After the Storm

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I was going to do my next blog on the topic of “Fall,” then Sandy came along. I’ve decided that I would talk a little about hurricanes. I know I tend to jump around a whole lot – no discernible major topic – but as I said on the tab “What This Blog is About,” my blog is the Seinfeld of blogs. It’s about whatever comes into my mind.

I guess I’m something of a “weather-wonk.” Meteorology has always fascinated me.

Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy had me very worried about New Jersey. I have a whole passel of kin who live in New Jersey. I spoke to my aunt and, thank God, all in her immediate family are okay. Some are without power, but all are well. All my family is originally from the Garden State (both sides). My father was born in New Jersey. My Aunt Viv – who I spoke to – is my late father’s, brother’s widow. (Got that?) My mother’s parents moved to Florida before she was born, but they and umpteen generations prior were from a very small area in New Jersey.

Seaside, New Jersey Roller Coaster
(courtesy LA Times)

The photo above is from the Jersey shore. My cousins and I went there when my family and I visited. A very sad site for me. 

Growing up in Florida, hurricanes were a part growing up. We didn’t actually have that many, but we were always prepared. I guess that’s why I was so astounded that so many people in Hurricane Sandy’s path decided to stay in low-lying areas. Did they not watch footage of the destruction caused by wind and water in Hurricane Andrew or Katrina? Sure both Andrew and Katrina were category 5 storms, but in my memory there have been so many really horrible hurricanes that I would have thought that people would take note and move themselves and their family and pets to safer locations. Did they just never pay attention before because the storm was somewhere else? Did they think that they’d never be touched? I guess now almost the entire country realizes that these storms can affect just about everyone.

Here in Michigan (where I now live), we even had some weather offshoot from Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. We had 60+ mph gusts and sustained winds in the 40s. We didn’t get nearly as much rain as in the storm, proper, but we did get quite a bit. I know that virtually every state east of the Mississippi River had some ill weather caused by Sandy.

Below are some photos of the leaves that came down from the storm. In a strange way, Sandy helped with our fall clean-up. Usually, we are raking and blowing leaves for weeks and weeks. I would say that this year, it was accomplished in almost half the time.

Ankle-high leaves

Backyard Leaves
(Courtesy of Sandy)

One of the stories from Sandy that makes me very sad is that the HMS Bounty, her captain, and one crew member were lost. The Bounty was harbored in St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Basin for years. As a matter of fact, my junior-high school beau and his father were part of the crew who sailed her on her maiden voyage to St. Pete. I remember what a hoopla it was when she arrived. She became part of our city very easily. The fact that she is forever lost with her captain (also from St. Petersburg) and one of Fletcher Christian’s (the REAL Fletcher Christian from mutiny fame) multiple-great-granddaughters were lost makes the loss so much more difficult.


HMS Bounty as I remember her
(photo from

Bounty after Hurricane Sandy
(photo from Christian Science Monitor)

These storms are not to be trifled with. Who can ever forget the story of the “Perfect Storm” of 1991 in which a Nor’easter intertwined with Hurricane Grace in which there was so much damage and the fishing vessel Andrea Gail were lost.

Damage in St. Pete/Tampa area
Hurricane Donna – 1960

My first hurricane memory was that of Hurricane Donna in 1960. Daddy had to tape and board up all the windows in the house. We had sliding-glass doors in the living room, so those took a lot of work. Our house was cement block with brick, so we knew that she wasn’t going anywhere, but – the windows – those were a different story. I tried to help as much as I could with the tape. Mostly, though, I was told to keep an eye on my baby brother. When the storm began to really scream, my parents took my brother into their room with them. My room had a high window that looked over the front entry porch. Our family car was in the garage, but my dad’s little Austin Healy Sprite wouldn’t fit in the garage with the big car. He had pulled it up onto the entry porch – which had cast iron supports along one side and the block and brick of the house along the other and the front. The back, however, was completely open. I remember listening to the transistor radio that my parents had given me while the commentators were driving around the area reporting on the storm. One of them went to the Gandy Bridge (which was – at the time – the major bridge between St. Petersburg and Tampa). He was reporting the bridge closed because waves were breaking over it. That really struck home then – as it does now – because that bridge is in Tampa Bay. The bay can get really choppy, but to have that kind of wave action is almost unheard of.


I was so worried about Dad’s little car. I remember watching out the window as it lifted up (wheels completely off the ground) and bumped down. I was sure it was going to be destroyed, so I watched over it as best as I could. Surprisingly, the little car made it through the storm with only superficial damage. I always felt like I had helped “save” it.


There were several other hurricanes that we prepared for that never did much damage in our area because they changed course. That’s the thing, though, we prepared. So many have actually hit Atlantic coast up to, and including, New Jersey, New York, and much of New England, that I would have thought that they would have been prepared and sensible just like we always were when the threat existed. We always had several days – as did everyone with Sandy.

Hurricane David on FL Coast

The last hurricane that actually occurred in the area in which I was living was Hurricane David in 1979. I was living in Palm Beach County, Florida. My room-mate and I set about strapping up the windows of her four-plex condo as soon as it looked as though the hurricane might actually hit our area. Two or three days before the storm, we got all our shopping done and started boarding up windows. It absolutely DID make it dark inside, but better to be dark than have flying glass, and driving rain inside.


Waiting out while a hurricane blows outside can be incredibly boring. Once the power goes (and it’s usually one of the first to shut down), television, radio and all the “normal” activities are out. It’s a smart move to have battery-powered lights so you can read and do crafts. Two other activities that are the norm in a hurricane (at least the ones I can discuss on a “family-friendly” blog – but let me just say that I would imagine the birth-rate skyrockets nine months after a major storm) are sleeping and eating.


You can’t open your refrigerator when the power is out because all the cold escapes and goodness only knows when it will come back on. No, cold food is out. We luckily had a gas stove, so we could have hot food. We opened cans of Spaghetti-Os, beanie-weanie, and soup. We, also, had bought a couple of bags of ice just before stores and roads started shutting down, so it was cocktail hour – every hour.

Damage from Sandy

I sympathize with all those who are still trying to get their lives back to some sort of order after the storm. I feel especially sorry for those who have – through no fault of their own – lost their homes, businesses, and belongings to the superstorm that Sandy became. No matter how well prepared you are, in some areas there is just going to be loss. No way around it. I applaud all those who are out there doing their best to help.


We here at Kalitta Air are having fund raisers in hopes to be able to help some of our coworkers who have been impacted by the storm. There are many organizations that are doing their part. The groups that are out there trying to rescue and help abandoned pets have my particular interest. I’ve donated to several of them. Y’all know what an animal lover I am. Thankfully, there are associations like American Humane Association’s “Red Star,” among others. I was edified to hear that many shelters these days are allowing people who are seeking refuge to bring their WHOLE family – including their pets.

AHA’s Red Star Mobile Rescue & Veterinary Resource

If you are reading this and feel the urge to help out, I hope you will go on line and find a charity that fits your comfort level and ideals. It’s going to take lots of time, people, and donations to combat the effects of this storm.


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Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!


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