Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hurricane Parties The 1980's Edition

Over the past 2 weeks, Atlanta has been experiencing some CRAZY winter storms, in fact 24 hours ago the governor declared a state of emergency for most of the central to north Georgia area...It actually made me think of my parents preparing for hurricanes when I was a kid......

Having grown up in LA (translated Lower Alabama for the redneck illiterate) and northwest Florida, it would be no surprise that we took our hurricanes seriously. My parents made an art form of being prepared for the worst case scenario. During Hurricane Frederic, my mom, dad, sister and I lived with my grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousin in a small 4 bedroom house...YES 8 of us lived in the house. I believe this was the storm that gave my parents the be prepared wake up call.
Front of my grandmother's house 2013. She sold in late 1980s.

Side view of my grandmother's house in 2013.
The night the storm hit, September 12, 1979, we lost power within an hour. Candles lit the house, shadows cast by the candles terrified me and the scary howls and cracking of the wind gusts and debris hitting the house outside didn't help my peace of mind...I was 3 years old at the time and remember that night VIVIDLY because I was so scared. After the storm was over, things were not as they were before the storm. The huge oak tree to the right of my grandmother's house was damaged and split in half towards the top. My dad didn't want to have the tree cut down because it was the main shade tree in the yard. I'm not exactly sure why he had it on hand but he had a huge chain like the ones used for anchors on small ships that he decided to try to use. Daddy scaled the tree and pulled the chain up with the assistance of my uncle and neighbors, they wrapped it around the tree tightly and locked it into place using padlocks of some sort. He was told that the tree would die and most likely fall on the house....35 years later, not only is the tree still alive, the chain is still in place.
The chain is a part of the tree now.
We didn't regain power until 2 weeks later. Due to the fact that my grandmother's water was drawn from a well with an electric motor, we had no water supply to the house which meant we were doomed to be dirty for 2 weeks. Gas was extremely hard to obtain due to the fact that so many gas stations around us had sustained damage, the fact that many roads were closed and Alabama Power had their hands full repairing downed lines all over the area didn't help.
A Rose's Department Store storefront from the 1970's.
My dad and uncle had no other choice but to walk through the woods behind my grandmother's house for about a quarter of a mile to what's known as Twelvemile Creek and then follow the creek up a further quarter of a mile or so to University Blvd near Old Shell Road to Rose's, one of the first stores to regain power in the area for necessities until we regained power. Keep in mind that we were on survival mode and necessities were pretty much limited to whatever food goods Rose's actually sold and they carry back through the half mile trek through the snake infested woods...Did I mention that my grandmother's yard and surrounding land was a hotbed for snakes??? Luckily, granny insisted on always cooking on a gas range so we definitely had hot meals throughout the time we had no power. We ate off paper plates due to the fact that we could not wash dishes.

My mom, being the crafty genius she is, found that the best source for water (not for consumption) for "bathing" and manual toilet flushes was from swimming pools of a recently abandoned house a block or so away and the apartment complex next door.  The aluminum roof that covered our back porch was curled up and twisted and ended up being recycled by the guy that usually dug in everyone's trash for cans. Due to the fact that my grandmother's land was surrounded by woods and LOTS of trees, we had lots of shade and were able to keep cool in the house and the yard. The aluminum roof wasn't missed during this time because of the shade the trees brought. Unfortunately, the trees also brought an outbreak of lice...(US meaning my sister, cousin and myself)...Not only did we get it once, we got it twice due to the fact that we couldn't wash as thoroughly as we needed to. RID was NOT fun with recycled water. I got it in my eyes both times that I was treated. Keep in mind, I was only 3 and I was only used to tear-less shampoo and didn't have the good sense not to open my eyes.

Fast forward...Soon after I started the 4th grade in 1985...we are let out of school early due to bad weather on the way...Hurricane Elena. I get off the bus and notice there is masking tape on our window panes and boards on the windows that aren't obstructed. I walk into the house and it seems the snack section of Revco has blown up all over our living room including chocolate covered raisins, bridge mix, butterscotch hard candy, chips and all kinds of other stuff.
A chocolate mixture similar to my mom's 1985 hurricane provisions.
My mom asked the neighbors from across the street that live in an OLD OLD house and also a trailer to come over to wait out the storm in our safer, newer and more structurally sound home. Our tub, sinks, my kiddie pool (no clue why because it's gonna rain in it anyway), a bunch of 3 liter soda bottles all filled with water. Ice chests filled with ice. Our freezer and deep freeze had dozens of Ziploc bags filled with frozen water (blocks of ice) in them. Also, the freezer and deep freeze stocked with meats of all sorts. We had canned goods (seriously canned by my mom, she was a canner) as well as store bought cans of food to last us for weeks. In our laundry/utility room, my dad has stacks of bagged charcoal for the grill. We never would have a Hurricane Frederic happen if my parents had anything to do with it...They prepared very well.

Though I don't live in a hurricane prone area, I know now how to prepare for storms all thanks to my family's learn from our mistakes motto. This is VERY useful during winter storms and cold weather power outages. While everyone is buying up milk, eggs and bread, I am in the canned good, boxed food sections of the store.

My preparedness kit??? I don't have one but I keep everything I pretty much need on hand.

Flashlights, batteries (AAA, AA, 9-volt), candles, blankets, towels, washcloths, paper towels, hand sanitizer, alcohol in spray bottles and mild easy to wash away soap. Though we have a charcoal grill, I would like to eventually invest in a camping stove like I used while I was in the Boy Scouts because I could safely use it in my garage rather than trying to cook on a grill in the freezing cold.
The camping stove I will be buying soon.
Food that I keep on hand for emergencies:
Potted meat & Vienna sausages *which Terry won't touch, Spam, cheese, crackers, nuts Chex Mix, dry cereal, oatmeal, grits, bottled water, LOTS of coffee, peanut butter, cookies and lots of candy including the bridge mix and Raisinets similar to the type my mom had on the Hurricane Elena spread.

Hurricane/Ice Storm party anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Adrian. Loved reading about you and yours once again. xo


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