An Account of Hurricane Claudette

12:45
The electricity just went off and we are hoping that we didn’t lose anything as we did in one of the previous storms. Mom and I were standing outside, and I turned to go back in the house. I saw the lights come on and off three times and then all within the house was dark. The rain has begun to fall in significantly heavier amounts. To our east–the direction of the eye–we can hear a faint rumbling sound similar to the sound a train makes. I of course find this disturbing since I have often read-=-and at least on one occasion experienced–that this is the sound a tornado makes upon approaching. Whether this is the sound of a tornado or the approaching eye or both I do not know, but we shall uncover the truth of it soon. A few seconds ago I saw a large box fly over our roof without falling. This, I fear, is very indicative of how strong the wind is since there are not many other buildings around us. Before the electricity went off, I was able to contact my best friend via Yahoo Messenger and inform him of the situation. Having done so, I turned off the computer so as to avoiding losing it to lightning as we lost our other computer. While we were on our way back home from the pizza parlor, we noticed to our dismay that many of the radio stations were dead.
I do not know how long it will be before we are able to return to town, but when we left the mood was so nonchalant as to be disturbing. While we were eating at the local pizza parlor, we noticed that the wind had picked up to the point that it appeared that their sign would fly away. Mom called to the waitress, “Give me my bill; I have to get out of here!” The waitress said, “Why? What’s wrong?” Mom looked at her incredulously, possibly remembering–as I was doing–the image of the storm heading due west south of Victoria, in other words directly towards us, and said, “Don’t you know? There’s a hurricane coming!” The young waitress simply looked blank and said, “Oh….”

The eye approaches.

1:01
I just lit our first candle as it is extremely dark in the house once you get away from the sun room, in which I am writing this entry. It seems odd being cut off from all forms of information save our one non-electronic phone. As a consequence, save for a battery-operated radio that I have yet to turn on, we have no communication with the outside world and thus can no longer receive the broadcasts from the Weather Channel both on satellite and on the Internet that have been so beneficial to us. It is growing much darker outside, so much so that I no longer have sufficient light with which to write on my Palm keyboard–and I am directly beside the window.

1:10
The rumbling of which I spoke earlier has become so loud that I can hear it from inside the house. Mom is now busy lighting several candles and positioning them throughout the house.

1:15
I just went and looked out the front door and shot a few clips with the video option of my digital camera. The trees in from of the house have begun to bend so badly that they are touching my car. I fear that the images on the camera, much like the images one sees on the Weather Channel, can not accurately convey the ferocity of the wind that we are now experiencing. Moreover, they cannot express the quiet fear that rests not well within my heart as I listen to that rumbling come ever closer.

140
I just got back from a little hurricane adventure. While Mom and I were sitting on the front porch, we heard the heavy metal door to Dad’s shop slamming against the wall. At first she told me to not worry about it, but then she gave me permission to go close it if I could. I had tried to secure the door yesterday, but Dad had reversed the latch from its original position for easy entry from the outside. As a result, the shop door does not close easily. Since it does not rain here very often, we usually do not have to worry about this inconvenience, but on days like this it poses a problem. Anyway, I had to hunt down a raincoat, finding only the London Fog one which we have not used for a couple of years since somehow one of the sticky rat traps became attached to it and we were never able to remove the adhesive. I got in the Mule and drove to the shop, and I was horrified to find that the wind was much stronger out there. I made my way into the shop via the open south entrance, and went to the door. At first I put a couple of “heavy” toolboxes behind the door, but I sudden gust rammed open the door and sent me sprawling backwards and knocking over the toolboxes. Having got back up, I grabbed hold of the door again, but the wind suddenly sucked it shut and I felt the grind of the hard sheet metal against my fingers as I pulled them back–I had come but millimeters from getting my fingers chopped off. After sending a hasty prayer of thanks, I then tried to secure the door by using the latch, but it left the door open by about five inches and I was afraid the wind would be able to push it out of the way. Finally, I picked up more toolboxes and barricaded the lower part of the door with them. This seems to have done the trick. By the time I walked back out of the barn, the rain had become so hard that it felt like it could scratch one’s face, and it had become so heavy that I could barely see the house. Upon my return, Mom expresses her gratitude that I had finally returned: my prolonged absence had deeply worried her.
-One of the mats outside just slammed against the back door; it is becoming frightening.

2:01
It almost has become too dangerous to even walk outside on the front porch as we had been doing, so strong has the wind become. Indeed, the rain was falling so hard as well that I couldn’t even see the saloon down the road.

2:05
It has peaked to such intensity that I looked down towards the runway and saw what looked like a sideways river in its place. Things were rolling down it, and I am not entirely sure what I was seeing. I have long said that the thicket in which we live is one of the great benefits of living here on account of the protection it provides from hurricanes, and I am proud to say that it is doing as great a job of protecting us as we believed it would. We know nothing of what is occurring elsewhere, but as I know many of the houses in the county are exposed to the elements, I can only hope that things elsewhere have not come to the worst. Dad called a few minutes ago from Tulsa and, after hearing Mom tell him of the conditions here, said something to the effect of: “Well, I wish we had some here.” This strikes me as a rather flippant remark, and I don’t think he understands the severity of the situation here. Granted, this is supposed to be a “minimal hurricane,” but as it grows more frightening by the moment—indeed, I am continually stopping my typing to behold the strange and somehow beautiful horror outside–I find I cannot believe he has dismissed it so.

2:20
The horror! I heard a loud cracking sound from the front porch and I was horrified to find that the tree beside the cattle guard entering the compound and been ripped up and it had pulled apart the cattle guard in its fall. I called out to Mom and, upon seeing the sight, said, “Holy crap…” in utter disbelief. While we were grieving over this tragedy that will prevent us from leaving the house via that path, we heard another large cracking and were aware that the tree directly above my car was beginning to fall down as well! I scrambled to move Mom’s car out of the way–getting utterly drenched–and then got in my car and pulled it up beside it while I heard the large oak begin to crack even further. Back inside, after hugging each other, I ran to the back porch to see if anything bad had happened in the back yard. As i was looking out the double doors to the rock garden, the wind suddenly sucked the doors–the locked doors–open! I pulled them back and, with Mom’s help, was able to fasten the ground bolts more securely than they were previously. A friend of ours just called us and told us that two 18-wheelers had been pushed over by the wind on the highway…

3:15
I haven’t written anything for the last hour or so because what I would have written would merely have seemed a repetition of things I have written before. However, at 3:10 I was trying to put batteries in the radio I mentioned previously. As I was in my room doing so, I heard a loud FWUMP! Mom, who was talking on the phone with the Saltieris, whose driveway has been blocked by a fallen tree, yelled, “Holy crap!” The beautiful, solitary oak tree that had stood in the side yard had been knocked over and had fallen against the house. Only some kind of divine providence had kept the massive, tall tree from coming through our window. The collapse has left a massive hole in the side yard and we are not entirely sure that will we be able to move it from the house without damaging the roof. Dick called and said that he heard on the radio that the eye hasn’t even reached us yet and that we may not have our power restored until tomorrow night. The rain has ceased dramatically, but the wind–God, the wind–is as strong as ever.

4:00
As I said, the rain had weakened dramatically–ultimately to the point that there was none at all, and it remains this way. Mom says this is the eye, but I am not so certain since I have often heard that you can see daylight in the middle of the eye. Anyway, I took advantage of the cessation of rain and took off on foot to explore the place. Dad’s shop was still intact, although the gutter had come off. One of the old ostrich building had taken such a beating by the rain that it now lies in shambles. What’s more, up the now largely treeless road to the guest quarters, the curved metal roof above the old breeder pens is been ripped and mangled and is now largely gone. I continued on down the road to the horse barn and found it largely intact, but the massive mesquite in front of it had been split as though some giant had hacked his axe straight down the middle. And the saddest sight–the saloon’s sliding metal back door had been ripped off and now the rain is pouring in on my grandfather’s old furniture. The rock I had put in front of the building’s ramshackle wooden front door no longer suffices to keep in it place, and I fear it will soon come off. Moreover, the porch above it–never very sturdy–looks ready to give up the ghost and collapse. Indeed, I was afraid of the structure collapsing on top of me while I was repositioning the aforementioned rock. On the way home, a gust of wind literally picked me off my feet and threw me on the ground. Upon returning home, I took Mom for a quick ride in the Mule and I could tell her heart was broken. However, she shows an ability to look on the bright side of things since she just came in from checking the pool house and said, “Well, at least those vines we wanted down are gone.”

She has just yelled to me from the den that the storm is picking up again.

5:47 PM
Still without power. It seems the storm has calmed down, although the wind is still much stronger than normal. The humidity is starting to set in. A few minutes ago I went down to the front gate on foot to assess the damage there, taking photos of the other damage along the way. Before I went, I pulled up the board at the cattle guard that was preventing us from getting out of the main compound by means of any vehicle. By the time I had almost made it to the windmill, I was aware of a slow-moving SUV coming down the road. They were gawking at the damage, and admittedly there was quite a lot to look at. I couldn’t see the gate at first since the massive mesquite that used to stand by the roadside had been shattered and had fallen across the road. After I made my way around that, I found that the gate itself was half open. I looked at it sadly, afraid that the wind, in pushing it back, had damaged the machinery used to close it, but after tugging on it and finding it quite set in place, I went on through. Our beautiful ranch sign had been yanked from one of its chains and hung limply. Most surprisingly, the metal silhouette of an ostrich that stood on one side of the gate was bent all the way back from the force of the wind! I fixed the gate–it still worked due to its battery–although I had to help it shut by pulling it against the force of the wind (now coming from the east). Just to make sure, I put some chains on it. One of the most impressive sights I saw on my inspection trip was one of the old ostrich shelters: the tall, sturdy edifice was flat on the ground just as though some giant fist had come down and squashed it flat.

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