Hurricane Nostalgia

So, a few days I started writing a cranky[1] entry about Hurricane Irene. Then it turned into something less cranky as I recalled my personal experiences with hurricanes. So I thought I’d share my happy memories.
When I was in high school, I lived in North Carolina on the coast. My little patch of coast had not seen a tropical storm in the last 50 years, let alone a hurricane. Yet, within six months of moving there, our coast was hit by a tropical storm.[2]

The next year, right before I entered high school, the North Carolina coast had two major [3] hurricanes. Their names were Bertha and Fran and they happened within a month of each other. Now, my father is a Marine. He, and by extension, we, had weathered typhoons all the time when we lived in Japan. And everyone knows that a hurricane is just the East Coast Atlantic Ocean name for a typhoon. So of course, we didn’t evacuate. There was no need to.[4] We Meeks’ are always prepared.

I have the most clear memories of the days and nights of Bertha and Fran. My parents were in charge of things like food and water and flashlights. When the power went out and the air-conditioning stopped it got hot and sweaty because North Carolina in the summer is hot and sweaty. I would read until there was no light and then go to the downstairs windows and watch the rain and wind and look for fallen trees.

Then, when it was too dark to look out the window, we made our beds in the upstairs hallway, like we were in a tent just camping, and tried to sleep.

Now, this is my favorite part of my hurricane memories. I could hear the wind howling and the debris thunking against the side of our house. I heard the rain pounding and the trees cracking as they fell under the force of the hurricane and I couldn’t really sleep. So my dad and one of my sisters[5] crept downstairs and sat on the couch and began to sing.

We sang all sorts of things, like 70s rock, 90s pop, and, I think most importantly, hymns. We did this for hours until we really were too tired to stay up and be afraid.

The next morning, when it was all over, there would be clean up, cold showers, and days until the power came back on. Oddly, I have fond memories of those too, but those nights remain fixed in my mind as something like magic.


[1] It was full of things like the difference between a tropical storm, hurricane categories, and why Irene was not historic. It was also quite prideful and pompous.
[2] Something similar also happened when we moved to Rhode Island. They hadn’t had a major blizzard in decades. All it took was my dad getting stationed there and they had some of the worst snow for three years in a row. I don’t think this is a coincidence. When the Meeks’ moved to California, decided to retire, and Papa Meeks took the Bar, there was an earthquake. True story.
[3] By major, I mean Category 3 and above.
[4] Dad insists that if any hurricane had gotten to a Category 4, we would have evacuated. My past self is not sure she believes him.
[5] She is a Marine now too. I hold the hurricanes responsible. You know, until I find something else.

4 Responses to "Hurricane Nostalgia"

  • I’m just wondering how many people will argue that a Typhoon is a Pacific Ocean Hurricane.

    I remember, being much younger, that sleeping on the floor in the hallway was much easier. Sleeping on the floor nowadays is HARD.

    1 Kyle Meeks said this (September 1, 2011 at 21:50) Reply

    • That would, indeed, be a good argument. Except I’m pretty sure the Japanese would still call it a typhoon.

      I think I ended up crawling back into my bed during one of the later hurricanes. Bertha and Fran were just scary and I needed to be near my peeps.

      2 Gwynne said this (September 1, 2011 at 21:55) Reply

  • I never really experienced a hurricane like that. We were far enough inland and protected by mountains to get no more than a bit of flooding. The flooding was nice, though, because it got us out of school. I kind of liked anything that got us out of school.

    I miss snow days. >.>

    3 emeeks said this (September 3, 2011 at 20:08) Reply

    • Sadly, we rarely got out of school for hurricanes. They all happened late summer and school hadn’t started yet. Snow days were better! If we had a light dusting, or if the fog was too much, school would be delayed or canceled and that was the best >.>

      4 Gwynne said this (September 4, 2011 at 10:28) Reply

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