September 04, 2004

Tales of a Hurricane

I've been wondering how to tell Kay's story. I'll start with her decision to stay put in her house in Wilton Manors, north of Ft. Lauderdale. There really weren't many places for them to go: shelters wouldn't work because she has severe allergies (no—I mean severe), and they can't necessarily get out of Frances' path, since that path appears to potentially encompass all of Florida, along with parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

On Wednesday night we were really starting to worry: Frances was being trumpeted as a Category 4 hurricane, and she was going to be everywhere. When I got home from T'ai Chi class my husband was glued to the Weather Channel. I watched, horrified, as the satellite images showed Frances to be twice the size of Charley.

"Call Kay," I told the Attila-Hub. But I e-mailed her that night as well. He and she spoke the next day.

On Thursday word came—and an e-mail confirmed—that Kay and her erstwhile business partner were going to remain in her house. She reasoned that it wasn't too close to the beach, and had been built in the 1950s, when codes were strict. The roof was bolted on. They were springing into action, though, and boarding up all the windows, securing anything loose, and preparing for an indefinite period of time without power. The have a generator, but got batteries anyway: there was every chance they might lose the car.

As their efforts slowed down, we heard that Frances might be a Category 3 after all. On Friday the news was a sense of anticlimax in Florida: the authorities were having trouble keeping people in shelters for a storm that was supposed to land that day, but hadn't yet. Kay sent us more mail: "hurry up and wait" was the slogan.

She wanted us to help with a message for Frances. Kay's good with details like that. "Give a directional for the storm," I suggested. "Like:

250 miles

Maybe you can fake her out."

So they did that. And then there was more waiting. Kay used the remaining power to bake bread. She fretted about the lumber at a nearby construction site, wherein the owners refused to sell boards to locals. It's apparently just sitting there under a carport-style roof—no walls at all—with nothing much to keep the wind from throwing it into the air. A huge pile of missiles. I hope the company gets the pants sued off it from the damage caused by this stuff, 'cause they had a chance to fix the problem.

More family arrived, and people got snippy for a while as they ran out of things to do. I think that happens. In a weird way I almost envy the Floridians, since they get some warning about natural disasters (our worst disasters here are earthquakes, and they just hit when it suits them). But the waiting game doesn't sound like much fun at all.

They are still waiting as I write this. There's still power there: I got a note just an hour ago.

It'll hit during the day on Saturday. Frances is now officially a Category 2 hurricane.

Mother Nature knows all: the storms that aren't supposed to be all that bad turn out awful. The ones that are supposed to swallow the state whole . . . don't (we hope). She gets the last word.

Please keep Florida in your thoughts and prayers.

UPDATE: Kay's mother just sent a note to everyone on her mailing list ("reply all" can be a beautiful thing). The house held up fine, and so did the spirits of hosts and houseguests alike. The generator is working, so they have power for the fridge—but little else. Apparently, it's turning into quite a fine little camping trip. Naturally, I'll hope to know more when Kay herself gets consistent phone access, or goes online.

Thanks for the good thoughts and positive energy.

Posted by Attila at September 4, 2004 02:40 AM

Hurry up and wait, indeed. Sigh. They are still predicting winds gusting up to 60mph here... but it looks fairly certain we won't get a direct hit.

My best wishes to the east coast. I hope everyone comes through this ok.

Posted by: Kathy K at September 4, 2004 03:27 AM

Good luck. I'll stop by your blog for updates over the weekend. Post when/if there's power, and if you aren't too tired.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 4, 2004 03:47 AM

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