Monday, June 01, 2009


What I'm reading: Phantom Prey, by John Sandford

June brings the onset of hurricane season. Having grown up in earthquake country, it took some getting used to watching and tracking the possibility of a calamity.

Earthquakes just show up. In all my years in southern California, I experienced only one earthquake that created any impact on my life, and even that one, due to the orientation of our apartment, didn't do much more than slosh some water out of our aquarium. Then again, we made sure we weren't living directly on a fault line.

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When we moved to Miami, we were careful to avoid low-lying neighborhoods when we finally were able to afford our first house. Many of our friends opted for cheaper housing in newly built communities, but my husband refused to risk living on what was essentially landfill. He looked for areas with pine and palmetto, because those wouldn't survive in salt water, meaning they hadn't been exposed to tidal surges. And once we did buy, we installed Bahama shutters on our windows, and bought aluminum panels to cover sliding glass doors.

I remember our first real hurricane threat – David. Hubby was out of town, so it was up to me (and the 3 kidlets) to get the house ready. As neighbors scrambled to buy plywood, cut it to size, drill holes into their houses, and cover their windows, I merely twisted a few thumbscrews and lowered our shutters. The aluminum panels weren't much more trouble, and by then, hubby was home.

We'd watched and tracked the storm for days, and finally went to bed figuring we'd hear the storm when it made landfall. We didn't live on the coast, so we weren't too worried about flooding, but the lawn chair that the neighbor forgot to secure, or the flying tree branches, or the wind itself were all potential sources of damage.

We awoke the next morning—later than usual because the shutters blocked so much light, but the storm had approached land, then made a hard right and came ashore well north of us. A lot of prep work that technically wasn't necessary.

When we moved to central Florida, hubby decided we were far enough inland and on "high" enough ground not to need the Bahama shutters on the windows. Still, when hurricane season arrives, we make sure we have all the necessary supplies before the storm shows up. How hard is it to have canned food, bottled water, batteries and the other essentials on the lists provided by NOAA, as well as every television news station and newspaper? Why would anyone want to deal with crowded stores and empty shelves at the last minute.

We made it through 2004 when Mother Nature proved she could set a hurricane anywhere she wanted to. Our neighborhood was lucky—again, we were saved by orientation. This time, it was the direction our street faced. Some trees blew down, but around the corner, almost all of them did.

Friends weren't as lucky—they were trapped by fallen trees, unable to get out of their neighborhoods. They lost power, some for almost 2 weeks. We lost some shingles on our roof, and over the course of 4 hurricanes, were only without electricity one day.

All in all—I'll take an earthquake. If something's going to happen, I'd rather it come out of nowhere, do its thing, and then be gone. The anticipation of hurricanes, and all the uncertainty of their paths—not for me. However, like everything else, to a writer, it's fodder, and my Wild Rose Press short story, HURRICANE BREEZE drew upon my experiences.

Do you have a preference? Would you rather deal with an out of the blue disaster, or spend days getting ready, more often than not, for nothing?

Tomorrow, my guest is Helen Woodall, and editor with Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press. She's going to take us on a pictorial and culinary tour of Australia. Be sure to stop by.


Mary Ricksen said...

I'd like to get into a teletransporter and leave!! The hurricanes scare the heck outta me. I live three houses from the intracoastal. Which never meant a thing when we bought the house, because there hadn't been any bad storms. Though I am not in a flood area, my husband takes it so lightly, he jokes about the storms, that I worry about my windows not covered. Scary things, I hate hurricanes! Let me outta here when one is coming.

Mary Marvella said...

Amazing! I LOVE being in Atlanta, away from the hurricanes. We get some of the leftovers but not like on the coasts.