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Hurricane Sally Turned

I never wanted to ride out a hurricane, but that’s what happened Wednesday, September 16. A few days earlier when Husband and I drove to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Hurricane Sally’s predicted landfall was Louisiana, but she took advantage of a woman’s prerogative to change her mind and turned toward Florida.

            On Tuesday, I watched from our fourth-floor condo balcony as the ocean mimicked the clouds and became gray, blurring the horizon.  Powerful waves created tall water sprays.  White caps formed on distance water.  The branches of palm trees swayed.  I was awed by the power of nature.

            Husband, two friends, and I watched weather forecasts and we didn’t like what we saw.  As evening came, we moved the balcony furniture inside, located flashlights, candles and matches, and then we worked on a jigsaw puzzle, listened to 60’s music, and played cards until the wee hours of the morning.

            At 3:40 a.m. we four stood shoulder to shoulder in a small utility room after being notified of a tornado warning.  Electrical power was out so we held flashlights. We heard the wind howl and knew Sally could hit the coastline.  When the tornado warning ended, the logical thing to do was go to bed in bedrooms farthest from the sliding glass doors facing the ocean.

            6:30 a.m. The good news was that the palm trees were still swaying, not flat on the sand, and the boardwalk wasn’t damaged.  But where was Sally?  And how long would the electricity and internet be out?  We used our cell phones sparingly to avoid eating up data and draining the batteries.  My friend JoAnn, who I dubbed JoAnn the Jaunty Weather Girl, sent texts with TV pictures of weather maps showing Sally’s path and status, including her 105 mph wind speed, and the damages along the coastline. 

            We were relieved that the hurricane had travelled north of us and alarmed that there was destruction only fifteen miles west in Navarre.  Instead of coffee and a hot breakfast, we drank water and ate breakfast bars and fruit.  The refrigerator and freezer were stocked for the next five days, including fresh shrimp and chocolate ice cream. ‘Save the Shrimp’ was our goal so we opened the freezer and refrigerator once to put all the ice and the shrimp in a cooler, and the ice cream was the perfect consistency for milkshakes. 

            The ocean waves were even stronger, taller, wider than the day before. The water sprays higher. It was mesmerizing.  We had no TV, no internet, no electricity, no music.  But, thankfully, we had running water and were safe.  Taking advantage of daylight, we worked on the jigsaw puzzle and read.  When the electricity came on at 2:30, our afternoon naps were interrupted by lights we’d tried to turn on.             By Friday, internet was restored and the ocean was blue and calm.  We sat on the beach and counted blessings.  I’d never choose to be that close to a hurricane again, but I might drink a chocolate milkshake for a mid-morning snack – even if there’s no hurricane.