Worst of times can bring out the best

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002

Weather stations have become a broken record - Isidore is coming to the south for a visit. We have all read the reports, seen the Doppler radar coverage and felt the slow decline in local weather conditions. Some of us can still remember how life beneath the winds of a hurricane feels.

Severe weather does not mix well with the surroundings of my home. Fallen trees often decorate the pathway from my home to the main highway after high winds. Heavy rain often leads to washed out sections of the road and extremely slick conditions. When the threat of a hurricane of tornado looms near, my family ordinarily prepares for a long stay under the safe roof of our home.

I remember the high winds, terrible damage and tremendous flooding caused by Hurricane Opal in the Fall of 1995. I remember the long nights spent without running water and electricity - nothing but candle light and canned meat. I guess you can view as a bit of redneck romance (not to insult those who enjoy a bit of canned meat with their Chardonnay).

My family and I spent a week without the modern day comforts of television, hot baths and home-cooked meals. Some may see this as the worst of times, but those dark days and nights yielded some of the best times with my family. It is amazing how much closer a family can become when hours of silence need to be filled.

One night stands out in my mind. The winds and rain began to hammer the paper walls (or at least they seemed like paper at the time) of our double-wide trailer. It was time to move to safer ground. We all gathered the few things that could be used and journeyed down the road to my grandparent's home - more than a thousand pounds of wood, concrete and brick assembled by my grandfather. What else could be stronger?

It was strange and calming to have some many members of the family under one roof again. We spent the entire night telling stories of our past, sharing jokes and playing card games. My father shared an embarrassing story from my childhood and my grandfather followed with an embarrassing moment from my father's childhood. It was nice to get the "dirt" on how my father really was as a child. I learned the true origin of some aspects of my personality.

I am writing this column under the prediction that Isidore will regain its strength and become a hurricane once again. I hope it does not gather that much strength. I hope we can brave the winds and the rains. I pray for the safety of those along the coast. I pray for those already touched by the power of Isidore - and those yet to be touched.

Safety is always the first priority when it comes to severe weather, but never forget to take advantage of the time disaster provides. A week spent without television and video games can be the perfect opportunity to learn more about your family.