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.
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
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!
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.
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 ?).
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?
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,