Preparing for the Storms
Natural disasters come in three categories: fast and furious, drawn out and excruciating, and well-planned. Earthquakes and tornadoes both qualify in the first category while floods, blizzards and brushfires fit into the second category. Hurricanes, while equally threatening, at least offer the element of no surprise. I have watched storms on satellites developing over weeks (I see you out there Ivan) and have prepared for storms that swerved and headed north (Yes, I’m talking about you Floyd) and storms that slowly hovered overhead for days (Really, Frances? The entire Labor Day weekend?).
The storms that head northward smack into Cape Hatteras or Charleston, sometimes swirling out to sea like a drive-by mooning by Mother Nature. Forecasters make these storms more manageable and my sons and I have even enjoyed a round of mini-golf between feeder bands as a last opportunity to get out of the house before the real threat arrives (take that Jeanne). During the trifecta of storms in 2004, we purchased a medley of disaster films and watched the Poseidon Adventure and Twister during our confinement.
In the Aftermath
Isabel hung around in the late summer, practically autumn, of 2003 plodding across the Atlantic for nearly two weeks and then storming in the front door near the Carolina and Virginia border, but the storm surge to the north forced the waters of Chesapeake Bay much farther inland. As one of the biggies for the year, her acclaim remains in the mind of the region’s population more than the nation’s because the following year’s hurricane season packed a wallop blowing through the entire alphabet of names. And the next year Katrina swallowed up New Orleans and most of the central Gulf Coast.
But I remember Isabel. On my trip to Annapolis, I cross the Bay Bridge and visit southeastern Maryland. Once I find the outdated hotel, I scavenge for a local restaurant in search of fresh crab because that’s what one does in Maryland. The waterfront establishment appears surprisingly empty for a Friday night. My server shares that the entire lower level of the restaurant spent the week prior submerged in the tides of the Chesapeake. She reappears with photos documenting the high-water mark, the clean-up efforts of the past week, and the ice machine previously chained to the downstairs porch stuck under one of the wooden bridges along the Chesapeake. Even with advance notice, you cannot plan for everything, including ice machines floating upstream.