HURRICANE! Where Were You?

... Hurricane of '38 inspires author to take up meteorology

Marie Moreland

Wednesday, August 9, 2000, The Silver Stringers met at the Milano Senior Center at 235 West Foster Street, Melrose. We were given as a project for next week - "Where were you during the Huricane of 1938?"

This topic brought out many reactions from the members. Yes, they were there and what stories they had to tell! We were then requested to write our experiences.

That night, August 9, TV - had a program - The Big Storms. The terrible Hurricane of 1821, then the Hurricane of 1938 and the one that is yet to come - predicting destruction of New York City and along the coast to the Cape and Islands.

These storms have made us aware how fragile we are - and the need to prepare for such catastrophes - widespread disaster that destroys life and properties. Now our meteorologists are specialized with weather equipment to track storms. More has been developed for us to detect bad weather. We can build or escape or make plans for surviving.

In the '38 Hurricane I, a teenager, was in my father's store - variety store. It was my first experience with such a storm. The radio warned everyone to stay indoors until the all clear signal was sounded. It was exciting and thrilling watching the wind and the rain. There was no idea of fear as to what could happen to us; after all, wasn't this storm outside?

But I noticed how worried my parents were as we watched the trees, branches and all sorts of things flying by the store window. The wind roared - strong and fierce and it rained in sheets. The store front glass window buckled in and out. Dad was concerned that the wind would blow it in. He made us go back behind the counter into another room so that we would not be sliced by flying glass.

Suddenly it was still - so still - the storm was over! (so we thought). We know now that it was the EYE of the storm. It was lovely - calm, bright-everything looked so clean! And then it started again -- shimmering windows, strong wind with heavy rain carrying branches and loose debris. Two huge trees were completely up rooted - showing long roots and earth - wires dangling among the scattered branches.

After this storm I became interested in meteorology - the study of weather - the atmosphere. As storms were predicted, I would make up a chart and track it up the coast - noting wind speed and velocity - comparing previous storms. I did this for a number of years. Now I just watch and listen to weather forecasters.

Will we be ready for the next big hurricane that is now being predicted? I doubt it. We have become too secure in our own little world. Famous quote -"Whatever happens here, we can handle it."

September 1, 2000

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