Friday, January 21, 2011

Hurricane Gustave

       The people are gone, having long been ordered to evacuate; prized possessions stuffed into already overflowing car trunks and trucks. Family members crowd(ed) into cramped vehicles as no one wants to be left behind. All is quiet in anticipation of what is to come. And as Mother Nature has a way of doing, she creeps in quietly, tiptoeing as she sneaks in on us. A slight breeze, the still air, an eeriness that lets you know how all alone you are. The wind picks up and the leaves in the trees grow restless. You notice that the birds are gone and even the pesky mosquitoes have taken shelter from the ever growing ominous storm that is brewing.


       On Monday, September 1, 2008, Hurricane Gustav roars into south Louisiana in the early morning hours. With sustained winds clocked at 110 miles an hour and gusts of 135 miles an hour, South Lafourche is ambushed and hammered by high winds and rising water. Locks have long been closed and breaks in the levees shored up as much as possible. The parish is as ready as she is going to be.


       In an instant she is upon us. The winds begin blowing as though they are trying to chase everything in their path forward and the rain begins to fall as though everything in its path needs to be fiercely scrubbed clean. The few who have stayed behind make their way to shelter pushing doors closed with all of their might hoping to keep Mother Nature at bay. Darkness descends (descending) around us.


       In the midst of howling winds and rattling shutters, one(you) would not think that one could find peace. But looking out into the dark night, lit only by the occasional streetlamp, the outline of a pecan tree can be seen dancing and swaying in the winds, much like a child who believes that she is dancing all alone in her make believe world. The finale of the dance is as graceful as that of a ballet dancer as the top of the tree gracefully bows down to the ground in a final curtain call. A miracle dance in the midst of destruction; a glorious sight to behold. How lucky for those who are among the fortunate to have witnessed it.


       And as the winds begin to subside and light begins to show itself, we find the rising tides have engulfed our ordinary existence. It is hard to believe that the waves that once created hours of entertainment as a child or lulled us to sleep on a beach as an adult could venture in and invade our homes, flowing into the deep recesses of our houses, and then recede taking with it the hopes and dreams that we once harbored deep inside our hearts, leaving in its path, debris and ugliness and destruction. What was is gone.


       The people begin to return. The daily silence is punctuated by the beeps of appliances, once never given a second thought, as power ebbs. The noise of generators permeate the ensuing dark nights as people search for relief of circumstance, a normalcy of a former life, if only for a few hours. And as the power returns and we are finally able to look around and breathe, we begin to realize that our former lives exist no longer. A new normal must be found.


       As the sun and clearing skies begin to greet us once again each morning, a new normal begins to emerge. We sit on front porches and in swings under trees that Mother Nature failed to touch watching a slow moving caravan of out-of-state workers head north after spending an endless night trying to restore power to those who have been without for so long. It is as though the vehicles in which they travel sense their weariness and seek to lull them into a restful sleep. We watch as a faster moving caravan of rested men travels southward to replace them. Anyone who can help, does, for the human heart cannot bear for another to suffer so. And the sun rises higher and the day is a start to a new life for many.


Written: September 15, 2008, Published in August 2010
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1 comment:

  1. So beautifully written! I LOVE this: "a new normal begins to emerge." Such an awesome line :0)

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