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1950_12_30--026_SP how to live through hurricane

'I) How to Live Through a Hurricane I PHILIP I I YUE • A well-known author of Gulf Stream tales, who lives on the majorhurricane track, tells what he does before the blow starts, how he rides it out, and about the heart-breaking cleanup job afterward. lilHE sky was blue innocence, the air as washed and warm as on any tropic day, and the sun made the landscape glow. It was the morning after another hurricane. I came downstairs and began the usual inventory. Our rooms would have been very dark — because of the cypress shutters over the windows and glass doors—but we had left one deeply recessed opening unbarred. Light came grayly from there; the outdoors, seen through it, was as brilliant as the color picture on the screen of a dim theater. I flipped a switch. No light. I'd expected none. The telephone, lifted from its cradle, emitted no hum. It had gone out at eleven the evening before. In the kitchen I turned a tap unhopefully, but this time our city water flowed. I let the hot tap run, since the tanks would still be warm, filled a kettle and set it on the miniature stove beside the inert coils of the electric range. I struck a match, but its damp head smeared, so I snapped a cigarette lighter and set afire the can of solidified alcohol. The louvers on the kitchen door opened with effort. The door itself resisted until I pushed hard enough to crack branches, of which there was a drifted heap in the carport where our two automo- biles were jammed deliberately against each other and a concrete wall. The cars were polka-dotted with thousands of poinciana leaflets and stood hubdeep in debris. But no glass was broken and they seemed all right. No morning paper on the steps. A glance down the curving driveway gave one possible explanation: it was blocked by limbs from our live-oak trees, limbs thigh-thick, heaped as high as the top of a big truck. The lawn lay invisible beneath vegetation, with pans, tins, pots, flower containers and other objects here and there—objects less careful neighbors or people somewhere had failed to take indoors. I walked toward the green barricade in the drive. Lo and behold, the newspaper lay there, after all! The boy had come as close to our house as he could and tossed it over the heap. Its headline read: DAMAGE MAY REACH 30 MILLIONS To the left was the poinsettia bed, a hundred feet long, hewn in hard rock by the gardener and myself, filled by wheelbarrow with special dirt and planted with choice cuttings which this year were expected to produce a wall of scarlet. Two great oak branches and a tree now lay upon the bed, poinsettias crushed JOSEPH J. STEINS.- After the wires go down, Mr. and Mrs. Wylie rely on the battery radio for hurricane reports. JOSHPH J. STEINMETZ Before the wind begins, Wylie and his gardener bolt heavy storm shutters over the windows. beneath. The foot-thick trunk of the tree was splintered; it had been tossed by last night's wind from a nearby woods onto our floral border. I walked around the high brick wall that masks the clothes-drying yard. A huge solanum vine, still in flower when the red-and-black hurricane-warning flags were hoisted, lay prostrate in the yard, and not a blossom left. Where the parasol-wide leaves of the taro had tented a corner of the house, was a green wreck. The pads of the tropical water lilies in the pool I'd spent months digging and cementing were turned up and tattered like flounces on the dress of a drowned girl. Rain that fell inches in minutes had brimmed the little pond; leaves, twigs and branches filled it. The oak at its base was probably done for. Two branches of seven remained; the rest stood stiffly in the sunshine, like the shot-off fingers of a cupped hand. Beyond, in the acres of our land that are pine and palmetto, the blasted stumps of a few trees showed; but most still stood. And the house itself unscathed. into the murky kitchen, slapping at was I went back mosquitoes, perspiring a little from the October sun and the dampness of the green-smelling morning. The kettle was hot now. I put a heaping spoonful of powdered coffee in a cup, added sugar and then cream from the still-cold but slowly defrosting refrigerator, poured the hot water, drank coffee and opened up the morning paper. Mrs. Wylie came downstairs. Ricky, we call her. She looked at me for a moment and smiled. " How did we do?" " Dandy," I said. "Just dandy!" On the morning of the day before, a friend, knowing that we rarely listened to the radio, had phoned early. She had been a little bit jeering: " You should •


1950_12_30--026_SP how to live through hurricane
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