may not even head this way?
But in the days leading up to Dorian’s actual arrival, I started getting worried. Not outwardly worried ~ I wasn’t buying up every loaf of bread in the grocery store, but worried in a more subconscious way.
- I slept even worse than normal.
- I had migraine headaches.
- I couldn’t focus on anything ~ so, no writing was done.
This is my fourth storm and, while I am far more relaxed than I was for the first one, I still maintain a healthy respect for their power. I’m reminded of that power every time I see a photo of the Bahamas, or Puerto Rico, or the Florida Panhandle.
And those images sit in the back of your brain as you wait day after day for the storm to continue its tour of the east coast.
It’s difficult to explain the feeling to someone who has never sat in wait for one of these beasts. You go on with your life all of these days, knowing it’s coming. You go to work, you go to the post office, the bank, you grab lunch at the local burger joint…all of these things are happening as if disaster isn’t potentially on it’s way to your town. It’s a little surreal.
The best way I can explain it is this:
Imagine you live in a bad part of town. You go about your life, constantly looking over your shoulder because you never know when something bad is going to happen. The gang member might be right around the next corner, or maybe the drug deal might be happening in the parking lot of the shopping center and you certainly don’t want to have a run in with either. You go through your days on high alert, waiting for the inevitable. It’s like they are taunting you…enjoying your fear, they drag it out as long as they can. Maybe you’ll see a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye, or you’ll read about something that happened just down the street from your house. You know it’s getting closer, but there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it.
By the time the storm arrives, it’s almost like finally ~ let’s get on with it so we can get to the other side of it.
We lost power only a couple of hours into the 24 hours or so that Dorian was making his way past our coast. That’s the first time we’ve lost power during a storm. We remained without power for about 40 hours total. As inconvenient as it is, we all knew we dodged a bullet and I think most of the community shared a collective sigh of relief because we all knew how much worse it could have been.
Dorian went through Wednesday overnight to Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday were for getting caught back up at work, cleaning up the debris in our yard, and putting all the hurricane supplies back in the box so they were ready for next time. Hopefully, there won’t be a next time (this season at least).
With a deep, cleansing breath ~ and a shower, because, you know, yard clean up in the south ~ I’m able to refocus on my writing. I’ve only done large edits…moving chunks of text from one place to another, but it’s something. I’m grateful to have been able to do that much.
I’m grateful to be able to sit in my air conditioned house, with the sun shining bright in my windows, where my story remained safely on a flash drive, waiting for my return.
I’m grateful to have picked up branches and not have to pull a tree out of a second floor bedroom.
I’m grateful to have propped up a portion of our fence that the wind took down, and not have had the roof torn off the house.
I’ll take these smaller inconveniences any day.
And I’ll be grateful.