Blogging #HurricaneIrma – Leeward Islands

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Hurricane Irma has set a record. It has had sustained winds of over 180 miles per hour for the longest period of time of any Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It has left a horrible path of destruction in its wake through the Caribbean islands. As I write this blog post, it is passing north of Puerto Rico which seems to have escaped the worst of it with the eye off to the north.

The small island of Barbudo has been totally destroyed. From what we can determine, almost every house there has been either totally destroyed or very heavily damaged. The island has only around 1500 people. A cell tower reinforced by steel was snapped in half. The islands of St. Martin and St. Thomas have sustained heavy damage. St. Martin is said to be 95 percent destroyed by observers. Communication is down and full information is not available at the time of this post. The islands of Hispanola and Cuba are next on the agenda. Photos of Hurricane Irma damage

At this time, the path of Hurricane Irma has slightly changed. It is now projected by most forecasters to go up the Atlantic coast of Florida and hug the coast of the Carolinas. The cone of hurricane force and tropical storm force winds extend all the way west to Apalachicola, Florida on the panhandle. The storm is 350 miles wide in one direction and 500 miles wide in the other direction. A few forecasters still think it will veer off into the Gulf of Mexico and go north along the west coast of Florida.

At some point, most forecasters expect Irma to take the turn north. At the time of this post, they thought they were seeing some changes in the eye wall called an eye wall replacement cycle. They think it might be indicative of some weakening, but we will not know that until morning.

Writer’s Note: After viewing some photos of damage to the Caribbean islands, I am shaken. I can’t add personal thoughts to this post, but I encourage you to look at the photos especially if you are in the projected path of the storm. Please evacuate if you are.

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The Ghost Road

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They were driving the most challenging road they had ever driven. He had altitude sickness. They had been to the Grand Canyon. When they left for Phoenix, they took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that clung to the red rock mountainsides and took breathtaking drops down.

The road straightened out. They knew they shouldn’t turn on a dirt road. Phoenix couldn’t be this way. But they followed the GPS.

Later that night, her cousin called the police to report them missing. They scoured the desert. There was no sign of them. Not ever again.

Photo Credit Danny Bowman

Blogging #HurricaneIrma – First Day

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The monster came from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The oceans were getting hotter. They were creating these monsters. As it traveled across the Atlantic, the monster gained strength. It was called #HurricaneIrma. Before it reached the Caribbean Sea, it was the strongest hurricane in the history of the Atlantic. If there had been a Category 6, it would have been that. But there wasn’t. Wind gusts over 200 miles per hour. Sustained winds at 185.

I couldn’t bear to look away from the weather maps. It was like watching a train wreck. Maybe like watching the end of a dream. That monster was on a path that seemed to collide with my magical island off the coast of Florida. Unless a miracle happened, it would definitely collide with the state of Florida. If it didn’t weaken, I couldn’t bear to think of what would happen to the big cities. To the people in the big cities. I hoped they all had left, but I knew they hadn’t.

Then, there was my island. This winter was to be the first winter I would spend on my island. I lived at sea level. Not a half mile from the coast. Wind and storm surge were the enemies of my home on the island. Could it survive this storm? Winds of 200 mph unless it slowed down? The answer was no. It could not. It was only a small place. Not that secure. Not that steady. Not hurricane-proof. But enough for me to spend the winter. I knew I would probably not have that chance.

I’d been going to the island for eight years. I’d made friends. People I care about. What about them and their homes? I couldn’t bear to think of it. Of them. As I watched the monster draw closer, it became about them. Some had lived on the island all of their lives. Others for many years. I was a newcomer. Some were going to ride it out on the island. Some were leaving. The thought of those staying on the island scared me to death.

It’s 4:30 a.m. I can’t sleep tonight. My island, my friends, my new home are all in danger. I may never get to spend a winter there. What will it be like after this storm? What will Florida be like?

Stay tuned. I’m blogging #HurricaneIrma.

Dover and the Dignitary

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“Some big shot is flying into Dover this morning or so they told me.”

“Who told you, Jack?”

“The Captain. He wouldn’t say who it was. Very hush hush and all.”

“I wonder why such a secret?”

The three men drove the tank toward the Dover airfield. They were part of the artillery detail that was scheduled to greet the plane of the incoming dignitary. U.S. dignitaries would be at the foot of the stairway to the plane, standing on the red carpet. They didn’t know it would be the President.

Jack said, “It must be someone really important for them to bring them in secretly to Dover since we normally have the funeral and mortuary duties.”

“Strange use of such a big runway,” commented one of the men, as they lined up in formation.

A British Air Force jet landed and taxied into place. Out walked a small boy and Prince William, second in line to the British throne. All the men clapped when little Prince George waved. The men were shocked when they found out later that Prince William was going to fly with the American Air Force during maneuvers in South Korea.

Photo credit to A Mixed Bag

Play Ball!

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David climbed to the top bench of the falling-down bleachers at the old baseball field. When he was a child, he played Little League baseball here with all his buddies. He looked to his left and saw the dugout. It was in disrepair. He could see behind it from  his vantage point. Even the yard was grown up. Who was taking care of this place? No one? He knew the field wasn’t used anymore. Kids today would rather play video games or surf social media on their phones.

David had done well in life. He had an idea. Why not get his buddies together and raise money to repair the field. Try to start up the Little League teams again. He started making phone calls. HIs buddies were interested. They went to work.

The following spring, flyers were up all over the city advertising Little League. On sign-up day, the field was beautiful. There were long lines of young boys anxious to try out for Little League teams. David’s hometown, once again, had a thriving Little League program thanks to David and his friends.

The words, Play Ball, sounded wonderful to them and to the entire town.

Song Lyric Sunday – 9/3/2017 – Every Breath You Take

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The prompt for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday sponsored by Helen is breath/breathing. I thought of the song by the Police (with Sting), Every Breath You Take.
THE POLICE
Every Breath You Take Lyrics

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me
My poor heart aches
With every step you take

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

Since you’ve gone I been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby, please

Oh can’t you see
You belong to me
My poor heart aches
With every step you take

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you
Every move you make
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

I’ll be watching you
(Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take)
I’ll be watching you
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you
(Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake)
I’ll be watching you
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you
(Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take)
I’ll be watching you
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you
SONGWRITERS
GORDON SUMNER

 

#SoCS – 9/2/2017 – The Flying Fish

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When I saw that the prompt for this week was the word “berth,” I was reminded of this.

He and I got on a ship in Bergen, Norway. It had been a wonderful trip across Scandinavia, ending in this beautiful city with all the fjords. Now we were on our way to the British Isles. That meant crossing the North Sea, always rough and always an adventure. Our ship was big enough, but not too big.

We set off on our journey to northern Scotland. It was an overnight adventure. In the salon, we had assigned seats, but otherwise, we could wander through the ship. During our wandering, we found a large room with lots of seating, gambling tables, food, and a group of elderly ladies. They invited us to join them. We talked with them, played some blackjack.

The captain of the ship came into the room and invited us up on the deck. He had something he wanted us to see. He warned us that the seas were rough that night. We already knew that. We climbed the stairs to the deck. When we got to the top of the stairs, the Captain pointed toward the sky.

“Look,” he said. We did. There was a sparkly glow against the dark. We went on up to the deck and leaned on the railing so we wouldn’t fall with the roll of the ship. Out of the water lept these fish. They glowed. In the sky, they sparkled and glowed and, amazingly, they were flying. The Captain explained their species of phosphorescence flying fish. It was a sight I never expect to see again.

Later in the evening, after drinking too much creme de menthe with the elderly ladies, we retired to our berth in the ship. The next morning, those fish seemed like a dream. My hangover from the creme de menthe was not a dream. I’ve never drank it again.

 

The Gothic School

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“This place scares me, Amanda,” Carrie, a student nurse, remarked to her friend.

“Yes, Carrie, it scares me too. I can’t believe we have to live here during our nurse’s training,” Amanda replied.

“You know this place used to be a hospital for people with smallpox?” Carrie said.

The girls were walking along the corridor of the Renfield building, now a training center for nurses. They were returning to their rooms.

The corridor became cold and the girls heard a moan.

“What was that?”

In front of them, there was a dim apparition. A person walking and moaning. They ran.

100 words

Photo Credit Roger Bulltot

 

Lessons From Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Harvey

 

Today, August 29, 2017, is the twelfth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the five deadliest hurricanes and the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. As we note this anniversary, we watch with horror as Hurricane Harvey continues to drop unprecedented amounts of rain on southeastern Texas and, now, Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey is now the wettest hurricane ever recorded in the U.S., surpassing Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978. There are places in Texas where more than 50 inches of rain have fallen.

The tragedy in Houston, TX cannot be calculated. It will take years, perhaps decades, for Houston, our fourth largest city to recover. It is impossible to know how long it will take for the water to recede. The rivers and streams are still rising. The reservoirs are failing. The underpasses and bridges are failing. The number of homes that are destroyed cannot be determined yet. We don’t even know how many people have died. The ongoing tragedy in Houston, Texas is not over. In fact, Hurricane Harvey has moved back off into the Gulf and is expected to move back onshore. Houston may yet get more rain..

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 Hurricane when it came ashore in southeastern Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm when it landed north of Corpus Christi, around Victoria and Rockford, Texas.

Hurricane Katrina took over 1200 lives, primarily in New Orleans. The storm caused the levees to fail in New Orleans. The city flooded and the flood did not recede for many weeks. Many fled New Orleans and many of those went to Houston. Those from Houston who could flee and wanted to flee could not go to New Orleans. That city is already flooded. The new pumps installed by the Corp of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina have failed, at least some of them. The flood in New Orleans had nothing to do with Hurricane Harvey at that time.

My question. Why have the pumps in New Orleans not been repaired? Prior to hurricane season?

New Orleans had not recovered before Hurricane Harvey. Now, a flooded New Orleans is getting the rain from Hurricane Harvey. One has to wonder what is going to happen to that wonderful city this time.

Houston is using a large center much like New Orleans Superdome to house people who had to evacuate and they may have to open more large facilities. Will the lessons learned from the Superdome tragedy help the mayor of Houston make appropriate decisions? Do you agree with the decision not to evacuate Houston? How would you evacuate a city of 6.5 million people?

Hurricane Harvey is ongoing. The scope of this tragedy is hard to wrap one’s mind around. Did Hurricane Katrina teach us some lessons about how to cope with a tragedy such as Hurricane Harvey?

Full disclosure: I have three cousins who live in Houston, all in different parts of the city. So far, they are all right. One is without power. We’re keeping in touch and there is water very close to their homes. We have no idea yet what will happen.