Whirlwind

Last Tuesday we got up at the usual time to walk the dogs. The weather looked dark and broody, like it might rain. We debated but decided to go anyway. We cannot see the Caribbean from our house although we can hear it. If we had seen it, we probably would not have left the house.

We walked the short mile down the paved road and took the long beach access called Cruickshank Road. At the sea we confronted a black sky but continued  on toward the mouth of Ned Creek where the dogs like to play in fresh water. It started to rain.

We all huddled under a leaning almond tree to wait it out, but the sky looked more malevolent by the minute.

Let’s go,” my husband said. He didn’t need to say it twice. We hurried back to Cruickshank Road, and, already soaked to the skin, I stopped to leash up the dogs.

“Suddenly a huge wind slammed into us from the sea, hurling us backward. Our two little basenjis were dancing on tiptoes wanting to get free. Electricity sizzled in the air and the clap of thunder was so loud it shook my body.  Almond trees and palms began to sway and limbs cracked overhead. My husband was already twenty feet ahead of me yelling, LET’S GO!

I am not long-distance jogger, but I took off at a dead run, the two basenjis keeping pace. The road was as dark as night and I heard huge limbs crack, tearing through lower branches, and fall in the jungle. Every time I looked up all the branches were waving about like giant pom poms. The gunshot sound of breaking limbs drove me on. At one point, out of breath, I slowed to a walk, but it wasn’t long before I broke into a run again. There were two trees already down across the road, hung up on other trees from a previous storm. Widow makers, for sure. We dashed under them hoping the driving rain and high winds would not dislodge them. The little basenjis kept looking over their shoulders for my husband and the other two dogs. I kept saying, Let’s go, let’s go.

Out on the paved road again I stopped, waiting for my husband who was only a few seconds behind. Wet through and through from the driving rain we pushed on together for the house. About halfway there the electric lines sizzled, a transformer popped, and the street lights went out. At least we had a wider expanse of road and could see trees before they fell on us, but the wind was whipping around making us worry that a branch might be swept into our path. We started running again.

Finally home, I was drying off the little dogs on our back porch when I heard a loud “thump.” I looked out to see a pejibaye  palm drop not ten feet from the house. A dozen abandoned Oropéndola nests spread out over the lawn like dirty mesh bags.

Alan stood in our open-air garage and watched the storm lash the jungle around us. It was as though a cyclone passed through. We could see the path it took and hear it ripping out trees. Trees bigger around than two people could span snapped off 20 feet up, their tops flung fifteen feet away.

Our neighbors across the road built their house and cabins in deep jungle and we heard trees going down over there. I wanted to run over, find out if everyone was okay, but I was also afraid to enter their property until the winds died down.

The whole storm took less than 30 minutes to pass. As soon as it did, we went out to check on everyone. One neighbor’s house was cut clean in half from a fallen tree, the guts of their meager possessions strewn about as the rain came down in sheets. Miraculously no one, including their baby, was injured. It will be weeks cleaning up after this. There are trees down all over our property and widow makers still hang up in trees, but we are okay. Our neighbors are, too.

Local wisdom says, Never build your house under a tree, at the bottom of a hill, or next to a river. I am glad we heeded that advice when it was given.

  10 comments for “Whirlwind

  1. 10/07/2012 at 11:17 am

    That sounds extremely scary. I think global climate change is going to bring more and more powerful storms as barometric pressure drops to all-time lows in areas that are cooked by the sun’s rays.
    Michael Offutt recently posted..HBO’s The Newsroom makes me thankful for NPRMy Profile

    • 10/07/2012 at 1:14 pm

      Yup, scary, and even scarier is your prediction with which I totally concur. This summer the U.S. has seen record breaking heat waves and violent storms; you’d think the Right Wing would begin to see there was something to this Global Warming business.

  2. 07/07/2012 at 4:28 pm

    What a terrifying experience. Glad you and your neighbors are ok.
    Cindy Dwyer recently posted..I’ll Be Your Muse, If You’ll Be MineMy Profile

    • 07/07/2012 at 6:53 pm

      Yes, Cindy, the neighbor’s house was quite alarming. I’m glad they made it through. No trees around our house so damage was minimal. Thanks be to god.

  3. 07/07/2012 at 1:38 pm

    Glad you and your are safe…and that the neighbours at least were not injured.

    We had two cyclones while in France…one took off a quarter of our roof and stripped the barns while the other was heading down the river bed…and luckily went the other way round the islands…the sound of stones ripped up from the bed was like heavy duty roadworks going on…
    fly in the web recently posted..A Load of Hot AirMy Profile

    • 07/07/2012 at 6:51 pm

      Yikes! The sound the wind makes when tearing up the place is intense, isn’t it? When the wind whipped through our place the plastic roof on our raised-bed garden was bulged up about a foot from the purlins, but our house roof and the tejas on my husband’s garage/open-air shop stayed put, gracias a dios.

  4. 07/07/2012 at 8:42 am

    I’m glad to hear you and yours made it safely through the storm. I once saw a fireball of lightning roll across San Francisco Bay. Unforgettable. Experiences like these make me feel we take each day for granted, forgetting nature’s power. We are ants. We are ants! Be safe. Keep writing!
    Beth Camp recently posted..On completing THE first draft . . .My Profile

    • 07/07/2012 at 11:04 am

      Wow, Beth, I bet that fireball across the bay was memorable. We are less than ants. There are some enormous anthills along that beach road where we ran like scared rabbits. They did fine, but I hear what you are saying about living life. Amen to that. 😉

  5. 07/07/2012 at 6:32 am

    what a story! Why is it that we think we are safer running than walking? It’s instinct I suppose but I’m glad you all made it. From what we see on Nat Geo, not everyone is so lucky.
    lizyoung recently posted..DEATHS HEAD MOTHMy Profile

    • 07/07/2012 at 10:02 am

      Funny, Liz. Yes, why is it we feel safer when we run? Do we think we are faster than the proverbial “speeding bullet?” My guess is it was dumb luck we didn’t get whacked.

      Hope you had a good time with your daughters. I’m about to head for the states to see my son and his family and then on to Oz to see my daughter and her kids. Love being a grandmother!

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