Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hurricane Patricia in Mexico

It is interesting how people fall into old patterns in the face of danger.  On Thursday the beginnings of warnings about TD Patricia began.  I went on Weather Underground and read what the meteorologist
was saying and predicting.  It did not sound good.  It sounded serious.

Back in the day when I lived in Louisiana and Texas, that was the "heads up" that caused me to first head to the grocery store, the service station and home to prepare to evacuate if the proposed course of the storm
was heading toward where I lived.  So, that is what I did.  Went to the grocery store, got gas and went home.

On the way home, I took the beautiful road from the store to my house that I like to take because I pass through the area with old growth trees that remind me of what San Miguel was like before deforestation.

Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw on a raised hill a sight I had never seen before on this route.  It caused me to stop, grab the camera and photograph the scene.

Two horses, one black, one white with the extinct volcanoes in the background along with the threatening skies from the storm.  What a beautiful sight, in my humble opinion.

I came home and reminisced about previous experiences with Big Storms.

In Texas for seventeen years, we lived across from the Johnson Space Center right on the backwaters of
Galveston Bay.  Many lessons were learned during those years.  About a year after my husband died, my
children and I moved into the house in Nassau Bay.  Elevation was 19 ft above sea level.  One of the highest elevations in that area, believe it or not.

In 1979 there was a depression that came inland and sat over that area.  It never became a hurricane.
It just stayed and in twenty-four hours it dumped 42 inches of rain.  Boats in the marina around the corner from my house rose with the water and popped out onto the streets or went through the roof of the slip and were smashed.  The water rose so much that it looked like we lived on waterfront property.  No way could
we have left our house.  All the streets were flooded.  Our house never flooded, one of the few.  By the time the water had risen completely, all the furniture in the house was off the floor just in case.  My son had a V bottom boat and wanted us to flee in the boat.  For safety sake, we stayed.  It was the only time we did not evacuate.

In subsequent hurricane threats, all I would have to hear was the storm was coming and I did what I wrote in the second paragraph.  I purchased food that would not have to be cooked or refrigerated.  Peanut butter, cereal, bread, charcoal.  Well, you get the idea.  These were foods for when we returned to a house that possibly and more then likely would not have electricity for a period of time.  Possibly no water either.

It did happen.  Hurricane Alicia came in in 1984.  It came in fast.  I was on a plane to Indianapolis to testify in a product liability case for the firm I worked for and by the time I landed the little storm had turned into a full blown hurricane.  Try getting news about a hurricane in doesn't happen.  I called home in a panic.  My oldest daughter, Jennifer, lived in Houston, but John and Julie were in the house by the water.

John wanted to stay because he had a surfboard and thought it would be fun.  Julie was just there and ready to do whatever.  Needless to say, I prevailed on the phone, in the courhouse in Indianapolis and they went to Houston.  I was excused from testifying and flew back in that night on the last plane to land at Houston Intercontinental Airport.  I could not get any farther then that for twenty-four hours due to the winds and rain. But my family was safe and who knew what we would find when we did get home.

When we did all finally get back to the house, about two or three days later, there was no electricity or water.  The five story cypress tree in the backyard had been hit by a tornado and was stripped of its bark and leaves, which were plastered on the house.  The house that was usually cream colored was a mottled green.  Oh and part of the roof was gone.  The amount of debris in the backyard took five dump trucks to remove.  It was August 18th when the storm hit.  No electricity for three weeks in that heat was a lesson as well.  The kids and I slept on the marble floor in the foyer at night.  It was the only cool place.  We had cooked all the food in the freezer on the charcoal grill and packed it in coolers with ice.  Believe me, I never wanted to go through anything like that again.  To this day, when I hear chainsaws going, I think of that storm.  Our subdivision had been built in a huge pecan orchard.  The  amount of trees lost was horrifying and sad.

But, I did not have water in the house and was lucky.   Every future storm  I loaded up the kids, the animals, and the big plastic tub that had important papers and photographs that could not be replaced.  Nothing else mattered.  Sometimes there was not storm as it headed another direction.  I did not care as life was more important then stuff.

Way back in 1965, a hurricane came up the Mississippi River while we lived in the Married Student apartments at LSU.  It sank a clorine barge!  It too was one of those fast moving storms that did not leave time to evacuate.  My husband and I along with Jennifer and John were huddled in the closet all night.  The rains blew so hard that the water was blowing through the concrete block.  I was 71/2 months pregnant with Julie.  What a night that was.  Luckily we were on the second floor. The entire city of Baton Rouge had to be evacuated while they lifted the barge.  We were gone for three days, if memory serves me well.

I write all of this to share with you for  those of you who might never have been anywhere near such a storm. If you ever find yourselves in one, remember these stories.  It is not something to take lightly.  Too many people have lost their lives by doing so.  I lost several friends during Ike and Katrina.  My dad helped the Red Cross in 1964 during Carla to remove 500 bodies in  South Louisiana and Texas.

So, that's it from here high in the mountains of Mexico.  I never have to worry about hurricanes, tornadoes or anything like that again.  I only worry about friends and family who are still in the path!  Stay safe in Texas and anywhere else that TD Patricia is headed.  It's not over til it's over............


Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds like a hair-raising story. Thanks for sharing!

When thinking about hurricanes, I think that people tend to forget about how damaging the sheer quantity of rain can be, never mind the wind. And that it's likely to keep raining hard long after the hurricane has officially passed. In the case of Patricia, it looks like it will bring a lot of rain to huge swaths of Mexico. Certainly in Zacatecas, they are draining reservoirs as a precautionary measure so as to avoid flooding downstream.

I'm glad you're OK. I've heard from Nancy in Mazatlán this morning, and she and Paul are OK too. Let's all pray for Steve.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we get a hurricane warning every few years, and I'm one of the few who actually takes them seriously.

crynoutloud said...

Hola Babs,

I spent a winter in Maleque so I was very interested in this storm. We invest so much time, money and memories in our homes that it must be crushing when storms destroy everything. Initial reports are better than expected for Patricia damage, Thank God.
From what I have been reading it is going to get worse along the coast, east and west and gulf. Rising seas and more storms.

Croft said...

The worst we have had on our protected inside coast of Vancouver Island is maybe 80 MPH wind and that is bad enough! Someone said they had some indication on Facebook that Steve is OK but I have not been able to confirm it. I don't pray but am sending continuous positive thoughts to him and his friends.

Babs said...

In my past experience, Kim, it's the tornadoes and the storm surge that is the worst. It is certainly something to not take lightly.........

Yes, crynoutloud, being on the coasts, anywhere in the world are going to continue to be more difficult to be as a living space.

Croft, someone else, a friend of Steve's posted that he is ok. I asked on that post for him to please let us know personally as he is on the peninsula in a glass covered house.

I'm waiting to hear from about 5 good friends to know that they are okay. One was in La Manzanilla, where the storm made landfall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Another friend, the one I stay with, is at the end of a dirt road, right on the ocean, but up on a bluff. He has no phone, TV or internet. I doubt he even knew the storm was coming.........Oh my, worry, worry.
There is no way a storm with 165 MPH winds did not cause widespread way. We just haven't seen the photos yet. I remember in IKE, they said that everything looked good and then initially in Katrina as well. Keep your fingers crossed. Strangely, the wind is picking up here in SMA!

Retired Teacher said...

I'm glad that the storm had weakened somewhat from its peak when it hit land, but even so there must have been enormous devastation. Barbara, are you getting any more detailed information from Mexican news sources about damage and loss of life than what we are getting up here?

Babs said...

Bill, I don't have Mexican TV, no even Univision. I have relied on Facebook and videos I've found on that site. But, most of those were like 12 seconds long, and show only trees blowing and rain falling. THE US TV networks, like CNN, said they had not gotten any photos yet. There is a website called DigitalNews that showed some photos, but not much.

Those areas are very remote. So, it will take time to get photos or information, I'm sure. Hopefully, when the airports in PV, Tepic and Manzanillo reopen, someone will fly in and check things out.

They did turn the electricity off in Barre de Navidad yesterday before the storm hit to prevent fires. Have no idea when that will be turned back on.

I will let you know as soon as I know something. The info in the USA is very spotty, to put it politely.

Scott said...

Since this morning, most of the reports have been out of Puerto Vallarta. That's where the Weather Channel and other big network weather reporters have been because of the tourist factor. Perhaps there was a report out of the port city of Manzanillo, but I didn't see one. And the WC and networks switched to their reality/opinion based programming in the afternoon.

There are traffic issues heading South out of PV because of some downed trees and such, causing delays. And I heard the tail end of one report describing the usual 4 hour trek to GDL taking seven hours.

Babs said...

Thanks Scott. Last night I saw lots of photos of the area. In La Manz, the water went through properties, downed palapas and trees, but I did not see any building toppled. Amazing.