Saturday, August 27, 2011

I don't Juan no more

September 29, 2003 dawned just the same as any other day for us.  We hadn't listened to the news or seen a newspaper for nearly a week, so we had no idea what we'd see when we looked out our window.  That's strange, we thought as we lay in bed and saw that the alarm clock showed no display.  The power is off. There must have been a storm last night.  In fact, it was still raining hard - and man-oh-man, was it windy!

The leading edge of Hurricane Juan had whirled through our picturesque Island in the early hours of that morning, already having left devastation in his wake in Nova Scotia, to wreak havoc here.  The scene out our picture window, which only the previous day was comforting with large mature maples, a lilac tree, and an uncluttered lawn, was transformed into a wasteland.  The large maple in the centre of the yard - an old friend who had sheltered my privacy and kept me company when I went sunbathing, who had bounced my children on its strong limbs as they learned to climb, was twisted like a matchstick, two-thirds of the tree lying on its side ... heavily and helplessly.  Similar scenes awaited us as we looked out other windows.  

The rain was still coming down in what seemed like cupfuls.  The gutters were overflowing.  We headed out into the elements - I held the ladder to keep it from being blown over, and hubby went up to the eaves and dug out the leaf and dirt-filled metal gutters, which he'd only cleaned about a week or two previous. We were both drenched when we came in ten minutes later.  

We were blessed not to have had more damage considering that we had a total of eleven shade trees on our property and any one of those large branches could have come flying through that picture window.  One almost did reach it, snagged about four feet away from the living room window, about seven feet off the ground, by the crook of a branch that was in the tree closest to the house.  And as the sun came out and we surveyed the damage, grief at losing three of those trees mixed with gratitude that we hadn't lost more - much more.

Fortunately for us as well, the Tim Hortons about 3 minutes down the road from us was open and had a generator - and the road was relatively clear between here and there.  We had not yet been hooked up to the town water and sewer, so we were relying on our well and (electric) pump.  We were therefore unable to use our own bathroom.  So we became Timmy's most frequent uh, customers for three days until the power came back on.  And - in spite of the loss we felt - we considered ourselves fortunate.  Some people in nearby Nova Scotia lost parts of their homes - washed away in the storm surge - and were without power for well over two weeks.  

The Public Gardens after Juan: Sept 29, 2003
Source of this photo:
Since that time, during hurricane season, I regularly visit a site I never knew existed before Juan.  It's The National Hurricane Centre - (here's the link).  

I found myself wondering at some point what useful purpose could be served by hurricanes anyway.  So I did a little research. The results made me appreciate even more than I already did, the way our world is designed.

Meteorologists tell us that during the summer months, the sun beats down on the tropical waters.  The water absorbs the considerable heat.  A hurricane is a huge heat-reducing mechanism by which the excess heat mixes with the nearby moist warm air and transfers it back up to the atmosphere by condensing enormous amounts of water vapour.  As it does, the heat is mostly released upward in the core (the eye of the storm), which lowers the air pressure very quickly, and speeds up the wind around it.  In essence, it is the earth's way of getting rid of a fever.  Unfortunately, it also has the side-effect of causing a lot of destruction if it comes in contact with people or the things with which we've surrounded ourselves.  

I don't want another hurricane to come that close to us again.  I hate the devastation that such a storm can leave behind, the lives that are lost or turned upside down because of one.  However, I understand that these things happen and that they do have a larger purpose - making the planet more liveable in general.  So when I see that one is headed in our general direction, I like to make sure we are as prepared as we can be - and trust the outcome to the Master Designer. 

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