Memories of an Angry Lady
During the storm that finally hit our area, formerly known as Hurricane Irma that degenerated into a tropical storm by the time it made it to north Georgia, I had flashbacks, of a sort. Maybe it was the wind that uprooted thousands of trees across the state, multiple inches of rain, floods and flash floods—but memories returned.
It was June of 1972. I was stationed at Quantico Marine Corps Base near the coast of Virginia. We had a two month old son and lived in a small apartment building. One of our neighbors was a drill instructor at The Basic School and helped to train officers for the Marine Corps. He and his wife became our friends. We would occasionally get together when there was time.
On one of those occasions, we were at the apartment building playing cards and board games when a storm came up. We were used to the rain and generally ignored it. Somewhere along the way the power went out and, with it, the opportunity to have a hot meal. The wives lamented and the husbands volunteered to go to McDonalds for a fast and inexpensive lunch. Off we went into the rain.
The wind was blowing hard, the rain came down sideways, water flowed across the streets, and there were no other cars on the road. None. At all. We thought that a bit strange but, being Marines with a mission, we forged on ahead. We finally arrived at McDonald’s—which was closed. We thought it odd but decided to find another fast food joint. All of them were closed, too. So, we decided to turn on the car radio.
It was then that we learned that we were smack in the middle of Hurricane Agnes. Agnes would prove to be, up to that time, the costliest hurricane in United States history. Nearly every state on the East Coast was impacted as were Cuba, Canada, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Before it was all over, 128 people would lose their lives. And there we were out looking for hamburgers.
The devastation in our area was mild compared to some areas in the east. Pennsylvania received over 15 inches of train. But we received our share. A mudslide, caused by the storm, hit the apartment building right next to ours, not ten feet away, and four families were immediately homeless. The towns around us would take months to recover.
Because of the lingering humidity, mold infested a huge number of dwellings and, because of a lung problem my son contracted, brought on by the conditions, my wife took our baby boy and moved in with her parents in northeast Tennessee. I moved back into the barracks and they stayed away until everything was finally dried out.
Having unwittingly been in the middle of a hurricane (I didn’t listen to the news in those days), I have no desire to experience another. If I had been in Florida for Irma, I’m pretty sure I would have heeded the warnings, loaded up the family, and driven to Colorado or wherever the highest ground is. It’s been a long time since I had memories of Agnes. She was not a sweet lady and I hope to never meet her like again.
David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, (www.ctkcec.org). The church is located at 4881 Hwy 34 E, Sharpsburg, and meets on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org