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October 12, 1962

Dhut…Dhut…dhut-dhut-dhut-dhut… Is that gunfire? It sounded like…not far away.

Dhut!…Dhut!…dhut-dhut-dhut-dhut! That sounded like…from the lane! I jumped up to the window. Soldiers!

What? Camo-clad soldiers were advancing toward the park! Terrified! Inhaling in short bursts. A jet fighter rockets past, over the schoolyard! Heart racing!

 in the lane behind my house
A/P photo Jim MacMillan (cryptome)

I wake up, startled, eyes wide open, heart still pounding. Middle of the night. Suddenly;
Dhut-Dhut-Dhut…Dhut-Dhut! The sound of branches hitting the window! Furiously, the winds howling!

Hurricane Frieda had come aground and a once quiet residential neighbourhood has become a battlefield!

A loud crack! Next door, a giant evergreen snaps in the ferocity, and heads straight for the house. Sparks fly into madness as it takes out the power lines enroute to demolishing the nieghbours deck. Corrugated roof panels sail past the window. Their daughters, Diane and Darlene screaming and crying at the terror!

Neighbour helping neighbour, desperation, to be heard above all, to make safe, as best they could, still… Frieda kicks around lawn furniture, wheel barrows, garbage cans, like an angry and spoiled child. Dhut-Dhut-Dhut…Dhut! Another window pane cracks!

“Geordie wake- up!” I whisper loudly to the upper bunk. “Whaaa..?”   “There’s a hurricane!” I whisper again. “Nothin’s gonna happen….go back to sleep” “How do you know?” I insist. “Cuz I’m 8 and your 5…I know all kinds of stuff you don’t know yet” he slurred into his pillow…and with that, my brother drifted off .

I could not sleep. All the commotion. I Got dressed quickly, wearing only pajamas felt too vulnerable. I wanted to be ready. Though wary,I  couldn’t stay away from the window. The lights flicker, then… out. Darkness.

The worst of her past, though, still blustery, is my last memory, prior to waking up to chain saws buzzing by the park. Yellow lights flashing against the gray twilight sky. A sky that still looked angry, a sky moving quickly overhead.

Parents’ bedroom door: closed. I do not go in, or knock. I slip downstairs, jacket and boots, on. Quietly, out the basement door, as not to wake anyone and disrupt my determination to satisfy my curiosity.

City crews were clearing fallen trees and branches from roadways. The electric company crews repair downed lines. Backyard content, debris, absent patterns, scattered randomly, completely and perfectly randomly. Every kind of thing, strewn every kind of place. keeping clear of danger, taking long ways around, finally reaching Elwell Street, the edge of the park. Here I could see the full wrath of Frieda. A rain forest apocalypse. Hundreds of evergreens and other trees, uprooted, snapped in half, criss-crossed over one another.

Trees downed by Hurricane Frieda (Columbus Day Storm)
Photo by jonboi flickr creative commons

 

We used to play in this forest. All the neighbourhood kids would  Hide and seek here . Trees, stumps, logs, bushes, “Ok! I give up!” seekers would shout. “Here I am!” Hiders would shout and emerge from their squirreled holes to take over the seekers role.  This… was perhaps my first encounter with a heavy heart.

Bradley and Calvin, then Dave Somerset, soon others show up, curious to see what everything looked like. All with dark rings under our eyes. Climbing in, out, and around the jungle gym our fallen forest friends had created. A huge tow truck arrived to move a clump of trees across the intersection at Elwell and 1st. We all gathered to watch. A teen, who lived across the street, Kenny Crenna, had been surveying the scene announced prophetically; “things will never be the same around here”.

Not sure why… dread?… An intuition?  I welled up.  Unexplainable at the time. But this hurricane brought more destruction than that before our eyes. Frieda set into motion changes, and that night was the beginning of a twelve year downward spiral in the life of John Tkhaos.

What happens to John after hurricane Frieda? You’ll find out over the next few posts! Thanks for reading.

Jay Davis

 

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8 thoughts on “Episode 1: Hurricane Frieda

  1. Good story. Need to know more about John’s twelve year spiral. Is there a sequel?

  2. Can’t wait to read what happens next!

  3. I love your writing style! You really take people ‘there’, ya know? :)

  4. I love your writing style! You really take people ‘there’, ya know? :)

  5. Loved your story! I lived near Vancouver BC when this hurricane hit. I was 8 years old. I had just gotten off the bus and had to walk a long road with with deep ditches on both sides of it. There were other kids too (I think we were coming back from Catechism classes). I heard a loud bang and then the wind came up so suddenly and was blowing us off our feet. Some kids got blown into the ditches and the bigger boys went in to save them, and told the rest of us to lay down on the road. So we did. Before very long, the army men came to pick us up. (We lived on an army base). I’ll never forget that day as long as I lived. It must have been the most terrifying in all my life! Not sure where you lived that it was the middle of the night, but for us it was sometime during the day, probably morning.

  6. I significantly delight in your posts. Thanks

  7. The current controversy over Maria and Puerto Rico reminds me of my experience with Frieda as a 12 year old. The paper that morning said we had been spared “the tail end of a hurricane.”. When it had stalled off the mouth of the Columbia River and intensified. The air was strangely calm but might as I walked home from school. A block from home I looked up. What I saw was frightening. ….the clouds were crossing the sky at enormous speed. I ran the rest of the way home and yelled for my Dad. “You’ve got to see this!”. Within minutes the sky ” fell” and began ripping 40-year-old chestnut trees out of the ground like falling dominoes.. Streets were absolutely impassible. The national guard showed up with tanks and heavy chains and within a week cleared the roads. I can’t help thinking tanks could have been used in the same way in Puerto Rico if only the Commander in Chief hadn’t been playing golf or searching for some kitten to pet.

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