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Haunted by Hurricanes


THIS ‘N THAT by Nicky De Lange

As I’m writing this column, it is Thursday, August 24. Hurricane Harvey is expected to make land fall in Corpus Christi late tomorrow night or early Saturday morning.
With all the storm coverage on television, I keep being haunted by memories of past hurricanes.
The very first one I can remember was Hurricane Diane in 1955. I was in junior high at the time and living in Baltimore, Maryland. The only memory I have of this event was that the basement of the house we were living in flooded. Apparently, we were lucky and the area of the city we lived in didn’t get hit very hard. The next hurricane I remember vividly. It was 1960 and I had just arrived in New Orleans to begin my freshman year at Newcomb College. As the taxi took me across the campus, I noticed people boarding up glass doors and windows at the University Center. When I asked the cab driver what was going on, he explained that a storm was headed that way. I don’t think it got there because I couldn’t find it when I Googled it. But it was quite an introduction to both college and New Orleans.

The next storm to hit was also in New Orleans in 1965, and it was the memorable Hurricane Betsy. I was married by then, and my husband and I lived in a small apartment in the Garden District. During the night, the storm, one of the worst to ever hit the Crescent City, tore huge oak trees out of the ground all along St. Charles Avenue. The flooding was terrible. A subdivision named Caroline Park had 8-10 feet of water. Rescuers had to tie bodies to trees while they went ahead rescuing the survivors. I’ve never forgotten that.

We moved to Texas City in 1970. Residents were still talking about Hurricane Carla which brought big flooding to the area in 1961. We were fortunate to miss it, but a neighbor told us all the houses in the area flooded, including ours. Maybe we got lucky, because the next serious tropical disaster didn’t show up until 1979. But when Tropical Storm Claudette (not to be confused with Hurricane Claudette later) came ashore, it brought enough rain with it to flood areas that normally never flooded. Alvin was particularly hard hit. My best friend and I had been planning a trip to Las Vegas for months. The day before our departure, we didn’t think we’d be able to make it to Hobby Airport. Fortunately, we were able to take back roads most of the way – I-45 had suffered serious damage and was impassable in some places. After that, nothing could have looked better to us than a desert!

All went well for several years; then Hurricane Alicia appeared in the Gulf.
Hurricane Alicia was more a windy storm than a wet one. Downed trees were everywhere and we didn’t get our electricity back for 11 days. Did I mention this happened in August? It was miserable. Most businesses were closed, cold soft drinks were literally “Gone With The Wind,” and bags of ice were almost non-existent.
To this day when I see a commercial truck delivering ice, I have this overwhelming desire to chase it. Another wonderful storm memory.
Sad to say I’m out of space and I haven’t even made it to Gilbert, the hurricane that didn’t arrive, or Ike and Rita. Maybe next week . . . if Harvey doesn’t wipe out the electricity or flood The Post offices.

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