Did you ever as a kid, cup a blade of grass between your palms and blow? That is a miniature version of the sound our doors made at the overlap of sliding panel and fixed panel. Being large and massive, the sonic frequency of this buzz was at foghorn level and seemed just as loud! The relative windspeeds could aways be guaged by the door-horns, becuase only gusts made the erie scream. And only the 150mph+ gusts made all four scream at once.
As Frances bears down on Florida I am recalling small vignettes of memories of hurricanes past experienced by people I knew and myself also.
I hope others will add flash memories of their own.
1) the hurricane of 1926, Miami Fl. The 125mph winds whipped the city for fully 12 hours.
a)My uncle was a four year old. This storm gave him his very first visual memory: watching the roof of the neigbor's detached garage suddenly loft right off the building, and lazily cartwheel down the street until it disintegrated.
b)My granddad was a physician. He took good advantage of the Eye, by hopping into the Essex and speeding to his hospital two miles away. The injured would be pouring in, you see.
c)Years ago I knew an elderly man who as young man roomed in a cottage on NW 36th street. He and his companions spent the long night bodily leaning against a flimsey french door that it might not blow in. For if that happens you know, the house is liable to explode.
2)Hurricane Andrew 1992. My best friend's former wife was so much in denial of the hurricane threat, she took a sleeping pill and went to bed that August night. In the wee hours she awoke as seawater lapped over the bedspead. Her little dog yapped and barked in alarm. Betty is 4'11" tall. With tiny dog under arm and a flashlite in the other, in the dark, Betty found her front door impossible to open. Out next to the attached gararge with it's automatic door opener, useless without power. She found a flashlight by now, and somehow reached that small pull chain to bypass the opener mechanism. Betty got that door opened only one panel-width, but that was enough to squeeze through under water. From there, Betty's luck improved: the storm surge at her home's elevation did not pass four feet from the floor. And her street ascends in grade going from the water to the limestone ridge a block away. In this height of water and full force winds and no light, with debris flying, she bobbed, jumped and in bare feet somehow made it up to the higher ground a block away, and found sanctuary and saved her dog to boot.
b)Post-storm insurance estimator work: I saw it all. One home proudly retained badge of passing: A concrete roof tile intact but imbedded hachet-style in the soft pine front door panel.
c)in another home the plate glass windows and sliding doors fore and aft in the living room blew out. A heavy, full sized old time upright piano -had- been firmly against a flat wall. When I saw it, it had been waltzed out by the winds and spun around into the middle of the room. Still standing upright- which is remarkable becuase these old type pianos have a very high center of gravity.
d)my home didn't suffer. It was even -quiet- inside while the storm blew outside. The soud of rain and the occasional skitter of a concrete roof tile across the others was the general atmosphere. In the 40' long florida room as we call a solarium here, the four pairs of wood framed sliding doors presented a remarkable sight and sound: the angle of the sustained winds was such that the four by seven foot tempered solid glass was put under sustained negative pressure as compared inside the room. This made the glass bow outwardly a full, measured one quarter inch! Had that glass shattered I guess given the circumstances, my home would've survived- but only due to luck of the special circumstances.
Tell your own pesonal or next-person experiences. I know with sad certainty there will be a crop of searingly raw responses to this post- new pains that are just about to happen. God help us I wish to say but only we can save ourselves.
Still, I prefer hurricanes to any of the other common natural disasters because they are eminently survivable