Posted on Friday, September 02, 2005


I have a confession to make: This isn’t the first time I’ve had a blog up on the web. The reason I closed down my old storefront and set up this new one is a story for another day. And as much as I hate to return to the vault at my old place, I felt like I had to pull out these couple of paragraphs that I wrote about living through Hurricane Gilbert way back in 1988.

* * *

Now let me tell you something about the process of living through a category 5 hurricane and its aftermath, something I have no business knowing—volcanoes being the main source of natural disaster lore in my part of the country—but still do. You might think that a category 5 hurricane would be equally devastating regardless of where it makes landfall. But I’m here to testify that such an event in the United States—Florida, for example—plays out in a profoundly different manner from the same events in Mexico. In Florida, you would have high-tech storm warning and tracking systems. You’d have the Red Cross setting up shelters and distributing nourishing if flavorless sandwiches. Afterward, you might have the National Guard keeping the peace, the arrival of federal disaster relief, and probably Jeb Bush buzzing overhead in a helicopter, wringing his hands and saying, “Gosh, ain’t it awful?”

If you’re a tourist in Mexico, expect a slightly different experience. Expect to put your life in the hands of your beachfront hotel’s marketing director. He’s all that’s left because every civic leader and senior hotel executive skedaddled to higher ground as soon as they were able to translate the mysterious word, “Evacuate!” that the Miami Weather Bureau kept shouting at them over the phone lines. Be prepared to be herded with about 200 of your countrymen into the hotel basement because it’s already too late to evacuate a crowd that size and the basement is the only facility big enough to hold that many people that doesn’t have windows (and, therefore the eventual probability of broken glass propelled by winds approaching 200 mph). Be prepared to remind your hotel marketing director that, considering the basement is actually below sea level, it might not be the safest choice in the very likely event that the coming hurricane will be accompanied by a record storm surge. Watch your marketing director shrug and reassure you by saying, “We will hope for the best,” as he crosses himself and takes five minutes to get right with Jesus. Afterward, if you’re still alive, you will, of course, enjoy no electricity, plumbing, or communications until after your evacuation. You will be told, day after interminable day, to stay on hotel property because the locals are looting the town and the police still haven’t returned. Then, just as you expect the Mexican government to notice the devastated jungle which used to be the Yucatan Peninsula, expect to be reminded that the next day is Mexico’s Independence Day, so, despite even their own citizens’ dire circumstances, the government will close for the holiday and remain closed until sometime next week.

* * *

I never thought in a million years that I’d see scenes so reminiscent of Mexico playing out in the United States of America. I am so deeply saddened and, yes, ashamed, that such things could so easily happen here too. At least, after we were finally evacuated, we had a far away home to return to. Even after living through Hurricane Gilbert, I can’t even imagine what all those people in Mississippi and Louisiana are going through. God help them. Certainly the government hasn’t.

Here are one "before" and two "after" pictures. Notice the change in the color of the sky and water. Notice how the top right corner of the hotel has been chewed away in the "after" version. What you can't see in that photo is that the pool is completely full of rotting vegetation, including entire palm trees. We had to take a bucket of pool water with us to the only open toilets so that we could "flush." Two days after the storm, the hotel could identify 20 or so rooms sound enough to use. We spent the rest of the week in the room we were assigned to along with three other couples. Howser and I share the bed you see me on, another couple had the adjacent bed. A third couple slept on the floor. And the other couple assigned to our room elected to continue sleeping in the ballroom (can't say as I blame them!).

(p.s.--Sorry I'm not any better at adding photos to blogger. Bear with me; I'm still just a beginner!)

3 Response to " "

Anonymous Says:

You have a knack for
writing. I read about 20
blogs a day, and skim about
30 more, so I mean it! We
can all use improvement, but
you certainly are better than
most I've read.

I'm going to be starting a blog
soon, about keyword bidding
(I know, it sounds strange!) but
if you don't mind, I might drop
you a line just to get a little advice.

Thanks kindly.

One Crazy Blog Addict...!
Dave, King of All Keywords

OldHorsetailSnake Says:

Gee, brand new blog and already it gets spammed. You're so lucky, K.

Thanks for the report on surviving Gilbert. He was VERY bad.

surly girl Says:

we were in Mexico this June, on the Yucatan peninsula. Our hotel was almost completely destroyed in August, during hurricane Emily.....

bruh. makes you think, doesn't it. still, even if we'd been there we would have had a chance to get out and go home. that's what is so devastating about the situation in the South at the moment - there's nothing to go home to......

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