I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts since we got our power back after Hurricane Irene. It’s harder than it sounds. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever been through an experience quite like Irene. Early, early on Saturday morning I woke and lay awake hearing the wind and various thumps from outside. I knew those thumps were trees coming down. I’ve heard that final, horrifying sound of a tree dying before. These were different, though. These thumps were near and far and I had no real idea when one might crash through the roof of my house. When the power went out at 4:45 a.m., I pretty much gave up sleeping and just listened and prayed.
The gray-washed light of Saturday morning brought no real relief. The water in the creek was higher than I’ve ever seen it. I alternated watching it and waiting for it to come over our retaining wall and keeping a close eye on the swaying hundred foot tall pines in our front yard. I don’t know exactly how long the eye wall of Irene hovered a mere forty miles away from my home, but I do know the winds and rain continued until well past dinner time on Saturday. I finally realized it was over when I heard a bird cheeping outside. Peering out the window I saw him sitting on the railing beside my steps, fluttering his wings and chirping indignantly at the sky. I couldn’t help but smile because his feelings exactly echoed mine.
On Sunday we realized how lucky we were. Trees were down all around us. Trees blocked roads, smashed houses and littered yards. Homes were flooded not far away. Nobody had power. Generators and chainsaws provided a white noise for five days after. You can still hear the chainsaws and wood chippers, but almost everyone has power again thanks to the utility companies who worked tirelessly to restore it. I’ve had power and cable for going on three days and have logged on to update my blog at least six times. I couldn’t find the words.
You see, I thought I was salty. I thought I had been through a hurricane before. I thought I was a tough Eastern North Carolinian (I’ve lived here for six years now) who could weather the storm. But I’ve never seen a storm like Irene. And she was mild compared to some. Locals still talk about Fran and we all know what Katrina did. My heart goes out to the people on the Gulf Coast who are now dealing with Tropical Storm Lee. Heavy rain could fall there for 36 hours and thousands are already without power. Even as I say a little prayer for those affected by Lee and those worse affected than me by Irene, I’m keeping a close eye on Katia. Too soon to tell if she’s coming our way, but I have no desire whatsoever to go through another hurricane.
And now that I’ve found the words to express my dismay about tropical storms, it’s time for my HONEOWP update. September is Hunger Action Month, so I’m donating my royalties to my local food bank. Even when natural disasters are few and far between, there are plenty of hungry people out there. Consider making a donation to your local food bank this month. And if you want me to donate more royalties to my food bank, buy my books!
Still waiting to hear about August’s royalties to know what my final donation to Oceana will be, but I have decided to include my $200 prize money for my story “Life After”, which won third place in Hyperink’s Romance Anthology Contest. If you’d like to purchase the anthology and read my story, you can find it on Amazon (Kindle format) here: The Best of All Sins: Stories of Love and Heartbreak or on Hyperink’s website (pdf format). If you read it, please consider writing a review on Amazon!
Stay safe everybody, and take a breathing moment when you can.