To the Editor:
September 28, 2022 will go down in infamy and will be remembered for some years to come. Ian was almost a 100-year storm, or close to it. The landfall over the island was slow and gruesome, traveling only a few miles an hour and with winds 2 miles per hour shy of a category 5 storm. With a nearly 35-mile eye diameter and snail speed, this was to be a disaster by any measure. Yet, imagine that there were people who rode out the storm inside their houses, like my wife and I did. We simply did not expect it would get this powerful. We had weathered through many hurricanes like Charlie and others in our house, but none of them were like Ian.
When the floor you stand on is shaking, you quickly realize that you are not in a good situation. As the storm’s rear eye wall was passing overhead, the wind started coming from the north, creating the worst possible case, hitting our house broadside perpendicular to our six large sliding doors. Fortunately, we have sturdy metal accordion shutters over these doors. Even still the wind pushed one of our sliding door panels partially inside. All we could do at that time was to press ourselves against the panels and battle the force of the wind trying to blow them out. This hell on earth lasted for at least eight hours, until the wind started to slow down. It feels surreal when you consider that the continuously shaking bed as you are finally laying down to sleep is an improvement.
I have always imagined that being inside a house during a major hurricane would be scary, but it’s not that. Were we scared? Most likely, but we did not have the time to acknowledge it. Our focus was on what had to be done to make it through the day as the beast of a hurricane roared around us. This was an overriding thought, just get through this day. Nothing else really mattered.
The driving horizontal rain and hurricane winds forced the water under our sliding doors of the second and third floors. There was no flood outside our home, but it sure felt as if it was happening. We used all the rags, carpets and towels we could find to plug the incoming water. We have done some good being there after all.
Surprisingly, flooding due to rain seems to be the Achilles’ heel of even the best built houses. Water is not supposed to flow uphill, but strong winds force it up through the roof soffit into the attic. Another of our observations was that even though the hurricane- rated glass will hold up, the frame it is attached to can break off from its mount.
All else considered, our house had passed the test, and what a relief! Pop the cork and on to next ‘cane!
Over the years, I have learned simple, yet never- failing rules on what wind directions to expect during a hurricane. Due to consistent counterclockwise rotation of the hurricane winds, this rule never fails.
When the hurricane makes landing overhead or south of us, expect first prevailing winds from the south. As the rear eye wall passes us, the winds will change to northerly. This was the case of Ian and Charlie. In both cases, the devastating winds were from the north.
When the hurricane makes landing north of us or keeps moving up the Gulf coast, the winds will blow first from east, then west, as it is passing.
There are people who seek thrills, like bungee jumping, high cliff-diving, free-fall skydiving and such. These thrills take seconds. May I suggest riding out a major hurricane in your house? This would last for hours. See what is more thrilling.