There Is No Such Thing As A Small Hurricane !!!


Aug 31, 2005


The Bottom Line Life as it was known where Katrina hit will never be the same.

There is no such thing as a "small" hurricane. Those words just keep going on and on in my head as I watch the disastrous after effects of what was called tropical storm Katrina just one week ago today when it suddenly appeared in the Bahamas...It’s winds were only 45 to 67 miles an hour and at 4:30 in the afternoon we knew we were going to be hit but didn’t think it would be necessary to put up our hurricane shutters for “only” that wind speed. But, within an hour, the winds picked up and we were told this was a category one hurricane, still not strong enough to be really frantic about though we were told it would be a very wet storm and flooding was expected.


Katrina was supposed to come ashore in Broward County between the Hollywood and the Ft Lauderdale line. This concerned us greatly since my daughters house seemed to be directly in it’s path, then suddenly the storm did the unexpected, it turned south with winds and driving rain affecting the areas in Dade County that had been destroyed 13 years ago to the day after Hurricane Andrew devastated our city.


I had hoped to never hear those howling winds again, reminiscent of a train passing through the house, and, without my shutters up, I watched the wind whipping our backyard trees in a frenzy, the coconuts falling to the ground as I prayed they wouldn't knock out our windows or glass doors. I felt as vulnerable as a helpless kitten. But, we still had electricity, at least for a little while, until our luck ran out at about 7 PM and we sat as darkness approached. I could still keep up with local news thankfully due to a small battery powered Radio/TV we keep on hand for any and all emergencies. I kept in touch with my daughters by phone and learned from Lisa, who is a news producer at the local CBS affiliate that this “small” hurricane was expected to be anything but “small” At her house, where her husband was taking care of their children while she worked, what could be anywhere from 12 - 24 hours, she wasn’t sure, that their computer and TV had some sort of electric surge and seemed to be destroyed. The water levels were rising in her community, the same community that was completely flattened during Andrew. My panic levels were rising as rapidly as the water. We finally managed to get some sleep but awoke very early in the morning to go outside and survey what damage we might have had.


I could not believe my eyes, this “small” hurricane had created havoc in my yard and neighborhood....We lost 3 very old and beautiful trees, totally torn out of the ground...again we were lucky they didn't fall on our house. Our neighbor had a huge tree uprooted on the side of her house that just missed falling on our cars by a couple of inches.


We were without electricity and phone for nearly 4 days...The heat and humidity was stifling but still we were fine. The news coming in was bad but nothing at all like Andrew and we even had one comfortable night when we went to sleep at my daughter Marci’s house in Lauderdale where she still had power...Lisa, on the other hand, couldn’t even get home due to the dangerous flooding out near the TV station though they put her up in a nearby hotel. Life as we knew it just one day earlier had changed, but only for a few short days and now that I have electricity and telephone back things can get back to normal. Other than the fact that my yard and neighborhood look like the old expression, a hurricane passed through it.


But we were the lucky ones!


As the storm strengthened, after leaving us, in the warm gulf water it still didn’t seem that what is happening now in New Orleans and all of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and around the gulf coast could really happen. Our “small” hurricane had become what will prove to be the worst natural disaster in the history of our country. It’s terrible 140 mile an hour winds and blinding rain has become a web of destruction and untold horrors.


Each time I watch the news the horror hits me, that lovely old city of New Orleans looks like Hiroshima did after the bomb fell and now the flooding taking place will wipe out what was left after the winds subsided.


I watch in horror as survivors, those lucky that they have survived, are plucked from their attics and rooftops by helicopters as the waters rapidly rise in what was left of their homes.


I watch in horror as they talk about the 30,000 people in the Super Dome who have to be evacuated to Texas now because of the damage caused and water coming in...no plumbing, no water to drink, no food. Thousands of people who went there to be safe were safe no longer. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for them in that huge building which my daughter mentioned to me that she was worried would end up being a death trap for all who would be in there..I still don’t know how she could predict something that awful would happen there.


I watch in horror when the videos come out showing the looting, the sheer pandemonium in the streets of New Orleans as the water keeps rising.


I watch in horror when I see the total annihilation of the small parishes and towns along Lake Pontchartrain and Mississippi River as the waters keep rising because the levees failed and the water pumps can't be turned on without electricity.


I watch in horror when I saw videos of what was once a magnificent aquarium reduced to rubble, the fish, the marine mammals gone, one Sea Lion found dead today, another injured, nobody knows what happened to the rest.


I watch in horror mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands searching for loved ones who have disappeared or were washed away in the raging floodwaters. And those who sadly and frantically search for their missing pets.


I can’t even go on with this narrative as the tears fall down my face and I see the images in front of me of this unbearable and incomprehensible destruction taking place to my neighbors just north of us. This storm that came ashore as a “small” hurricane, had it formed just a day or two earlier could have hit us with all its might and fury, and I, along with all my loved ones, neighbors and friends could have been in that path of total devastation. We were the lucky ones and now we can only pray for those that were not.


The task of what lies ahead in the search and rescue missions seems to be one of such enormous magnitude I just can't imagine how it can be accomplished.


I will never underestimate a Small hurricane again, a hurricane that has left $100 million dollars in damage to South Florida alone with 10% of our population still without electricity, many still clamoring for food, ice and water, from Katrina who hit us when it was still in it's infancy.


Update

I wrote the above about noon today, now, 12 hours later, I am even more dismayed having just watched hundreds of thousands of U.S citizens waiting for help, waiting for the bare essentials, food and water, many just to know that help is on the way...I watched tonight in horror the masses of people being herded into buses, the scene looked more like a raging mob scene in a disaster film taking place in a third world country then in the United States of America...I truly hope and pray that help comes very very soon

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