Saturday, September 13, 2008


I've probably written about this before, but I forget. The first hurricane I can remember was Carla. 1961, I believe. We were living in Oak Hill at the time. That storm came in at Corpus Christi and the eye passed directly over Austin. I remember lots of rain blowing across the road. Several family members from the coastal area had evacuated to Austin and there was a great big gathering of them at Aunt O's house. We went over to visit and I can remember lots of people all towering over me. The cousins were playing dominoes off and on. The women were preparing food. Lots of laughter while it poured outside. I guess that was the first Frankum reunion I attended.

A few years later Beulah came across south Texas when we lived in Smiley. We missed a couple of days of school because of that hurricane. Over a two day period we received 22 inches of rain and Smiley was completely cut off on three sides of town. We drove down to look at the water where the roads were flooded and, as always, Daddy had to drive up too close for me. I had visions of being sucked into the raging water. I never have liked being close to a lot of water.

I can remember Celia, which also came in at Corpus I think. It did not have much effect on me, but in later years I worked with a girl who had lived there at the time and she told some horror stories. They were teenagers and looking forward to a hurricane party. Celia turned out to be a lot nastier than they expected. A couple of the kids had ventured out for some reason and were driving along when my friend happened to look in the rear-view mirror and realized that a tornado had formed and was chasing them. She said she was never blase about hurricanes again.

I've never had any desire to live near the coast and when these bad hurricanes come toward Texas, I am glad that I don't have to try and decide what to put in the car and take with me to safety. I prefer to be in a position to offer refuge to stranded kinfolk.

As I was headed home yesterday, enjoying my first drive in the new car, I turned east on Highway 290 and came face to face with the reality of Ike. Traffic was backed up, headed west for as far as the eye could see. That morning I had been surprised to see that the old nursing home in Elgin that had recently shut its doors in favor of a new facility across town and been put on the market, had been turned into an evacuation center. Buses were pulled into the parking lot and people were piling out with their bags and headed inside. I thought that was a smart idea on someone's part to put the old building to good use.

By the time I got to Bastrop, the traffic on Highway 71 had slowed considerably from the 2-3 days prior. Still, every hotel and convenience store parking lot was full. People in my neighborhood were stowing lawn furniture and other items that might get caught up in strong winds. As it happened, the storm missed us almost entirely. I had expected heavy rain over night and was surprised to wake up this morning and find nothing out of the ordinary. Until I turned on the news and saw the damage in Galveston, Beaumont and Houston.

Yesterday morning I needed a new audiobook and I decided it was an appropriate time to listen to Isaac's Storm, a recounting of the terrible 1900 Galveston hurricane where thousands of lives were lost. I was chatting about it with a friend at work who had read it and commented that it seemed that all the bad hurricanes were much further down the alphabet than they used to be. Carla, Celia, Camille, Beulah - it used to be that the deadly hurricanes were at the beginning. We decided it must be that weather forecasting has become so much more precise that more tropical depressions are identified these.

Thank goodness for the ability of the meterologists to issue early warnings now. Galveston got hit hard again this time and property damages will be great. But at least the horrific loss of life that was experienced in 1900 is now preventable with early forecasts and having the good sense to get out.

It's a good book. It can make you grateful for advanced technology. I am grateful I live far enough inland to be out of danger. It's pretty along the Texas coastline and I like to visit now and again, but I don't want to be anywhere near when hurricane season begins.


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