Disasterous Adventures

Hurricane Isabelle

The Rude Guide to Surviving a Hurricane

(Or Hurricane Adventures for Blondes)

October, 2003

When Hurricane Isabelle rolled around in October, 2003 we thought we were prepared: we had candles, food, and firewood stacked up. We had hoped to have the backup generator in place and ready to go, but unfortunately it hadn't arrived yet. The day before the hurricane, we hurriedly stuffed outside equipment under the deck and "bottoned down the hatches". Our only concern was the Pip Squeak, the little 4 week old undersize orphan kitten that still needed to be fed every 3 hours, and kept warm.

The morning of the hurricane started out rainy, but not too bad. We had twelve cats and kittens scheduled for spay/neuter surgeries, and the vets were willing to do the surgeries so we dropped them off at the clinic and settled in to wait for the storm. The wind picked up mid afternoon... right about the time the dos got really bored and wanted to go out and play.

The vet clinic called and said all the surgeries were done but they would hold the furballs overnite because of the rain. Around 4 o'clock things got a little hairy -- the cable went out. About an hour later the power went out. That's when we started thinking we should have started on the generator project a little earlier.

We made it through the night unscathed, although we could hear the wind and rain blowing through the trees. By morning it seemed the most damage was a few tree limbs in the yard and the neighbors had one tree down (of course that tree did land across the road, meaning to get in or out of our street, people took a short detour across our yard.

Although the electricity was out, and on a good day we have limited cell phone reception, we discovered the old fashioned phones still worked (yes, we still had a phone that had a cord to connect it to the wall) We started checking in with people to see how people in other parts of the area fared. Apparently we were one of the few houses with an old fashioned phone.

Our next concern was keeping the Pip Squeak warm -- we didn't have the option of "nuking" a water bottle for her, so we started up the car and put the heater on full blast with the kitten under the vent. At least she seemed to enhoy the blow dryer effect.

One the Pipper was fed and snuggled in we set off to pick up the furballs that spent the night at the clinic. We got out of our neighborhood with out too much trouble, however getting to the main roads made us feel like the proverbial mouse in a maze. Trees were down across power lines and roads all over the area. We slowly made our way towerd the clinic until we got to "The Bridge".

This bridge is a narrow, spooky creepy one lane bridge over the Patuxent River in the middle of dark creepy woods. Local legends call it the Goatman Bridge. We just call it the Creepy Bridge.

The Creepy Bridge
The problem with the Creepy Bridge is not that the bridge itself floods, but the road at the end of the bridge floods out usually after 4 drops of rain. Hurricane Isabelle certainly dropped more rain than that. Sure enough although the Bridge itself was above water most of the road on the other side wasn't. While Bob had driven through the flooded areas many times in the past, this time it looked much deeper than normal. I was about to voice (yell) my concerns about this when Bob decided to "go for it" and floored it.

We made it about 10 feet across before the water started coming into the car through the air vents. Momentum got us maybe another 2 feet. At that point it wasn't looking good that we would make it the rest of the way across, which was another 30 feet. We also knew it would be another 50 feet before we had cell phone reception. As bleak as it was, we figured at least we aren't floating down the river. Then it happened, our 4,000 pound heavy weight Chevy Suburban started floating down the river. At least there was a slight hope of floating to the other side and getting out at the next road crossing about a mile down the river.

The Side of the Bridge We Wanted to Be On