Sunday, October 14, 2018

Crossfire hurricanes

Before I write another word, let me make it clear that I understand the hurricane damage suffered by millions of people in this country in the past month or so is next to unbearable and that the loss of life is horrifying.

Even today, as I write this, isolated portions of Davidson County, located at least 200 miles inland from any hurricane landfall, are still without the incredible convenience offered by power, and there has been enough property damage to keep contractors busy for months.

But in point of fact, this area has been hit by the tropical storm residue of two hurricanes within four weeks: Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.

We were literally in a hurricane crossfire. Florence came inland from the Atlantic coast in mid September, making landfall near New Bern and giving us here in the Piedmont plenty of rain and wind gusts close to 40 miles per hour as she made a crazy westward track against the jet stream before looping northeast.

We parked our cars in the treeless parking lots of nearby businesses.

A tree in our neighborhood fell and took out the power for a few hours.
 Then, this past Wednesday morning, Michael came up through the Florida Gulf coast, still a Category 2 hurricane when he hit Georgia.

By the time Michael reached Davidson County on Thursday, he was a tropical storm. And for one hour, at least, he was packing wind gusts of 55 miles per hour right outside my house. He was going from west to northeast, urged along by the jet stream. Go figure.

I was a little nervous. I can't remember the last time I saw rain come in horizontally. Does rain ever hit the ground if it falls sideways?

A tree in our neighborhood fell over, blocking a road and taking some power lines with it. I could tell that my neighbors across the street were suddenly powerless. No lights. They had nothing to do except go to their front porch. That's how you can tell the neighbors have no power. They come out and stand on their porch.

Strangely enough, I saw this event happen in real time from my dining room window. I saw the sparks fly as the wires broke free from the pole. I called the utilities department, got a live voice, and within 10 minutes a fire truck was on the scene, barricading the road. An hour later, an utilities crew was working in the storm, which had abated significantly. And less than three hours from my call, power was restored.

That was amazing.

Natural disasters and their impact are relative, of course. The damage in Lexington is nothing compared to what happened in Mexico Beach, Fla., which has been virtually obliterated. And yet, there's been flooding and ponding in the streets of Denton. Hampton Road, the shortcut between Davidson County and Clemmons, was under Muddy Creek.

All we can do is cope and make our way the best we can.

Until the next disaster.


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