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As Bertha forms in the Caribbean, starting this years hurricane season early, boding ill for the summer to come, I reflect on this phenomena of nature we are so familiar with, yet who we as Americans give English names to.  Huracan, or hurricane as we now call these storms, is an ancient deity, born of the (Arawak) Taino goddess Guabancex.


Guabancex: The Hurricane Bringer

The people of the Ancient Antilles coined the very word "hurricane," from the Arawak word "huracan" for the ferocious storms that wrack the Caribbean at the tail end of every rainy season.  The natural harmony of Boinayel and Márohu that commences in May, and persists for almost half the year, is sometimes violently interrupted by the thunder and lightning of the angry goddess Guabancex. With her flanking forces, Guataubá who musters blustery winds and thunderous rainstorms and Coatrisquie who swells the rivers to flood, the hurricane goddess wreaks havoc on the Antilles. By August and September, the playful reciprocity between Boinayel and Márohu gives way to the mayhem of Guataubá and Coatrisquie, under the swirling arms of Guabancex.

I have only lived through one hurricane.  As a child of 10, my parents had moved us to Louisiana.  We were living in Baton Rouge on the campus of historically black Southern University.  Faculty housing consisted of reconverted (flimsy) army barracks, raised on posts with no basements.  We were only about a quarter of a mile from the Big Muddy - the Mississippi River.  

Hurricane Audrey was the first major hurricane of the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season. Audrey was the only storm to reach Category 4 status in June. A powerful hurricane, Audrey caused catastrophic damage across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. It then affected the South Central United States as a powerful extratropical storm. In its wake, Audrey left $1 billion (2005 USD) in damage and at least 419 fatalities. At the time period, the devastation from HurricanAudrey was the worst since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

We were not prepared for the ferocity of the storm that hit early that year, and as the waters from the Mississippi rose, up to the point where it reached the bottom of the house we feared we would be swept away.  My mother prayed as we watched in horror as the winds ripped off the roof of the house directly behind us, and our frail home shifted, creaked and groaned, rocking on the cement posts that were all that kept us above the swirling waters.  Snakes crawled up on the front porch, and animals could be seen struggling to stay alive and afloat.  

The eeary silence of the eye was soon followed by the howling of winds as the storm passed overhead, and though Baton Rouge was spared most of the damage, the town of Lake Charles was virtually wiped off the map.

In an era predating Doppler radar, weather satellites and Jim Cantore, approaching hurricanes did not attract the kind of attention that modern-day residents of the Gulf South take for granted. Lake Charles' lone television station had begun broadcasting three years earlier, and radio stations from throughout the region could reach Cameron listeners back then, but it's hard to know the extent to which Cameron Parish residents were warned of the approaching hurricane and just how powerful it was.

According to local lore, many residents thought they had more time to seek shelter or higher ground but were caught by surprise when the hurricane strengthened and sped up overnight as it approached the Louisiana coast.

Furthermore, this was a rare June storm in an area that had not experienced a serious hurricane for many years. Even if the appropriate warnings were communicated, many people probably just didn't take them seriously.

Audrey turned out to be the only Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States in June. While it also flooded lower Vermilion Parish to the east and took sustained winds above 100 mph into Calcasieu Parish to the north, Audrey did its worst in Cameron, where some accounts had 20-foot waves riding the 12-foot storm surge at the coast, topped by winds as strong as 150 mph.

The official death toll was placed at 390, but that's widely acknowledged as a low-ball figure; there were individuals or entire families whose bodies were never recovered from the area's wetlands. A variety of state, federal and local sources have estimated the fatality total between 400 and 600.

All in all, it was, for Cameron Parish, exactly the wrong hurricane, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

I thought of Audrey today as the news spoke of Bertha.  Curious, I did a search to see if the actual history matched my childhood memories of fear of the raging gods that could tear our life apart and reduce my strong atheist father to a person who fell to his knees in foxhole prayer.  

She is rarely mentioned these days, when we talk of the more familiar Katrina.  Her name will never again invoke the power of nature.

The name Audrey was soon retired and will never be used again to name a hurricane.[4] Because of this, it was the first and only use of the name Audrey for the Atlantic Basin.[5] Hurricane Audrey left $1 billion (2005 USD, $147 million in 1957 USD[6]) in damage and at least 419 fatalities, most in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Audrey is ranked as the sixth deadliest hurricane to hit the United States mainland since accurate record-keeping began in 1900. No future hurricane caused as many fatalities in the United States until Katrina in 2005.

Those people who live in the Caribbean hurricane belt know the fear, awe
and dread each season.  Their traces of Taino and Carib blood call to the storm and prayers are offered up to turn the winds from its path.  

One of my students remarked that here in the States we rarely read news of the Caribbean, other than as a place hurricanes are passing over on the way towards Florida or the Gulf Coast, but most islanders mark life's events in relationship to these times of devastation.

The earliest Caribbean storm of record took place during the American revolution.

The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as the Hurricane San Calixto II, is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Over 27,500 people died when the storm passed through the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean between October 10 and October 16.[2] Specifics on the hurricane's track and strength are unknown since the official Atlantic hurricane database only goes back to 1851.[3]

The hurricane struck Barbados with winds possibly exceeding 200 mph (320 km/h), before moving past Martinique, Saint Lucia, and Sint Eustatius; thousands of deaths were reported on each island. Coming in the midst of the American Revolution, the storm caused heavy losses to British and French fleets contesting for control of the area. The hurricane later passed near Puerto Rico and over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic, which at the time was known as Santo Domingo. There, it caused heavy damage near the coastlines; it ultimately turned to the northeast before being last observed on October 20 southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

The death toll from the Great Hurricane alone exceeds that of any other entire decade of Atlantic hurricanes, and is substantially higher than that of the second-deadliest Atlantic storm, Hurricane Mitch.

Mitch, a name which seems more appropriate for a sing-along tv show affected not only the Caribbean islands but destroyed many areas of the Central American mainland.

Hurricane Mitch was one of the deadliest and most powerful hurricanes on record in the Atlantic basin, with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph (290 km/h). The storm was the thirteenth tropical storm, ninth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. At the time, Hurricane Mitch was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever observed in the month of October, though it has since been surpassed by Hurricane Wilma of the 2005 season. The hurricane also tied for the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, but it has since dropped to seventh.

Mitch formed in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, and after drifting through extremely favorable conditions, it rapidly strengthened to peak at Category 5 status, the highest possible rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After drifting southwestward and weakening, the hurricane hit Honduras as a minimal hurricane. It drifted through Central America, reformed in the Bay of Campeche, and ultimately struck Florida as a strong tropical storm.

Due to its slow motion from October 29 to November 3, Hurricane Mitch dropped historic amounts of rainfall in Honduras and Nicaragua, with unofficial reports of up to 75 inches (1900 mm). Deaths due to catastrophic flooding made it the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history; nearly 11,000 people were killed with over 8,000 left missing by the end of 1998. The flooding caused extreme damage, estimated at over $5 billion (1998 USD, $6 billion 2006 USD).

I have friends who still speak of Georges which affected Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Let us offer prayers to the goddess to spare those in her path this year, and remember those who served as sacrifices to her fury.  Let us also think ahead to the politics of emergency preparedness, and here's hoping that the duly appointed inept demi-gods of FEMA will no longer hold sway in our future administration.  

What hurricanes do you remember?  Which have you lived through?
Please share your stories.

Originally posted to Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 05:03 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting, but fix the title. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Thanks for a terrific (8+ / 0-)

    and informative diary.  I'm from Baltimore and ended up in New England for the past 40 years, thus have not experienced a real full bore hurricane.  We've had a couple which caused some flooding and wind damage, but nothing comparable to the Carribean and southern states.  Actually, here in CT, we get more damage from our plain old thunderstorms and occasional mini-tornadoes.

    It is disturbing that the season has started early -- tropical storm Arthur (sp?) that hit the Yuccatan peninsula, developed just before the season.  

    My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. Barbara Jordan 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 05:21:07 AM PDT

  •  Bertha has set a record: (7+ / 0-)

    The hurricane season of 2008 sets a new record
    Today's formation of Bertha at 25° West longitude is the farthest east a tropical storm has ever formed in the Atlantic so early in the season. It is also the farthest east a tropical storm has formed in the month of July. Reliable records of Eastern Atlantic storms go back to 1967, the beginning of the geostationary satellite era.

    As for personal experience, Hugo, Charlotte NC 1989. Days and days days without electricity. No water, then boiling water. I'm terrified of wind too. I'm better now than I used to be though. I used to crouch underneath coffee tables at the slightest breeze when I was kid and I admit to an almost unnatural obsession with hurricanes.

  •  Great diary (6+ / 0-)

    I love that you share your personal experiences and do it so well.

    What hurricanes have I been through?  The first was when I was 8 or 9 and a storm whose name I don't remember rumbled up the Hudson Valley of New York with devastating consequences.

    The next was Agnes, which I rode out alone in a mobile home with my newborn son in my arms.  Just before that I had lived in Biloxi, where the high water marks of Camille were still visible on the walls of my apartment.

    After that... well the recent ones:  Dennis, Charlie, Jeanne, Frances, Ivan.  A couple have passed directly over our house.  Maybe because I live in the state of hurricane fear, I pay attention to the Islands and the coasts of Central America.  Or maybe because I have travelled there and seen the damage even a tropical storm can do.

    And all the signs indicate this is going to be a bad year.  I add my prayers to yours.

    "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

    by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 05:57:37 AM PDT

    •  I too am in the Hudson Valley (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trashablanca, winterbanyan

      and have felt safe here from most major storms - though  we do get hit by Nor'easters.

      I can't imagine riding out a storm in a mobile home -- and blessings that you and newborn survived it - that had to be terrifying.

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:04:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lovely place to live :) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, kafkananda, Deoliver47

        I loved my time in the Hudson Valley.  Not only was it beautiful, but there was an aura of timeless magic to the place.

        It was terrifying to ride out Agnes that way, but we were in the Air Force at the time, and they didn't think Agnes merited an evacuation.  So I sat there while my husband was on duty, holding the baby and feeling the trailer lift and drop, lift and drop. As it turned out, the Northeast actually suffered a whole lot more from that particular storm.

        Now I live in Florida permanently.  Hence the long list of hurricanes.  I'd love to move back to the Hudson Valley, but I imagine it's not at all the way I remember it anymore, partly because I was a kid then, and partly because everything changes.

        And of course, like most folks, I can't just pack up and move because I'd like to!

        "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

        by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:10:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is still lovely here (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trashablanca, winterbanyan

          but I am biased.  Though some of the old dairy farms have disappeared, we still have lots of open space, mountain views and meandering streams.  The Hudson river is cleaner these days - thanks to the efforts of Pete Seeger and the sloop Clearwater.

          My sister talks of moving to Florida, and I worry about her safety since Florida seems to bear the brunt of US hurricanes.  I admire the courage of you folks down there.  

          Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:19:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Some places are safer (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trashablanca, mango, Deoliver47

            If your sister is free to choose her location, she might want to consider Jacksonville or Tampa.  Both areas have fewer direct hits from hurricanes than other places in the state.

            A big problem is evacuation, though.  So whatever place she picks, it ought to be one that isn't in an evacuation area.  These places suffer less from flooding, and in most cases storms weaken by the time they get that far inland.

            Alternatively, pick a place you can get out of fast.

            My partner and I went to Key West for a job interview.  The drive along US 1 convinced us that would be a foolhardy place to live.  Trying to get out of there with an approaching hurricane would test my nerves to the max.  In most places it's a two lane road, one lane each way.  And when they reverse it for evacuation, you still have only two lanes with a number of narrow bridges, and I've seen a single breakdown block traffic for hours. Plus, at only a couple of feet above sea level, the storm surge will wash over most of the land.

            So, much as I'd love to live in the Keys, no thanks.

            "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

            by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:37:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks - will pass that on to her (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              trashablanca, winterbanyan

              but think she has her heart set on the Miami area (sigh).

              She is a beach fanatic, and has a mother-in law in the Coral Gables area.  

              I have only been to the Keys once - I can see what you mean - nice place to visit - but wouldn't want to have to get out quickly!

              Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

              by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:48:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ach! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                trashablanca, Deoliver47

                Oh, boy.  Can you hogtie her and wrestle her to the floor? :D

                There's roulette, and then there's Russian roulette.

                Good luck to you and your sister... and again, thanks for so many illuminating diaries.  Every morning I look to see if you've written another.

                "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

                by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:56:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I meant to add (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trashablanca, Deoliver47

            that I'm glad to know the Valley is still beautiful.  Thanks for letting me know.  Maybe I'll get back someday, if only to visit.

            But for now I have only to close my eyes and remember those lovely hikes through the Catskills on crisp autumn days.  Lord, how I miss that!

            "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

            by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:45:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting note about Agnes. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trashablanca, Deoliver47

          I was living in New Jersey at the time.  Agnes went over our heads to impact the Poconos and NE Pennsy big time.  A little after that there was an article in the small local muckraking Free Press newspaper out of Oxford NJ, of all places (iirc), about how Agnes had been seeded.  At that time (early 70's), there was a lot of interest in weather modification. Needless to say, this story didn't make it widely in the MSM.  The printing offices were burned down sometime later,  although there were many other possible villains to lay claim to the arson.  Oxford was a hotbed for klan activities in New Jersey.

          Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world. Not McCain

          by kafkananda on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:18:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Saw a program on seeding (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trashablanca, Deoliver47

            just recently.  Evidently there were a lot of attempts back then, and some evidence they may be continuing.

            However, Agnes actually followed a time-honored path after she crossed northern Florida.  A surprising number of hurricanes do race right up the coast, a fact which is often overlooked.  If Charleston weren't sticking out there like a speedbump, more of these storms would trample the Northeast.

            The "perfect storm" after all, involved Hurrican Grace doing exactly that, and as other stories here record, the Northeast has never been totally safe from these storms.

            "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

            by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:50:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  From what I remember, the issue was.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...that the seeding was designed to lower the intensity of the storm,  which it did.  The problem was that the storm stalled over NE Pennsy with close to a half years worth of rain in 24 hours.  Driving along I-80 later,  the deep gullies visible in the fields were awesome.

              Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world. Not McCain

              by kafkananda on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 05:08:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Tropical Storms and cat 1s can be dangerous. (4+ / 0-)

      Or maybe because I have travelled there and seen the damage even a tropical storm can do.

      Katrina was a tropical storm/cat 1 and caused deaths in Florida before gaining strength in the gulf. I remember when it first formed and it was headed to Florida, I didn't think much about it being a cat 1, but it goes to show you, mother nature is never to be taken lightly. Those deaths should have been an ominous sign that this was going to be a monster.

      •  Good point (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, mango, DJShay, winterbanyan

        We tend to think that only those storms designated as "hurricanes" do terrible damage.  

        Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:32:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The hope was that Katrina (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca, DJShay, Deoliver47

        would die as she crossed the state, and or fade as she hit the Florida escarpment where the water is so shallow.

        It was when the storm hit the deep "warm spot" in the Gulf that she really gained strength.  It turned into the worst of all possible scenarios.

        I agree, most forget Katrina passed here first.  But what she did here was nothing in comparison to what she did later.  And I fear, sadly, that if all storms are going to be compared to Katrina we'll keep overlooking the others, which do horrendous damage.

        No tropical storm should ever be taken lightly.

        "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

        by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 06:44:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for mentioning Taino (4+ / 0-)

    My grandmother was Taino from Puerto Rico and I have not learned much about my heritage in that area (each of my grandparents come from different stock...) I learned a little from your diary.

  •  Hurricane Carol (3+ / 0-)

    In 1954, Hurricane Carol churned up the Eastern Seaboard, leaving devastation in its wake, and made its last landfall in Connecticut as a Category 2.  Although it inevitably weakened over land, dying at last over southern Quebec, still the damage it did to New England was enormous.

    I was five years old then, living in a suburb north of Boston, and have jumbled memories of stunning ferocity raging outside our home; of downed trees and power lines scattered in pick-up-stick piles about our neighborhood when at last it was over; of knowing, even so young, how gnawed by worry my mother was for days afterwards, because my father, a telephone lineman, was out there working incredible hours amid wicked tangles of still-live wires to restore the lines.

    Brought to you as a public service by EddyTeddyFreddy Industries, Inc., purveyors of wit, wisdom, badinage, and run-on sentences since 1949.

    by ETF on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:12:47 AM PDT

  •  When I shook my fists and cursed at Huracan (4+ / 0-)

    I realized the American dream, in late August of 1999. A beautiful salt box colonial in the burbs and yes it was all MINE!

    And so, the first visitor from Mother Nature, was to  show me what it meant to own a plot of land. Floyd made landfall in New Jersey on September 16, 1999. Ah we prepared, batten down the hatches, buy lots of water and batteries. LOL.

    As the winds picked up and the rains began, Crate & Barrel delivered the new comfy chair and the lawn furniture was delivered as well.

    Along with the new furnishing, came a special treat. As the rain began to come down in buckets, we were treated to glorious waterfalls that took up residence in four of my windows. The rubber made bins that I stuck in the window were filling faster than I could empty them.

    It was then that I shook my metaphorical fists at the sky and cursed. Futile, but rewarding. I have since learned not to curse at the gods, but better to employ a handyman to fix the problem.

    Palante, palante, junto nos vamos palante

    by jerseyRican on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:18:31 AM PDT

    •  Reminds me of a waterfall (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I saw pass through my duplex in base housing back in '79.  It was NoDak, so no hurricane, just a bad thunderstorm with tornadoes.  So of course we went to the basement.

      But then the water started pouring down through the basement ceiling, so I went to look.  The rain was driving through closed windows on the north side of the house, being pushed hard enough to come under the windows in sheets... and poured down from the second floor, to the first, to the basement.

      Gave me a great appreciation of how powerful the wind was as that tornado passed nearby.

      "It's what you think you know that just ain't so that will get you into trouble." --Will Rogers

      by winterbanyan on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:34:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  JerseyRican (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winterbanyan, jerseyRican

      you better be careful cursing those Taino Gods ;)

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:35:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I ended getting caught in Gloria (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, Deoliver47

    back in 1985, while serving as a member of Uncle Sugar's Canoe Club...

    Sitting at the Norfolk Naval shipyard, tied to the pier next to the USS John F. Kenneady.  It's the most helpless feeling in the world.

    You'd be amazed at how fast the Elizabeth River can rise when affected by storm surge... (never hit the coast, but still made a hell of a mess...)

    "What, then, is the legacy of the Royal Navy? I shall tell you. Rum, Buggery, and the lash! Good Day, Sirs." - Sir Winston Churchill

    by Dingodude on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:21:01 AM PDT

  •  Your story immediately brought to mind my first (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, Deoliver47, ETF

    experience of the incredible power of the huricane. In, of all unlikely places, the Bronx.

    In 1955 I was a nine year old growing up in a project in the Bronx when Diane, or what was left of her, arrived in the New York City area. I lived on the fourth floor, and clearly remember watching Diane's fury safe behind bricks, glass, and steel. Across the street there was a tree whose top was about level with my bedroom window. To my amazement I watched the force of the wind bend this mighty tree over in half, so that its top literally touched the ground.

    I've yet to decide which marvel of Nature impressed me more, the sheer force that could bend that tree in half, or the tree, which straightened up and continued its life apparently unharmed.

    During military service I was stationed on the eastern shore of North Carolina, and became quite familiar with hurricanes in their full glory, and even spent a few seasons in Puerto Rico at the base the "hurricane hunter" weather aircraft flew from.

    But nothing compares with my nine year old wide amazement at seeing that first one, Diane.

    All the world over I will back the masses against the classes. Gladstone

    by DaNang65 on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:21:28 AM PDT

  •  We are in the midst (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, winterbanyan, Deoliver47

    of a tropical depression.  E5 I believe.  I have water past my ankles now outside.  Lots of rain but not too much wind.  I read it is about 120 miles south of us here on the coast of Mexico.
    This is scary since I am very ill with Dengue and I have pets.  The chickens are taking to shelves in the shed.  I have moved things upstairs and hope to god we don't flood like we did in September.
    Our village is like a bowl and when the canal fills up the water comes right into the center of town where I live.  I had four and a half feet of water inside my house then and right now it is safe to say I am terrified.

    Another Proud Subscriber to the Mariachi Mama Bickering Moratorium!

    by mango on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 07:56:08 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary and sharing of stories. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have only been on the edge of hurricanes, and worried about friends in them.  And of course, like everyone, I remember Katrina.

    I had heard of Huracan before, though. I was spending a weekend meditation retreat with friends in New York state a few years ago, when there was a hurricane coming up the coast of the US.  What we experienced in New York was really strong winds, fierce rain, and then the exhillarating weather that often comes after the remnants of the hurricane pass:  a cool, fresh day, stirring breezes, incredibly blue sky swirled with white clouds, bright sun, the air seeming cleaner, energizing, renewed.  Before breakfast, someone was singing:

    Morning has broken
    Like the first morning.
    Blackbird has spoken
    Like the first bird...

    We ended up talking about the hurricane off and on through the weekend. Some people there had been in hurricanes, so there were memories of fear and loss and deadly danger. Someone who had lived in the Caribbean knew the name Huracan. He said  Huracan was a renewer as well as destroyer. Someone explained that hurricanes are major weather engines for the whole eastern half of the North American continent, setting in motion huge weather patterns that reach far beyond the hurricane itself, and last longer. In El Nino years, when hurricanes are few and weak, there will be drought in the North East and up into Canada. When our fields and gardens thrive and our reservoirs are full, the hurricane winds have blown far to the south.

    We ended up talking late into one night about personal experiences of destruction and renewal.  One person talked about rebuilding a life after a home utterly destroyed by a hurricane (and a slice of his professional life with it); another talked about rebuilding after a home destroyed by fire; another after a marriage gone very bad.  These were all situations where the person walked away with nothing and started over, becoming in some ways a new person.

    I am not at all meaning to gloss over the straightforward deadly violence of hurricanes.  But I came away from that weekend with an enduring sense of how intricately creation and destruction are entwined in the forces of nature, which we cannot fully control and must learn to live respectfully with.

    Vote John McCain for a Hundred Year War!

    by Fiona West on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 08:26:56 AM PDT

    •  I really like the Guabancex image you shared. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The curve of the arms is remarkably evocative of the swirling winds.

      Where is it from?

      I’m not sure I understand what you said about her, though.  Were Guabancex and Huracan both deities of the hurricanes?  Or was she more of a general storm-goddess and Hurucan, her offspring, was specificially identified with hurricanes?  

      Vote John McCain for a Hundred Year War!

      by Fiona West on Mon Jul 07, 2008 at 08:40:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some Hurricanes in Nicaragua (0+ / 0-)

    Hurricane Mitch affected Nicaragua form for a period of ten days, with torrential rains that produced landslides and floods...

    The effects of the hurricane will have a negative impact on the fragile Nicaraguan economy...

    What economy?  Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti.

    Hurricane Beta belts Nicaragua

    Beta largely wiped out the town of Sandy Bay as it made landfall. Local reports said the town's population of 3000 had mostly fled in advance. Wooden huts constitute most of the housing in Sandy Bay, and about 80 percent of it was rendered unlivable

    Fortunately it was mostly just Indians who were belted.

    From wikipedia:
    Nicaraguan officials said that if the hurricane had hit larger coastal cities such as Puerto Cabezas or Bluefields as was first predicted it would have been a disaster.

    Beta did good for some:

    Businesses raised food prices

    I will probably never get to experience the joy of visiting the boiling sulfurous mud pits near San Jacinto despite a prized invitation.  I told my wife there was no real danger since tourist guides advise hiring little kids to lead you.  The kids will fall in first.  Unfortunately I showed her a description of an airport restroom that terrified her more than the machete-wielding street gangs looking for gringos.  ("The lights didn't work.  The toilet was busted.  There was a lot of sticky stuff around in the dark.  The toilet paper was kept behind the ticket counter. The odor...")


    Always miss all the action.  If she had visited the john in a flea market at Reninger's in Pennsylvania, Nicaragua would have held no terror.

    BTW everybody tells me that Nicaragua is an unspoiled paradise for tourists.

    Best,  Terry

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