Gut Rumbles

December 12, 2007

Hurricane opal

Originally published September 17, 2004

I've been reading some posts from bloggers in north Georgia about the effects of Hurricane Ivan on them. These people are 400 miles from the Florida coast and they STILL got a scary dose of the storm. I feel their pain. I was staying at Blood Mountain Cabins in October of 1995 when Opal roared through there.

Jennifer and I went into Helen the morning before the storm hit. She wanted to shop for souvenirs and I wanted to drink beer. A place called "The Wurst Haus" has a nice, covered biergarten, so that's where I stayed with Quinton while my wife went shopping. A drizzling rain had been falling all day and I liked the biergarten because they had nice, dark beer and a covered place for Quinton to burn up some energy running around without getting wet.

I hadn't paid any attention to the news for days. (That's back before George put satellite TV in the cabins.) Some people in the biergarten told me about Opal and I listened to the news on the radio while we were driving back to the cabin. The storm was headed our way after it made landfall. "We should stop and buy some candles and a couple of flashlights," I suggested. "We probably won't need them, but it's better to be safe than sorry."

Man, those were famous last words. We stopped and bought our hurricane supplies with me telling Jennifer all along, "By the time it gets up here, it won't be anything other than a minor windstorm. We can handle that." I forgot about the fact that the cabins are at 3,000 feet in the mountains.

Some people who read this blog have SEEN Blood Mountain cabins. Imagine waking up at 4:00 in the morning with the entire cabin rocking on its stilted legs. Imagine hearing the wind howl in the trees like a banshee with its ass on fire. Imagine hearing what you first thought were gunshots in the woods until you realized that it was the sound of trees snapping off at the trunk.

Jennifer and I were sleeping in the cabin loft. I went downstairs and checked on Quinton. He was out like a light, which was fitting because all the electricity was off in the cabin. I then went to the sliding glass door that led to the deck and put my hand against it. I could feel that sucker BREATHING!

I am NOT making this up. Every time another howling wind rocked the cabin, I could feel the glass BEND with the force. I opened the door and stepped out onto the deck. I shined my flashlight straight up into the air and saw tree limbs the size of my LEG sailing horizontally through the air over the cabin and occassionally banging on the roof like thunder.

That shit lasted for six hours. Trees fell all over the place and hit three of the cabins, all unoccupied at the time. We survived, but it was a frightening experience because there is no "off" switch for that stuff. It goes on as long as it wants to.

George didn't get power back to the cabins for nine days after that. No power means no water in the cabins. Quinton wasn't two years old at the time, so we couldn't stay there and rough it with HIM on board. We also couldn't LEAVE until late that afternoon because all the roads were blocked with fallen trees.

Opal was a tropical storm when it raped and pillaged at Blood Mountain. Ask me NOW why I fear hurricanes.

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