Watching the radar is a frightening pasttime right now.
Storms seem larger, more fierce than before, but perhaps that’s only my older eyes watching that swirl and determined path of the present hurricane.
When I was a child, my family lived in Houston. During the summer of 1964, Tropical Storm Abby hit the area. Tropical storms pack sustained winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour. That is the ‘constant’ range; gusts can exceed these numbers. The power behind these storms can sweep a person from their feet and certainly awe or terrify a child. Even young, these memories have stuck through the years as though attached with the permanence of superglue.
Our small three-bedroom, sided-house displayed front and rear plate-glass windows that were in direct viewing line of one another. As these windows were our observation platforms to every happening on Crooked Creek Street, I’m certain my mother seldom found the glass clear of child-sized finger prints and smudges. As the storm approached and the radio crackled with constant weather updates, my father retrieved rolls of masking tape from his never-empty, and constantly-fascinating tool box. With careful precision, he laid racing stripes of beige tape across the glass as though marking the spot with a large ‘buried treasure’ X. As Tropical Storm Abby neared landfall, my brother and I were constant voyeurs to a world gone mad beyond the panes. Massively tall oak trees stood sentinel in our side and back yard. The trees were so numerous, grass was sparce beneath the constant cover of multi-colored leaves. The sky darkened bit by bit until everything seemed gray. The winds built and the trees danced back and forth across the dim sky. Sheets of rain blew in, sometimes straight and flooding against the street, sometimes sideways as though simply passing through and on its way to another town. Gusts kicked up and snatched any trashcan, yard tool, or poorly attached shingle. It looked cartoon-like to us as the debris hurried down the street on its way to some unseen destination. Wind intensity increased and tree limbs snapped, some entire trees groaned then fell, power lines gave way, and transformers sparked and lit with Christmas-tree glow, and the entity of our house went dark. Our ooh-ahhs turned to squeals then screams as the sound of the storm roared through our neighborhood. Flashlights clicked on and my parents dispensed all the needed hugs and reassurances then we waited. Safe in my mom’s embrace, the power of the storm seemed to fade. I don’t remember closing my eyes or nodding off to sleep, but suddenly it was morning and the sunlight was back.
What happened the next day? Did we have a lot of damage? Glass broken, limbs down? I, honestly, don’t remember. It is the roar of Tropical Storm Abby that stays with me so many years later.
Share your storm memory. Hurricanes (or Tropical Storms) not required. Any storm memory that lives with you is welcome.
To all those I know in the path of the lion — know that you are in my prayers. Be safe.
Do drop by the porch anytime. I always have the sweetened tea ready to pour.