On the sad side of a bad storm

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 23, 2004

Anna Monica – Ripples

Reaching for the remote to turn up the volume on the T.V. while watching the Olympics the other night made me think. Rising from a comfortable chair in a dry house to get a drink of clean, cool water from my Abita Springs water cooler made me think again. I thought again as I ate a snack before going to bed, flicking on a T.V. in the bedroom while settling down in a comfortable bed, cozy and protected by real, in-tact walls. All the while, though, I felt a sad because of the suffering of those hurricane victims in Florida who had no access to any of these pleasures, no matter how simple.

If those people were Olympic fans as I am, they were probably denied the comforts of home to watch them. Some Floridians were and probably are cleaning up the destruction nature has wrought upon them, plus standing in line for water, ice and food. Some of you, like me, can readily identify with them after having gone through Hurricane Betsy over thirty years ago. An experience like that is unforgettable, no matter how hard you try. We didn’t expect to survive the night of “Betsy.”

Afterwards, we were among those needing water and ice and having no electricity for two weeks. I slept on a mattress on the floor for a year in the house from which we eventually had to move . They say that “Betsy” was a “category three” hurricane, close to a “category four.” It could have been a “four” and in our area we were continuously on the “bad” side, never having had the eye pass over us. Fr. LeBlanc, in Raceland at the time, told us what the eye was like – birds singing and calm before it blew again. For us, the battering seemed to go on forever. Of course, bad storms always seem to occur at night. If we could actually see the destruction as it occurs it might be too frightening, but I don’t know.

What I do know is that the biggest problem we could have in the event of another major storm is inexperience, resulting in complacency. Younger people who have not been threatened in a big way cannot be expected to be afraid of something they don’t know. It would be up to the rest of us to be convincing of the terror to be faced.

What I do know, also, is that the other day as I sat across the table from sister Phyllis and brother-in-law O’Neil, enjoying a scrumptious fish po-boy, prepared fresh in a clean kitchen, enjoying the view of an exceptionally beautiful sunny day where all the trees were lovely, green and still standing, traffic flowing normally and everyone was safe, I thought of those people in Florida and their tremendous lack.

I felt very grateful.

ANNA MONICA, a native and resident of Garyville, has her column published each Saturday.