He was coming.
He was coming fast.
He was coming to pay us a visit.
A brooding, lethal monster 30 miles out.
He was coming straight at us
and nothing or no one could stop him
Our house was on the back bay of Biloxi,
a short distance from the beach
so we evacuated twenty miles inland
to a friend’s brick house in the woods
I was afraid, yet fascinated
Curious, an irresistible urge
drew me outside to watch
as he began his attack.
The first gusts were like a late summer breeze,
calm, stronger, calm, stronger, stronger
but the trees seemed familiar with that
bending, swaying and springing back upright
As the gusts blew in more powerful and threatening
they seemed a little unsettled and alarmed.
Their leaves were getting stripped and scattered
By five o’clock they were fighting for their lives
The older, stiffer trees were crackling and snapping
while the younger, more limber and flexible ones
were bending violently almost to the ground with each blow
then not back upright as before because the reflex action
and momentum sent them halfway back the other direction.
By nightfall there were no more gusts.
He came chugging in howling and screaming,
roaring and raging, shaking our foundations
with winds clocked at 135-140 MPH.
I timidly (and foolishly) slipped back out.
I could not have heard myself scream...
For the rest of the night we huddled together
in the kitchen with candles and a transistor radio.
Windows shattered and blew out.
Part of the roof was ripped off.
Next morning it took all day to cut our way back home
Roads clogged with timber; the whole forest broken and uprooted
We came upon what at first looked like a new-cut firebreak,
a swath maybe fifty yards wide and five hundred yards long
We stood there kind of gawking at each other then realized
it was where one of his mighty spawns had touched down…
The power was out for two weeks
There was a dip in the road where a stream flooded
This is where we took our baths
The whole neighborhood met there
armed with bar soap, washrags and towels
Actually, it was quite pleasant and enjoyable
sitting contentedly, letting the cool water
flow over us while we gossiped with our friends
Pascagoula, MS and the Alabama coast
bore the brunt of Mother Nature's fury.
One of the giant cranes at Ingalls Shipbuilders
toppled over and crashed in the water.
Biloxi was in the western quadrant and got only wind and rain
Later I heard some life-long residents say
this was a minor nuisance compared to ten years earlier
when Camille made landfall…
*Hurricane Fredrick - September 12, 1979