It must be obvious that I love North Carolina, but I do not love the storms, specifically the terrifying tornadoes and the catastrophic hurricanes.
Yesterday, we had some significant wind that brought with her a fifty-degree drop in temperature. The specific symptom of temp change in this bipolar state accompanies storms at times, which more often than I can handle include tornadoes, lightning, and thunder. Although I don’t mind the sky being illuminated or the sound of God bowling, I am terrified of wind, always have been.
Since I’ve lived in NC collectively for well over twenty years, storms are no new issue for me. I have learned how to manage my emotions to them mostly because when the boys were little I didn’t want them to model my fear as their own, but after decades, I still can’t relive my inner self of the nausea that comes with my real fear.
The storms began in the summer of 1996 with Hurricanes Bertha and Fran. Bertha was my first big storm with terrifying winds and so much rain. I was surprised in my research today that it hit North Carolina on July 12th, which is Roger’s birthday. We weren’t really celebrating because he was in Okinawa (of course, right?), so it was only me and Tyler, who was four, in the house. We had just arrived back in NC after visiting Mass for the Fourth of July.
Before I continue, remember that in 1996 we didn’t have internet at all so my research of the topic was solely on the news and word-of mouth, which is not always the most efficient and peace-provoking way to obtain information. I remember putting tape on the windows which doesn’t work anyway, and we didn’t have the best box of supplies. Actually, there were none. (We had only been in the state since late December. I just didn’t know what to do.)
Hurricane Fran came later, in September when the summer balminess is fighting winter’s approach. The change in temperature and the fight between water and air really causes a ruckus. It’s like Agatha Harkness and Wanda Maximoff clashing up in the skies, wanting to be the ruler. Fran differed than Bertha in that she was a mean girl with heavier rain and violent winds.
We lost power in the beginning of Fran and didn’t get it back for about a week. I did have some batteries for the radio (which I still have and use) and we were on town water so we didn’t lose it. We couldn’t go out in town right away because the wires were all over the road, some of them still live.
I do remember when we finally ventured out to see some new friends. The billboards had giant holes in them, trees were all over the place while their neighbor trees were still standing, and entire roofs were missing from houses, their owners standing in the front yard, hands-on-hips, looking up and shaking their heads.
Eastern North Carolina is laden with pine trees, specifically tall pines, so when you walked outside, it smelled like Christmas which confused my sweet memories of the holiday. It was a true mess, and the sun shone so brightly to allow us to see the devastation. (A hurricane will suck all of the clouds and systems out to sea with it so the next day is always sunny.) At least Mother Nature always offers us some bright, sunny light the day after she dishes us some death and destruction.
During the brunt of the storm, it was dark night. The sounds weren’t the howling kind of the blizzards I grew up with, but something more menacing and completely horrific. My friends later teased me because we slept under our heavy-duty oak kitchen table because we just didn’t know what could happen, but we felt safe under there. It’s not like I slept, though, because even the radio station went down so the only noise to be heard was the screaming breeze.
Twenty-seven people died because of Hurricane Fran. Property damage was in the millions.
Now that spring is here, I know my eyes will be on the weather reports more and although I will try to curb my obsession with our safety, I will have no success. Also, springtime here can be violent. I have been in-state when tornadoes hit many times, and even a watch, which means the conditions are favorable for a twister, will unsettle my stomach.
Although I am ready for some mild weather, growing veggies and herbs, and some serious beach time with my boys, yesterday gave me a little reminder of what could potentially be in our near future, especially since Mother Nature isn’t particularly happy with us humans these days. All I ask of her is to remember that I use reusable grocery bags, I recycle, and I don’t let the water run when I brush my teeth. Leave us be, girlfriend. Please, leave us be.