Thursday, August 16, 2007

I am really, really scared

Most tropical storms go north of Dominica. We like that about living here. We are much less vulnerable to frequent pounding here than the Greater Antilles or the US coast. But it does happen, and now is one of those times. Hurricane Dean is coming to call tomorrow.

Ok, I admit it. I am frightened by the storm coming. I remember too clearly being huddled under a mattress in Corpus Christi during hurricane Celia thinking I was going to die at any moment as the glass from the windows whizzed by. I know we will be ok. I know if we experience losses it will just be our stuff is damaged. But knowing that doesn't change the visceral reaction I have every time I look at the map of Dean heading for us. I guess having gone through a bad blow makes you react differently.

We keep watching the maps, hoping Dean will take a sharp turn north and head away from the islands, but that does not even seem to be a possibility. The Wiz is doing everything he can to reassure me, but I am pretty stuck in this vat of fear. Such an ugly feeling, one of my least favorite.

We are doing everything possible to prepare. Storing food and water, boarding up the windows, securing the gas cylinders. This does not reassure me at all. I know that I am going to have to sit through hours of howling hurricane winds tomorrow, and the thought brings tears to my eyes. I feel like a small child abandoned and unprotected at the thought of this storm.

The good news is we may only see a Cat 1, if current projections are correct. But I am not sure whether the roof on this rental will go through even a category one hurricane.

We cannot really leave the island because of Chester and looting. I could not go off and leave Chester, and after a storm one needs to be present to discourage the "help your self" folks. This is a sad fact following storms everywhere.

Chester, the wonder pug, senses something. He never leaves my side. If he can't see me he starts looking for me, panicked. I have some doggie downers somewhere left from when we flew him to the island, I may give him some for the storm. I wonder if doggie downers work for people? hmm.

It reminds me of the early Carib's ability to predict a hurricane coming. You can read about it in Warnings of Hurricanes and Volcanoes.

livingdominica: please send all your spare courage to me. I will post whenever I can.


Tom said...

If you have any tall plants in pots, just lay them over, they'll be fine.
You might lose power. In fact count on it. The worst thing for me the first time we had a storm was no electric coffee maker. I now have a kettle and a Melitta coffee pot.
You can weather a lot if you have your morning coffee!
I am now psychokinetically beaming a force field over you, Wiz and Chester.You should feel it's benefits in about 37 seconds.

Jess said...

I am also sending best wishes and courage your way and hope the storm will pass by quickly and with little damage.

Tommi said...

Jen, I hear you about "knowing" you'll be all right and feeling that way being two different things, but you really will be all right. That ominous feeling is probably what's at the root of the tradition of hurricane parties. Maybe you could think about finding some friends who would also like some diversion once you are all prepared, and can weather the storm together with some games and other things? I live on the TX gulf coast and we're already worried about Dean coming here, too! I'm sending best wishes for the unpleasant feelings you're having to blow on out of there ahead of the storm!

Jen said...

Thank you for all of the support and concern! I really get a lot of comfort from you guys.

A couple of folks who found us through the book are here on vacation and they will be joining us for the storm. So a party is afoot! Our friends on the island kinda wants to stay with their "stuff" and their animals, I'm afraid.

This is my first hurricane since that awful Celia experience. I think once I go through one safely I will be less anxious in subsequent blows. This has just stirred up all my post traumatic stress from Celia.

Lynn said...

Pugsley from Texas sends greetings to Chester...hang tough, dude, your human needs you!

Minerva said...

Let me try to provide a distraction. Remember Corpus Christi and Celia? I was living on the Padre Island (north) two years ago when the city ordered us to evacuate in anticipation of Rita (it was just after Katrina, so they tried to play it safe). I just came from a business trip with something like a dengue fever, so I went straight to bed, but before I did, I let my cat out on the terrace - he loved it there, living a door slightly open, so he could get back. Then I fell asleep and when I woke up I discovered - in short order - two things: the city ordered evacuation of the island by 2 pm the next day (after which time the bridge would be closed and deemed impassable) and behind my bad there was my not only my old, neutered tom cat, Rascal, but also a young strat female cat and four tiny kittens, no older than 2-3 days. Oh, brother! I admit, I am a cat mama, so I asked the pet sitter to feed her on my terrace when I was away, since I discovered that she came to eat Rascal's food (Rascal let her), but I did not noticed she was pregnant. What to do, what to do? My head was spinning, I had high fever and was shaking... and I was supposed to evacuate all those furry things having only one pet crate. I willed my brain to work at least a tiny bit ;-) and it obliged: made me get a cardboard box and poke breathing holes in it. Then my daughter called from Atlanta telling me to take family albums and all documents... and I failed to tell her about being sick and most likely unable to drive. I also kept mum about the kittens: she was too far away to help, so why stress her out?
The next morning the sun was bright, no cloud visible, only there was no beach: the waves came up to the dunes, less than 200 yards from my terrace. And when I got out of the house, to load the family albums and documents into my car I noticed the island was deserted. I managed to make two trips to the car... and fainted. So I crawled back to bed setting my alarm clock to less than 1 hour before the bridge was supposed to close... but when it woke me up, I heard a radio announcement that the evacuation order was lifted, since Rita turned towards Houston and Texas-Luisiana border.
Relieved that both the cats and I were dafe I fell asleep again and did not get up until late the next day, when the first evacuees - those, that were the least stranded (there was a complete chaos on all the roads) - started coming back, exhausted, ro undamaged homes.

David Salkin said...

Hang in there guys. We are pullng for you.

Here's hoping it go by quick and painless.

Saratica said...

Hurricanes got to be an everyday thing in Key West. The city called for mandatory evacuations (which forced the hospital and stores and bars, etc. to all close) so many times, it got to be a big yawn. The wind and the empty streets were pretty fun.

The morning after Dennis (a cat 2), the streets were a little flooded so the boys got towels and an old piece of shutter and water ski-ed down the street. That was fun!

I wrote about Dennis here:

If you have any protected area where a coconut or flying lawn chair can't get to you, it's fun to sit out and watch the wind whip trees around. The power is pretty amazing.

And, yes, the biggest drag is no coffee in the morning. In Wilma, our generator got flooded so there was no coffee for awhile...

I am sending good thoughts and will be thinking of you at 2am. When I am anxious about something (which is pretty much everything like my boys flying back alone to Costa Rica tonight), I try to think about how I'll feel in a few hours when it's all over. I'll be thinking: all that worry for nothing! Pura vida.

Editor B said...

We're pulling for you, and the whole island, here in New Orleans.

Canuck said...

I've been watching the movement of these storms with great interest and I keep praying they will be down graded or change course...unfortunately, I would imagine you're right in the middleof it.
Jen - I know you would like to hear a positive spin on all this, so let me be the one to tell you that the island of Dominica is receiving MUCH air time - just by being in the immediate path of the hurricane. Every news channel is tracking the weather and every one is mentioning Dominica.
I know this isn't exactly the news coverage you'd like, but a lot of people who wouldn't normally hear of the island will at least know where in the world you are!
Best wishes in this scary season.
Hopoe to hear from you soon.

Dr. Marion Carroll said...

Keep your head down...we're praying for you. Marion, from New Orleans

Jer said...

I came to your website to check on you! Just praying you'll be safe! I know you're scared. We just went through Tropical Storm Erin here in Houston. Let us know how you are when you've reached the other side.

My Chutney Garden said...

Hi Jen,
I just stumbled upon your blog. It is lovely. I am sending all my positive thoughts to you to help you get through Dean. We are so south in Trinidad that we are almost never hit,so I can't imagine how awful it must be. Hope it goes okay and Dean steers away from Dominica.

Anonymous said...

Jen.... oh my god i can just imagine how you are feeling.... i live in Guyana and we are not directly in the hurricane zones but in 2005 we had a massive flood so i can emphatise with the feelings of impending disaster. I am so worried for Dominica (my favourite Caribbean Island) i have often stayed at the Fort Young....i hope the island fears well... I would hate to know that the world would be robbed in anyway by the loss of Dominica's rustic beauty. Last night as Dean approached we experience sever Tunderstorms, this morning all every one could do was to talk about how scared we were and how much we are praying for all of you that are countries may be affected by this prayers are with you and god will see you and lovely Dominica thru this. Keep the faith

La Gringa said...

Jen, having never been through a hurricane yet, I don't have any words of wisdom, but the idea of games and guests sounds like a good one to take your mind off things as much as possible.

For as long as you have internet access, here is a site that seems to put all the information on one page:

We'll all be thinking of you.

Kia said...

Courage! You'll really be all right. Chester is nervous probably because you are, and maybe if you want to you can fix him up a nice little hidey-hole (a box on its side or something) that he can curl up in once you all get settled. Dogs feel safer sometimes in small cozy spaces when things get weird.

Some of your jitters may be due to that weird sort of electromagnetism or the changes in air pressure that accompany heavy tropical weather -- it makes me sort of cranky before thunderstorms.

Just don't forget to blog it, it will be wonderful to read.

Matildas fikarum said...

I'm sending my thoughts to you! I have a feeling you will be just fine, but I understand that it's scary.

Adam said...

I hope all went well, and look forward to seeing you soon!


Akinoluna said...

I know it wasn't supposed to be a funny post, but I giggled when you were pondering the effects of doggie downers on humans. :-)

TICA MACHA said...

I sure hope you and yours are making out o.k. through this. I've seen some photos on-line and it looks rough. Check in when you can to put our minds at ease. Teri

Megan said...

I will keep you in my prayers and I pray that there will be very little damage and everyone shall be safe.

Angela said...

I'm sure you came through it just fine and - without the help of those doggie pills...:-)