…and go where?


A woman, victim of the California/Oregon wildfires, says she is moving. She’s adamant about it. “Out of the state,” she says. “Anywhere.” She can’t take the wildfires any longer. The blazes aren’t just devastating they’re deadly. In the recent fires fifteen people died and millions of acres burned. I get it! I’ve never lived near wild fires. On television they look to be awfully scary.

The weather is more threatening and menacing today than I remember growing up. The seasons themselves are confused. Summer used to reside in the summer months of June, July and August. Now it stretches itself into 6 months. Maybe September and October aren’t officially summer but the heat index says it is just as hot into late October.

So, can you really get away from it all?

Let me pose the question. You’ve decided to move somewhere in the United States. Somewhere safe from natural disasters. Where do you go? Whether it’s global warming or not, extreme weather is everywhere.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. We had the occasional thunderstorm. Some bad enough where we would flee to the basement to get out of harm’s way. Now, deadly tornadoes whip through the Birmingham metro area, leaving devastation, death, power outages and temporary homelessness.

The same can be said for the plains areas of the country. In a news clip, two big monster tornadoes touched down in the same town at the same time; tossing deadly debris everywhere.

Of course there is always the Midwest, Chicago and the like. My wife grew up there. Did I mention winter’s below freezing blizzards and summer’s extreme heat??

I lived in Los Angeles for fifteen years. I moved there a few years after the big Northridge quake in ‘94. The damage was worse than a terrorist attack. My cousin would not go back into her home for 3-months fearing the delayed aftershocks. While living there, I would joke, saying that if I was in an earthquake and I lived, and if my car parked in the underground parking garage of the condo building was not damaged, I’d without any delay, drive across country to my home in Florida. I learned not to kid about it. Asleep one morning in my big solid Paul Bunyan four- poster bed, it started bouncing up and down. Had an automobile hit the building, I wondered? Nope! It was an earthquake. At least it was the aftershocks of one. Before I could jump out of bed and run to the doorway, as emergency management instructs, it was over. The bouncing bed calmed down. Scary? Weird? Different? Yes all of that. Turns out it was the aftershock of a
quake nearly 200 miles away. Wow!

On another occasion, while working at my desk in the upstairs office, the building shook, creaked, moaned and rocked. I recognized it right away this time. But again, before I could react, it was over. Again, it was aftershocks. Glad it wasn’t the real deal.

Which brings me to the Florida Gulf Coast and hurricane season. From June through November I’m a constant visitor to the National Hurricane site on my computer; watching the tropical waves spin off the African coast and into the ocean, hoping they don’t grow into monster hurricanes and come our way. As the babies become teenagers and journey across the ocean, I
read the constant updates from the Hurricane Center. Will it grow into a hurricane? A major one? Will it come our way? Will they name it? Who cares? Are we prepared? We’re always prepared! You better be.

We’ve evacuated once. Took us six hours to drive what had been four hours. We’ve been hit, once. Hard! It was that bastard, Ivan, a true monster. Ivan roared through, flexing its muscle. When it left, it took a third of our backyard with it. Drug it back into the bay creating a ten-foot drop. Destroyed our dock and left us with stories we still talk about sixteen years later and permanent scars on our memory. Strangely, he didn’t damage the house. But we had to live with the butchered yard, the ten-foot drop and the missing deck for nearly a year. Laborers who do the repairs once a hurricane hits, have far more business than they can handle. They’ll
agree to take your job and if they show up within six-months you’re lucky. When hurricanes hit there are bigger fish to fry.

When we finally got the decking and sea wall repaired, within one-week Hurricane Daniel came blowing through. Luckily, he was a smaller category 2 hurricane and more of a blowhard. We watched television through it. Never lost power. The seawall held.

While writing this I sat through Hurricane Sally. Never ending rain, causing the water in the bay to rise to dangerous levels. The hard driving wind took several shingles off the roof. Just for fun, she destroyed the dock, and threw our boat around like it was a toy. I hardly recognized it afterward.

We’ll regroup. But back to the original point of this piece.

I’m not kidding when wondering where the lady is going to move. Does a safe spot exist? When she finds out, I hope she’ll let me know.

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