In 2004, Hurricane Frances, with her brothers Charley and Ivan, attacked Florida one right after the other. These storms, especially Frances inspired my story, HURRICANE CRIMES. In this post, I recall my experiences with a Category 4 hurricane.
Frances inched her way to the Florida coast, a vast net of gray clouds
overtook the sky. Standing on my driveway, with my hair and skirt
blowing in the wind and my head tipped back, I could see the circular
motion of the clouds. The wind picked up and I watched a neighbor’s
forgotten trashcan go rolling down the road.
For the rest of the
day, I watched Dinotopia and played dominos while I waited for the
hurricane to hit. The TV would go in and out, and I remember cheering
when it fought back to life. That night, the winds became so intense
that the transformer in my backyard started sparking. Glowing embers
rained down into the darkness below. I eyed the transformer like a
ticking time bomb. Not long later, it popped with a blast of
yellowish-blue light and a sheet of darkness draped over my house.
I was sleeping, rain dropped in heavy ribbons onto the roof. Wind
slammed into the boards covering the windows next to my bed, prying me
out of my sleep several times, and I was always relieved to see the
walls were still standing around me.
When I woke in the morning,
Hurricane Frances was gone. In the light of day, which was obscured by
layers of clouds, I found my neighbor’s fence flat on the ground, the
roof over my porch torn, and my garage door crumpled.
I spent a week
with my family without power. The temperature was high, but Hurricane
Frances left behind a nice breeze. To battle the heat, I dragged my
mattress to the middle of the living room and slept with all the doors
and windows open to create cross-ventilation.
Days after the
storm passed, my sisters and I ventured into the city where we heard
FEMA was handing out supplies. Driving down deserted roads was surreal.
We didn’t pass a single car on our way into the city. All the lights
were down and uniformed soldiers stood at busy intersections to navigate
the few cars toward the relief stations. We received MRE’s (Meals Ready
to Eat) for my whole family to last a few days.
days, the wait for our power to be restored became unbearable. Finally,
Florida Power and Light workers came to our aid almost a week after the
power went out. The sun had retreated down the sky by the time the
lights winked on again.
And that was the end of Hurricane
Frances’ reign. She caused 49 deaths, 12 billion dollars worth of
damage, and wide-spread flooding throughout Florida and North Carolina.
But she also inspired a writer.