Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hurricanes and tornadoes

We were the veterans, the year of '92, the big one until Katrina. After August 1992, whenever a TV reporter "in the eye of the storm" stood in a puddle with his collar turned up, we rolled our eyes. Whenever they recounted the terrors of the wind, against a backdrop of palm fronds and leafy boughs, we'd chant:
"Leaves on the trees! Ain't no hurri-cane!"

Hurricane Andrew gave us our standards and our bragging rights. But only about twenty-four people died. Five of them, a mile or so away, had been in a small apartment complex. The way the building had been tossed around it was said, meant "That had to be a tornado."

Joplin, Missouri looks now like Homestead and Redland in August 1992. Andrew also had winds of 200 miles an hour. But hurricanes are better than tornadoes, we say- you can prepare. You can buy bottled water and baked beans and nail plywood over windows. Andrew was strange though, came up suddenly, out of the blue. We were OK. No last minute hysteria at Home Depot. We already had plywood and double headed nails and an old house with wooden window frames you could hammer nails into. That's why our house held while most around us popped. Would plywood make that difference now?
Maybe this hurricane season we'll find out.

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