Extreme weather warnings linger in my mind today as South Florida faces the prospect of catastrophic Hurricane Irma coming ashore this Friday. When I taught in the stressful atmosphere of urban, public schools, such a major storm would bring great relief to me in the anticipation that classes would be closed for days. In fact, life seemed much simpler during these “trying times” as I concentrated on the mere essentials of food, shelter, and family communication at home. How secure I always felt then that our solidly built condominium seemed secure from wind destruction and our storm shutters protected our family safely from flying glass and debris.
Yet, as I drive around my community today, I note how little can be done to withstand a major, hurricane strike in “So Flo.” I thus observe many locations where damaging winds could propel loose coconuts, flimsy signs, and patio clutter through the air like Nolan Ryan fastballs in the height of a storm’s wrath. I note also how canals and lakes, already overflowing from summer deluges, invite “wave-hell” flooding in low-lying areas. In addition, so many electric power lines hang flimsily along major roads to interact opposingly with brittle, tree branches, dangerously invading each other’s designated space.
I guess it paid off well to be a teacher who spent almost his entire working life planning for every contingency of daily crisis in the classroom. As I never waited to have ample, classroom supplies available to me at all times, it would only be second nature for me to stock up on essential hurricane supplies this week. Realizing that a power outage in my classroom required a more assertive approach to handling behavioral problems with my easily distracted students, I also would seem well prepared to handle the “trapped like a rat” conditions in my home to as I wait out the storm passage and destructive aftermath patiently.
As our country seems so divided today by angry -isms in our perplexing political climate, oddly enough, hurricanes have always provided me with evidence that our community can find new will to peacefully co-exist amidst such tragedy. Anonymous neighbors suddenly bond over sheltered sites to park their car or discuss cheapest locations to buy gas. Hammer and nail banging alerts nearby residents to take proper precautions in covering their windows and doors. Stray dogs and cats suddenly disappear from the street and are taken indoors by concerned residents.
Listen to the wind roar suddenly as this passing freight train arrives in the blackness of night. Gaze intently at the slow drip of your lighted candle as you appreciate its brightness as a welcome respite from your loss of electrical power. Most of all, savor the much needed sleep needed to re-energize your mind/body in peak form as you soon face the uncertain wrath of destructive silence next morning.