Big storms coming soon
I passed out in my hammock
God, I slept way past noon
Stood up and tried to focus
I hoped I wouldn't have to look far
I knew I could use a Bloody Mary
So I stumbled next door to the bar
I’ve found myself mentally looking over my shoulder the past couple of days. You know, like when you feel there’s a powerful force lurking out there just waiting for you to let your guard down.
No, I’m not paranoid. Really. You’re not paranoid if something actually is out to get you. In my memories their names read like a rogues’ gallery of malcontents:
Hugo – ’89
Emily – ’93
Fran – ’96
Dennis – ’99 (x2)
Floyd – ’99
Irene – ’99
Ivan – ’04
Katrina – ’05
Rita – ’05
There are a couple of other hurricanes I’ve been the fringes of, but their names are lost to me in the mists of time - and alcohol. Definitely alcohol.
Honestly, along with a desire to move closer to my family, the dream of moving somewhere that didn’t have a bull’s eye painted on it was a big part of my leaving Texas. After covering Katrina and living through and covering Rita, I was through with tropical cyclones.
We bitched and moaned up here when the power went out for a couple of hours or a day or two last month. But imagine what it’d be like if the greater D.C. area was without power for eight days ... and the farther reaches had to do without for weeks. Say end of September until Thanksgiving. That’s what happened to the town where I lived after Rita slammed into us on Sept. 23, 2005. Do you know how long it took me to break the habit of stopping at stoplights to looking both ways before pulling through the intersection? That’s what you do when the traffic signals don’t have power. (The answer: I sometimes still do it.)
I only spent a couple of days in Louisiana after Katrina, but I saw enough. I’m not downplaying what Louisiana and the people living there went through during and after Katrina. But the fact is Rita was a bigger and more powerful storm – the fourth most powerful hurricane ever – and I’m wondering when CNN is going to do it’s weekend-long coverage about the aftermath of the storm that flattened Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
Towns like Sabine Pass, Texas, and Johnsons Bayou, La., just vanished. Beaumont, where I lived and worked as a reporter, lost power around 2 a.m. on Sept. 24 and the lights didn't come back on until about 8 p.m. Oct. 1. The days were long and hot and the nights were pitch dark and eerily quiet. You really don't realize all the white noise (air conditioners, fluorescent lights etc.) that fills our lives ... until it's gone. On the plus side, you could really see the stars.
And now here comes Earl. Like your drunken uncle, all ready to spoil the big holiday weekend. Thankfully, unless you had plans of heading to the OBX or Ocean City, or up to Lawn Guyland or Bar Harbor, you shouldn’t have any problems.
But you know what? Even though I live in a hi-rise on top of a hill, I’m going to keep looking over my shoulder until our drunken fool of an uncle is well past. And then I’ll start looking for the “Rita – Five Years Later” news special.
But I won’t be holding my breath.