Hurricanes keep me preoccupied

By John Toth

I’ve had the hurricane on my mind for a while, ever since Hurricane Isaac started approaching the Gulf of Mexico.
I know that in other parts of the country, this is just another news story, but to those us living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it is a big deal when computer models start predicting a storm’s movement our way.
Between watching the hurricane and the Republican National Convention, this news junkie maxed out last week.
The hurricane took priority, though, because in these parts of the Gulf, we take these storms seriously.
Or, we should, anyway.
I do, because that’s when I start wondering why I have not done all the things I said I would do after the last hurricane threat.
We have been pretty lucky so far. The storms have left us alone since 2008. But one of these days – probably not this year, though – our luck will run out.
And then I’ll wish I would have taken my own advice and done all of the things I promised I would do, like taking that spanking new generator out of the box.
It’s been sitting there for a while, still brand new. Well, we haven’t had a hurricane lately.
Also, I’ve been meaning to custom-cut some plywood for the windows, and each time one of these storms pops up, I could kick myself for not having done it already.
After the initial anxiety goes away, as the storm turns its attention to another area, these things tend to get shoved down on the list of priorities.
Although they should not be, because I am planning to “shelter in place” when the next one hits, unless it’s a monster storm that will kill everyone in its path.
I like the phrase “shelter in place.” It sounds more official than “stay at home and wait for the power to go out.”
I sheltered in place during Hurricane Alicia in 1983. It was in the Brazoria County Courthouse. I was covering the storm for the Houston Chronicle.
That was a long night, but Alicia was a Category 3, and it came right over us. That was the only time I saw a tree being split right down the middle by a storm. It was quite a sight.
Another year, when I covered a big flood for the Chronicle, I was floating in a flat bottom boat into subdivisions, past the rows of evacuated houses. In the middle of this “lake,” was a house with an earthen dam all around it.
We pulled up next to the dam and were greeted by the owner and his dog. There wasn’t a drop of water in the house. He didn’t even have his pumps turned on.
Inside, he made us coffee, and we talked about his elaborate set-up. It made for a good story. Nobody else had it, so we played it up pretty big. I checked back with him a few days later. He made it without being flooded.
That’s going to be me in the next hurricane. We’ll be hunkering down with the dogs, all boarded up with generator ready, listening to shingles being torn off of the roof.
All I have to do it take that generator out of the box and cut some plywood.
It can wait, though. The hurricane passed us up. I’ll get to it later.