Monday, August 17, 2009

the rain it raineth everyday.....

At least that’s how it has seemed this summer. This year’s has been one of the most erratic in my recent memory. Here on the East Coast. June was pretty much a month of rain, wind and thunder; July wasn’t much better. Here we are halfway through August and we’re having our first heat wave. What’s up with that?
Of course we also have the first official hurricane heading towards us. Last I heard, it was near the Lower Antilles Islands. Hurricanes are scary things—even a Category 1 is not fun. My parents lived in the West Indies from the mid 70s till the late 80s; the first time we visited them when they lived on St. Croix, Hurricane Klaus hit the island—with winds gusting up to 90 miles an hour. The worst hit overnight on the third day we were there. I spent the night convincing my 10 year old daughter [and myself] that we were all going to be fine. My parents, husband and son slept through the worst of it. My parents because they were used to it and my husband and son because they could sleep through anything. I remember screens blowing in as I told my daughter fairy tales, I remember singing Sunday school songs with the whirl of the wind as our accompaniment and I remember the terrible pressure on my head from the sudden changes in air pressure. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through. [Not counting my kids teen years, of course.]
Fortunately, my parents were off-island when Hurricane Hugo ravaged the Caribbean in 1989. Their house was totaled by one of the mini-tornadoes formed by a very condensed “eye” in the storm that stalled over the US Virgin Islands for 12 hours and had wind gusts of up to 190 miles an hour. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like, and yet the locals took it in stride. As did my parents as they rebuilt their home. Humor was the order of the day— like the engaged couple who told everyone they were now registered at the local hardware store. And my mother joking why was she bothering to sort her few remaining sheets into sets—she had no beds to put them on. We never did find their mattress by the way. Then there was one of her Cruzan friends stating he was going to try to get some new furniture, but “It all fly by too fast.” We visited the island 7 months after the storm and were quite impressed with how much had been accomplished in such a short time. Granted there was still a lot to do [such as putting a roof back on the control tower at the airport] but they were well on their way to recovering. And making improvements—like moving the phone and electric companies from the lowest lying part of the island so they didn’t flood every time it rained.
And now we are approaching the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and there are still dozens of towns and neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast that have yet to even start their recovery. How sad. Especially the loss of such a rich culture in New Orleans. Many of the artists, actors and musicians lived in the areas that were obliterated by the breach of the levees.
Let’s not forget that. And let’s count our blessings that the damage suffered around here is rare and minimal.
So, get out your sunscreen and enjoy it while you can.

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