Hurricanes are fascinating storms

Published 3:02 pm Monday, September 26, 2005

By By Janet Little Cooper
From as early as I can remember, I have always loved hurricanes. I was probably the only elementary student in school who knew the beginning and ending dates of the season.
I don't know why or how my interest in hurricanes began. I just remember our neighbors in New Orleans referring to me as their 'local weathergirl'. We lived in an apartment building that housed four families. At the approaching threat of a tropical storm or hurricane, I would collect everyone's garbage cans and any other loose items that may turn into flying projectile as well as giving continual weather updates.
I can remember begging my parent's to let me tape our windows even if the storm wasn't projected to hit anywhere near us.
My oldest brother, Gilbert, was the only family member that would appease my fascination of hurricanes.
He carried me to get food for impromptu hurricane parties that only fueled my excitement. He would also drive me through town just to see people taping or boarding their windows.
To be honest, hurricanes are what prompted me in my pursuit of journalism. As crazy as it may sound, I dreamed of being able to report from the landfall of a storm with the wind-driven rain blowing and pounding me in all directions.
I watch hurricane coverage like some women watch soap operas. I admit it, I'm a hurricane-aholic. I can't help myself. If I am able, I watch the tropical updates at 50 past the hour every hour on the weather channel.
I took meteorology classes in junior college just to advance my knowledge of the fascinating storms. My professor shared my enthusiasm. He peaked my curiosity even more however.
My fixation of the cyclones has spread to my children. They actually didn't have a choice in the matter. I carried my oldest son, Austin to Pensacola Beach the night before Hurricane Erin hit in 1996 and then again several years later in Navarre when a system was passing by.
I remember the winds being so strong that Austin couldn't stand! The majesty of the wind and waves is something to behold.
But for the first time in my life, I am beginning to tire of the word 'hurricane'. Such a statement from me is cause for concern!
Since coming to the Advance recently, I have typed the word hurricane more times than I care to remember.
Say it isn't so, but I think I'm almost hurricaned out!
I was here for Erin, Opal, Ivan, and Dennis. The first two did nothing more than increase my interest. Ivan however got my attention when a 40-something year old pecan tree creamed my house. I wondered often why I chose to stay for such a severe storm and even more why I was so amazed at them.
What I realized from my experience and losses with hurricanes is that it is the actual process of formation and development of the cyclone that amazes me. I do not love or even remotely like, the end result of hurricanes that involves tornadoes, flooding and destruction. Nor do I love being without electricity for days without end and I most certainly do not love MREs.
I am deeply sorry for the hundreds of thousands of people who have had their world turned upside down due to these powerful masses. I have met so many people who have lost everything due to hurricanes. They certainly do not deserve this kind of destruction.
I do understand to some extent the emotions associated with such devastation, because I too, lost a home due to Ivan and Dennis. Hurricanes are a terrible, tragic force that has the ability to destroy all things living or nonliving.
I am by no means excited or fascinated by the result of their devastation. I am merely in awe of their formation.
As I write this, we are watching yet another hurricane. Rita packs winds of 165 miles an hour with Texas in her sight.
Rita, much like Katrina is a picture perfect storm that will be studied for years to come.
My windows are still covered with plywood. As of now, I plan on leaving the plywood until December. I figure that this year's season has been so sporadic and spontaneous that the typical November deadline may be extended.
It is my hope that once November passes, my vocabulary will take a dramatic turn from words associated with hurricanes like, victim, displaced, refugees, devastation,flooding, FETA, etc.
I feel as if I am completing step one of the 12-step recovery program by admitting I have an obsession with hurricanes and am even tiring of them.
But once the season ends, I will have an adequate break and no doubt be ready to go again with the same enthusiasm I've had since childhood.
Let's continue to pray for God's mercy as we still have two months left to go in the season.
Janet Little Cooper is lifestyles reporter for the Atmore Advance. Her column appears weekly.

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