I thought we might make it out of this year without a hurricane, but nope. Miss Sandy is spoiling that hopeful thought and I’m sitting here wondering whether the basement will flood again.
We’ve had a lot of hurricanes in Virginia during my life but they still seem to be aberrations. The first one I remember was Diane in 1956. My buddy, Jimmy Mills, and I were at dance class in the community center in Middleburg the afternoon it hit. We were 10 years old and had heard that the winds would be 100 miles per hour. We decided to walk home to see if we could keep our feet in 100 mph wind. Well, we didn’t find that out because the winds, although pretty stiff weren’t that high, but we did find out what heavy rain will do to the flannel jackets and pants we were obliged to wear to the dance class. To this day I still wonder why they never called a hurricane “Hurricane Momma” because what our mommas had to say and do about our flannels was a whole lot worse than any hurricane damage I’ve ever suffered.
The next bad one I recall was Camille in 1969. There were likely others but Camille was the next to upset my situation and they are the ones you remember. I was at the Judge Advocate Generals School in Charlottesville when that bad girl came hauling east from the Mississippi region, slammed into our mountains and about drowned half the state. Seriously, flashfloods just carried off several Virginia mountain villages and the folks in them. After the storm passed several of us drove down to Scottsville to see the James and that river was not something to be messed with. I didn’t see another river with shoulders like that until I saw the Miramichi in New Brunswick during the spring run-off in 1983.
My housemates and I had gone into the JAG School billets because a stream ran across the front of the property where we’d rented a house and we were afraid of getting marooned. Well, we didn’t get marooned on the farm. We got marooned in Charlottesville. High waters made all the bridges dangerous and we couldn’t cross them to leave the area. I was engaged at the time and missed some good engagement parties in Hampton that weekend. (I’ve never been quite sure what it meant when my then wife-to-be and now ex-wife asked me “weren’t those parties fun?” I might have saved us both some aggravation if I’d been more inquisitive.)
I ducked the worst damage I might have gotten from Camille because I never went back to the house we’d rented or saw our landlord again. You see, I’d caught a large bass in the farm’s pond and had stored it in the refrigerator’s freezer and Camille knocked out the electricity for several days.
Hurricane Isabel in 2003 actually did me some good although its low pressure system ruined the fishing up in the Adirondacks where I was when it hit. When I got home, I found that the high water hadn’t quite gotten into my place but the electricity had been off. A friend had collected all my frozen food for safe keeping so all Isabel did for me was defrost my refrigerator which needed it badly.