Saturday, November 9, 2013

Storm Stories

This picture was taken of one of the trees that fell in Woodley Hills during hurricane Hazel.

It happened on Friday, October 15, 1954.  I was eleven years old and living in Woodley Hills Trailer Park in Alexandria, Virginia.   My older brother was 13; my little sister was 7, and my next to the youngest brother was 2.  My youngest brother wouldn’t be born until June of 1956. 

That day has been completely blanked out of my memory.  I don’t remember anybody panicking or being scared, angry, or worried.  I don’t remember a thing.  Either the event was so traumatic that I’ve blocked it out, or it was no big deal, and that’s why I don’t remember it. 

Anyway, my dad, a meteorologist who worked at the National Analysis Center in Suitland, MD, had driven our car to work that day.  Mom was busy watching all of the neighbors evacuate because of the hurricane expected to make landfall that day.  I don’t have a clue as to why we didn’t evacuate as we lived in a 32’ trailer.  Most people in trailers need to find a solid building or shelter, I understand, if a hurricane is expected.  But the forecast had been that the storm was to slow down from a cat 5 to a cat 4 when it made landfall in the Carolinas.  Maybe that is why we didn’t leave.

But looking back at what Hazel did maybe we should have evacuated.    The write up in Wikipedia reports this, “Hurricane Hazel was the deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm killed as many as 1,000 people in Haiti before striking the United States near the border between North and South Carolina, as a Category 4 hurricane. After causing 95 fatalities in the US, Hazel struck Canada as an extra tropical storm, raising the death toll by 81 people, mostly in Toronto. As a result of the high death toll and the damage Hazel caused, its name was retired from use for North Atlantic hurricanes.
From Carolina, it traveled north along the Atlantic coast. Hazel affected Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York; it brought gusts near 160 km/h (100 mph) and caused $308 million (1954 USD) in damage. When it was over Pennsylvania, Hazel consolidated with a cold front, and turned northwest towards Canada. When it hit Ontario as an extra tropical storm, rivers and streams in and around Toronto, Ontario overflowed their banks, which caused severe flooding.”

I believe that the Lord protected us that day.  Our neighbors, the Taylors, remained behind in their trailer, and during the eye, a pause in the storm, (hurricanes are in the shape of a doughnut with the middle a hole, which they call the eye,) Mr. Taylor walked all around our trailers looking at the huge trees to see if any were in danger of falling. 

The next day we learned that one trailer and car a few streets over from us, had been crushed by a huge tree falling on them.  Maybe our lives were in danger that day but we came through just fine.

In my study of “End Times” I think that the catastrophic thing we will experience is an earthquake.  In Matthew 24 it says 21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” So apparently life will be lost but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.  If it happens in my lifetime I wonder if I will block out the whole thing?!

Where were you during Hurricane Hazel?

PS I was saddened to hear that Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines at an estimated 195 MPH with up to 235 MPH wind gusts.  Here is a photo of some of the damage.  We were blessed in Virginia not to suffer such destruction or loss of life.

1 comment:

  1. Here are the memories of a few Groveton classmates:

    I barely remember Hazel because I was only six. What I remember is playing in the front yard
    in the driving rain. We didn't live in Bucknell; we lived in Groveton on Swain Drive just off Rt. 1.
    Next to the road was a ditch and the water was rising fast washing over the crawdad holes.
    Weeping willow trees lined the road and the branches were flapping in the stiff wind like flags.
    I didn't learn about the devastation of people and property until years later so it was just a
    neat event to a six year old child. Frank

    i remember hazel - mostly because the eye came right over us and we went outside into the front yard when it did - and saw the blue sky.

    i also remember that we cooked over the fireplace for several days which was a lot more fun for us kids than it was for mom...

    I actually do remember Hazel, or rather, its aftermath with all the many, many downed trees, even though I was all of six at the time. Many thanks for placing it in time though, and more perspective. I hadn't recalled or ever known all that. Norman

    I remember sitting on the steps at our house in Jefferson Manor early in the day. I liked the feel of the wind. At some point my Mom made me come into the house. We ate sandwiches and then went to the basement. My mother believed we should be quiet during a storm because she said it was God doing his work. Probably because we had to stay still and quiet most of us fell asleep. Wandra