When you’ve been with someone for nearly a decade, it’s rare to find out something new about that person. You’ve heard most of each other’s stories. You can finish each other’s sentences. You can communicate by just looking at each other in some cases.
But every now and again, something you’ve never seen before emerges from that person. And that something emerged from my husband as Hurricane Nate came “barreling” toward our neck of the Gulf Coast last weekend. My sweet, amazing husband is a hurricane junkie. A total weather nerd.
I did not realize this because the last storm where “hunkering” and “battening” was required around here was Katrina — several years before we met. The last time I was gathering batteries and bottled water my life was a whole lot different.
During Ivan, I went to my mom’s house and stayed with her and a bunch of my extended family. Lots of family in a confined indoor space can make for an “interesting” night. Let’s just say, my uncle and I were out the door about a second after the last rain band moved through so we could “assess the damage.”
I rode out Katrina in midtown with one of my best friends and my dog, Bella. We made margaritas and when I let Bella outside to use the bathroom she ran off, so we spent a good amount of time out and about in the storm getting her back in, which was probably frowned upon by the folks on TV who were out in the weather saying, “don’t get out in the weather.” But no injuries were sustained, so all was good.
Obviously, we all know what Ivan did to our friends just east of us when he made his famous “jog” and the absolute devastation Katrina caused to the west. Mobile was largely spared in both of those storms.
Little did we know it would be over a decade before we had to prepare for another possible direct hit, though one that would pack a much smaller punch than those major storms.
If you had told me as I was out chasing Bella during Katrina that during the next storm I would be married and chasing around my almost 6- and 8-year-old kids, I would have said you had had too many margaritas.
But a lot happens in 12-plus years, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. It’s just kind of strange how our lives on the Gulf Coast have these tropical bookends.
I will now always remember just how much energy my husband put into our Nate preparations. On Thursday morning, I got a text that read, “Batteries, check. Candles, check. Lighters, check. Bug Spray, check.” On Friday morning I received, “Propane, check,” followed by “Make sure to fill up with gas today.”
For a Category One, Frank? Really?
“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said. I teased him that I thought his best was that we would get the worst.
But I’m not going to act all like Mrs. Too Cool for School, I was secretly excited too. Well, I don’t know if excited is the right word, but there is a nervous energy you get when preparing for a hurricane — some sort of primal need to protect one’s space and young. And too, we knew this one wasn’t going to be all that bad. Or was it? After all, Cantore was in Orange Beach (insert chilling horror film music).
Also, while we are on Cantore, is he beefier than he used to be or has he always looked like he works for the WWE when not working for TWC?
Anyway, we were up at 6 a.m. on Saturday. I walked around the yard and secured everything that might possibly fly through the air and crash through windows and kill us — you know, soccer balls and Nerf guns. Frank went and borrowed a generator from his parents who were out of town and filled up four coolers full of ice (just in case). Of course we got other provisions — Chunky Chicken Soup, bread, chips, water, instant coffee and plenty of beer and wine (just in case.)
Then we waited, and, in the immortal words of the late, great Tom Petty, that is “the hardest part.” Flipping back and forth between The Weather Channel, Alan Sealls, Jason Smith, Chris Dunne and SEC football had my poor thumb plumb tuckered out. Frank took a nap so he would be fresh for the midnight or so landfall and formulated backup plans involving ESPN apps and 92ZEW in case the power went out during the Alabama game. It did not. #priorities
I fell asleep some time around the third or fourth quarter of that game, but Frank woke me up for the main event. I am referring to the hurricane, not the Tide. We got the 8-year-old up some time after midnight and made him look out the window so he would have a memory of his first hurricane (but he has no recollection of us doing that).
A little wind. A little rain. It was pretty anti-climatic to say the least. Thank goodness.
Though Nate damaged numerous piers and wharfs and caused quite a bit of damage to Dauphin Island, it could have been much, much worse. Thankfully, no lives were lost. Once again we were lucky.
As I packed up all of the candles that were never burned and large flashlight batteries still wrapped in plastic, I wondered how long it would be before we would be pulling these out again. Will it be next season or another 12 years? Would the kids be home with us or off at college? Would we be as lucky again? Or would it finally be our turn to get a direct hit?
There is no way to tell, as Mother Nature has a mind of her own. I guess really all we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.