Monday, April 18, 2011

Tornadoes and Hurricanes

When Denny and I purchased a RV lot in Lillian, Alabama many years ago his father asked us why we would possibly want to own a lot where there was a possibility of hurricanes. This from a man who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio in the tornado alley. Denny explained to him that living in an area that might suffer through a hurricane was in a way safer than living in an area that suffered tornadoes because at least with hurricanes you have several days warning that it is or could be coming. Not so with tornadoes.

The RV lot has long been sold but I think our reasoning is still solid. The events of the past week show just how dangerous and unpredictable tornadoes can be. To this day, the memory of the Xenia, Ohio tornado of April, 1974 is still strong in Denny's mind from having to assist as a police officer to that jurisdiction after that horrible storm. And now that the two of us are traveling in the tornado belt we keep the weather radio handy and make sure we know what county we are in to program the radio to the proper area. Then on bad weather days we simply set the radio to "alert tone" rather than on the constant weather feed so we are warned of any sudden weather alerts or warnings. We make sure we know which building in the campground is considered to be the safest/sturdiest and have Patches' carrier handy for loading her up and taking her with us. Many travelers even create a bag of important items to take with them if they need to evacuate their RV.

Hurricanes have their own memory for Denny and me. In the summer of 1999 we were exploring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada and then headed down into Maine from there. The two of us had plans to explore some of the east coast states and eventually meet up with my mother in Myrtle Beach in September for a month long stay. Brake problems in our motorhome changed some of our plans and we ended up in Massachusetts getting the brakes looked at since that was the closest Ford dealership that had a hoist strong enough to lift our 38 foot Bounder. This was back in the day where gas engines and Ford chassis were more common that diesel pushers. We rerouted ourselves towards Virginia Beach and that's when the chase began; we were in hurricane season and word was that Hurricane Denny (appropriate, no?) was headed our way. So we planned our sightseeing but kept the radio and TV tuned to weather reports. We dodged that bullet and were headed to our next campground near coastal North Carolina when news of Hurricane Floyd popped up. This was a big one and mandatory evacuations were ordered for the coastal areas of both Carolinas. I'll never forget driving south on Interstate 95 through Virginia and North Carolina and being the only vehicle heading southbound on the highway while the northbound lanes were bumper to bumper with cars, semis and RVs. After some discussion Denny and I decided that Raleigh would be inland enough for us to be safe, so we found a campground and settled in for the night. It was while watching the local news that evening that we discovered that a flash flood from the rain storms that accompanied Hurricane Floyd had crossed Interstate 95 that afternoon, stranding some truck drivers who had to be air lifted from their vehicles by helicopter. By figuring the timeline and our distance driven, Denny and I realized we had driven through that location just 15 minutes before the flash flood occurred. And yes, I realize we have some guardian angels watching over us. Later that night, safe from the hurricane, we shook in our motorhome as high winds (what they now call straight line winds) tore through area, dropping tree limbs on our roof, taking out the power and battering us with hail. We stayed in the area a couple of days and it was at this time AT&T first introduced a cell phone with "national coverage, no roaming and no long distance". Believe me, we lied about where we lived simply to be able to have access to this service plan. What we were traveling with at the time was a bag phone with expensive minutes and a roaming fee each day you made a call out of state from Ohio and a long distance call fee on top of that. Needless to say, all family members and friends were told to call us only in a dire emergency so having a phone where we could call out and receive calls no matter where we were was wonderful! This way we could let everyone know we were okay without it costing an arm and a leg, especially since hurricane season was not yet over and we were still heading toward Myrtle Beach. The evacuation order was lifted for both North and South Carolina so we turned the nose of Roo (the Bounder symbol or mascot is a yellow kangaroo) towards Pirateland.

Arriving safely in Myrtle Beach we spent some enjoyable time with Mom and some RVing friends we met through Mom when the news started warning of the next storm; Hurricane Irene. Seriously??? The governor of South Carolina ordered a voluntary evacuation and the campground started emptying out. Our friends asked if we were going and we told them we were going to stay; by carefully monitoring the path of the hurricane we saw that we would be caught by the back edge of the storm and felt there would be only the winds and rain to sit through. And so it was. We have a photo (which I can't access) of the group of us standing out on the beach, drinks in hand (naturally) during a lull in the passage of the hurricane. Yeah, no one ever accused us of being the brightest bulbs in the lamp. We did that several times during the day until at last all threats of the hurricane were past. I think we were the only four rigs left in the campground of 900+ sites, plus Mom in her park model (anchored) trailer. That is a fun, fun memory for us. And yes, we're insane. But due to the nature of that time, I guess we were feeling pretty invincible. For whatever reason, we're still here and a little more cautious now.

Thus we travel into the path; we have people to see, places to go. And we're invincible, don'cha know?

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SkippyMom said...

On the day that Squirrel was born our local small town paper had the headline "Hurricane Squirrel screams into Virginia" - I thought that was pretty appropriate considering she came into this world pretty Darn Loud! I still have that headline. :)

I love that you stayed in SC for the hurricane, especially considering how close to the water you were and what you were living in. But, um, yeah, would've done the same thing [if we didn't have kids with us]. We have been through hurricanes before and haven't evacuated. But I have to agree a hurricane is easier to plan for than a tornado. There is nothing you can do there.


And Ask Denny Where the Heck My Pie Is!

Chrysalis said...

Hi, I found you from Living in Muddy Waters. I haven't read through your whole blog yet, so if this in answered in here, I apologize, but are you from Kettering, OH?

RV Vagabonds said...

Hi Chrysalis--yes, I'm from Kettering, Ohio. Grew up there, worked there until we hit the road in 1998. You?

Linda in New Mexico said...

There's crazy and then there is lucky and crazy....I think you and the Denster are the later.
We've been chased and outrun tornadoes a couple of times in Colorado and one time in Arkansas. That's adrenaline producing stuff but a hurricane? Wow, you're a better man than me gungadin. We moved back here from San Francisco because of earthquakes too. I'm a chicken when it comes to Mother Nature and her wrath. That broad ain't foolin around. TOB, Linda the Other
vert word: gusne.Some times you just need to know when you gusne to run hell.

Chrysalis said...

I live in Kettering now, and have for about 15 years! LIMW is one of my "real Life" old friends! What a small world!

RV Vagabonds said...

Chrysalis, yes, one thing we have discovered in our travels and over the 'net is just how small our world is. I still have family in Kettering and of course we stop to visit our former co-workers, a group of whom gather at Meijers for coffee every morning. I call it "the Liar's Table".

Chrysalis said...

LOL! I shop at the Meijers in Kettering every week! I used to work at the Bob Evans right across from Delco Park. Did you ever stop in tehre? Maybe I waited on you!
Such a small world!

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