Everything looks greener after a good storm. The plants are windswept, bent and broken but they look more alive than ever. Maybe it’s the yellowish morning light or the fact that everything still has a sheen of moisture on it from the previous night. This is the first thought that enters my head upon seeing our yard in the daylight after the storm.
Tropical storms and hurricanes remind us that nothing can remain the same forever, and that nature has the power to reclaim all land for its own. Everything, man made or not, is speckled with splotches of green – leaves stripped from their trees have been plastered to every surface by the force of the rain and wind.
On our road, a rubber tree has taken down a power line with it as it fell, blocking the road and blowing the area’s transformer. Perhaps the saddest thing is a tall palm tree, its girth exceeding two arms’ length, snapped at its base, its ancient growth halted forever. There are many trees which I spot this way as we walk or drive around the island – trees older than me or my parents, ripped from the ground.
When we get back home, mom makes tea on the barbecue since our oven is electric.
It is important for Bermudians to be affected by hurricanes. For a small, isolated island people, its easy for us to get stuck in our ways. Hurricanes can force change of the landscape around us, and then maybe our minds will open a little more to change in other senses of the word. Hurricanes may be debilitating, but they remind us how much we can do as a community and how caring we must be towards one another to survive in our island environment.
People come out of the woodwork brandishing machetes, brooms, gloves, rakes, trucks; anything to help move the debris. By about noon at least one lane on most roads is clear. You can tell it’s an island storm with avocados littering the streets, as the fruit tree is in bloom this time of year, and coconuts having been shaken from their lofty heights.
The road facing the harbor took a beating. Walls are wrecked, having been blown over or crushed under a toppled object. A groaning mast juts slightly into the road, its hull about 30 feet below and its wind vane still swinging halfheartedly, as it scrapes a rut in the limestone. The boat’s lost its mooring and been pushed so far up against the coast that its sitting diagonally, half out of the water.
More terrifying, perhaps, is the fact that we see a container, a huge metal container floating in the harbor, secured by a few good samaritans to the shore with some rope.
We pick up bits of information from talking with others and drive to see the sights for ourselves. We hear that most people don’t have power, that many roads are blocked, that people are trying to check on their loved ones by car since landlines are down and cell towers don’t work. No-one was prepared for the storm since its intensity strengthened overnight and turned into a few hours of 150 mph winds. There are no fatalities and schools are closed tomorrow.
I spend a large part of the day parking the large fiddlewood branches that my mom pulls from the dog runs in our backyard. Her dog business will be closed tomorrow since our yard is still in a bit of a shambles.
Hurricanes force us back in time to the use of candles to light our way and the dipping of water from our tanks to drink and wash. It’s a pain in one sense, but exciting in another. Candles cast strange, erratic shadows about the room and make you look where you wouldn’t normally. The other overwhelming fact is the lack of noise. There is no electrical hum from the TV or computer, the fridge is silenced and the whir of the fan or the gurgle of the A/C are absent. It’s a quiet that would be impossible to obtain in any other situation.
This tropical storm was a jolt to everyone because we had no indication that it would be a threat. No-one was prepared to lose power and so there was a rush to the few places that were open to get hot food and supplies. My power is back on now, but there is much cleanup to be done. Not a bad storm to be my (almost) namesake.