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1950_12_30--026_SP how to live through hurricane

WIDE WORLD During the big blow of September, 1947, a Florida power company's emergency truck pulls up at a broken pole, where high-voltage lines arc about to break. have stayed north longer! That hurricane fumbling around Jamaica is headed this way now! It's the ninth or tenth spotted this year, and I hope it misses, like the others!" We were busy. We had other plans. But the same thing was true of all the half million people that morning in South Florida: the business went undone and the plans were canceled. Ricky, like tens of thousands of other housewives, has a routine for such occasions, and I, like as many husbands, have my set chores. We tested our radio, but it didn't work. So that got priority on the list. We were warned at nine o'clock. By noon we'd had new batteries put in the radio, so it would work without its regular power supply. Our gardener, luckily on hand, by noon had spread the solid board hurricane shutters on the lawn and commenced to carry them to the proper windows. Galvanized wing nuts and washers, brass screws and heavy bolts in glass jars marked " Hurricane" had been brought down from shelves. Both cars had been filled with gasoline, for there is no way to tell, when a hurricane is hours distant, how bad it will be, and therefore how many days may pass with the power off and gasoline pumps not functioning. The extension ladder was leaning against the house. The stepladders had been carried outdoors. Ricky had shopped. The two-gallon kerosene can was full, for lamps. The can for " white " gasoline also was full, for the lantern. Extra batteries to fit sundry electric lamps and flashlights were on hand. She had stocked a fresh supply of candles, a dozen cans of solidified alcohol, powdered coffee, enough tinned staples to keep us fed without heat or ice for two weeks, if need be. People with freezer units can sometimes get dry ice to carry their produce over a period without electric power, but we have no unit. So she cooked the meat on hand. It would keep longer that way. We have a spaniel named Popcorn; there was a three-week supply of canned food for him. Ricky had also bought a half-dozen bug bombs, against the good possibility that our screens might be damaged beyond easy and early repair, so that to sleep in any comfort we would have to seal up and spray a bedroom. She'd set out raincoats and heavy boots and old towels in case of leaks just as I'd set out an ax in case of blockaded doors and fire extinguishers because of the lamps and the approaching wind. Play by Play of Approaching Storm -LIVERY two hours on the half hour, our radio U stopped playing dance music or reporting world affairs or discussing the merits of advertised goods, and we — the half million of us— were transferred to the Weather Bureau. There, a calm but urgent voice made its reports, which are called advisories and were repeated at half-hour intervals by the regular announcers on all stations—stations which, in a few more hours, largely would fall silent as their tall steel towers crashed in a roaring night. The storm, the voice would say, is at such-andsuch latitude and longitude. Then it would translate: so many miles south and east of Miami and coming north and west at ten or eleven miles an hour. Or standing still for a while over some empty, tempestuous stretch of the sea. "Planes scouting the storm report wind velocities near the center at up- ward of a hundred miles an hour. This is a small but dangerous hurricane, and all safety measures and other preparations should be rushed!" After the Weather Bureau, would come the voice of an announcer for the Red Cross. He would tell the listeners—sure of an excellent audience—what schools and other public buildings had been designated as shelters. Anybody who felt unsafe would be welcome—men, women and children, bearing their own food and water and flashlights, if they had them, but not pets. Pets were to be left behind with supplies of food and water. And expectant mothers were to be taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital; the storm might be so furious that the stork could get through, but not the doctor. People in trailers, people in rickety houses, people living near the sea and frightened by the expectation of rising tides, packed up their families in family cars or took busses to the shelters—which were opened at two in the afternoon. Some other people, listening, but oversanguine, decided to ride it out where they were. Of those, some were subsequently regretful, and at least three lost their lives. Toward one o'clock we decided to eat lunch downtown. The commercial buildings were already boarded up. But it seemed to us that Miami's prehurricane overture of hammers pounding wasn't loud enough in the residential sections. Perhaps the storms had called " wolf " and missed Miami too often that year. Or perhaps that word "small" sounded more cogent to many householders than the familiar word "dangerous." Most people with homes, at any rate, weren't doing much. But the boat owners were taking precautions. The city's many drawbridges went up and down as yachts, fishing cruisers, houseboats, (Continued on Page 43 )


1950_12_30--026_SP how to live through hurricane
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