The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the local film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  September 2000
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  BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
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  I just survived my first hurricane. Okay, I'll admit it, it was a small hurricane, really. Nothing at all like the great gusty storms of recent years, like Luis and Lenny, but it sure gave me a taste of what a larger storm might bring!
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  The day before little Debby arrived, life was a little strange around here. Lots of people were glued to their internet screens (a large improvement over the days when the only information arrived here by radio) and you could clearly see a large tropical depression heading right for Saint-Barth. Short of moving the island to a better location, it was time to batten down the hatches. Tourists were going to the beach as usual, but they were greeted with island residents trying to get their boats out of the water. In Corossol, this was almost a comedy of errors with one boat sliding repeatedly up and down the boat slip behind a jeep, and then a pick-up truck came along to help pull the jeep pull the boat, and the group of men trying to help swelled from two to almost twenty as everybody wanted to get into the act.
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  My daughter and grand-daughter had just arrived from the States for their annual 10-day August visit, and we wondered whether they should turn around and go right back home, or weather the storm. But the vote was unanimous. "We're not leaving," they chimed in unison. So, we gathered extra flashlights, batteries, cases of water and cat food, and assorted people food that could be eaten without cooking (who wants to cook in the dark even if we have gas burners on the stove?). The scene at JoJo's supermarket in Lorient was almost comical as people piled carts full of everything that wasn't nailed down. But what were they planning to do with 40 bagettes? To get ready for any eventuality, we put an extra mattress on the floor of the studio that has a kitchen and bathroom inside.... all of our other rooms open directly to the outside and are not recommended for hurricane shelters (who knew ?).
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  When the winds really began whipping through at around 2:00am, we were all in the same room. Three adults, one child, and two cats.... the third cat was missing in action at that point. The other two, being nature cats, were amused by our efforts to take care of their every comfort and checked out the sand-filled trash-can with the usual feline curiosity. When the calm of the eye passed over the island at 5:00am, we opened the door and cats number one and two headed out to freedom (we found them hunkered down in the car in the garage ready for breakfast in the morning).... and cat number three showed up to join us for the remainder of the high winds. By 8:00am things were pretty much over, and the most amazing thing of all is that my daughter and her daughter, fresh from eight weeks of overnight camp, were so exhausted they actually slept through the whole shooting match. Hurricane, what hurricane?
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  Fortunately there was no structural damage to the island this time around, but the National Hurricane Center has forecast that 14 storms will reach hurricane force winds. Debby was only number four. But as my friend Diana so cleverly said, "let's hope the others get a new travel agent and go someplace else this year."

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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