Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I woke up this morning and turned on the news, only to hear that Hurricane Gustav has stalled over Haiti.

I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

No, I don't live in Haiti. In fact, I've never been there. I don't even know anyone there.

But I know what it's like to have a storm stalled over you.

If you have never ridden out a storm or hurricane, this is the basic blueprint: You have lots of warning. As the storm approaches, you get ready -- shutters, supplies, gasoline, whatever. Then the storm arrives and you are suddenly housebound and your uppermost thought is:

"Okay, now you're here, begone!"

Yes, as soon as the storm arrives, you wish fervently for it to leave. And, usually, it does, fairly quickly. These storms tend to move fast.

But when a storm stalls over you, as Gustav is doing in Haiti and as Fay did over us exactly a week ago, it's profoundly depressing. You had expected it to be over quickly, but instead you watch the advisories, one after another, heart sinking further with each one. When will it be over? When will we be able to go outside again? Because while the storm is overhead you are trapped and helpless. There's nothing you can do but wait.

At one point last week, the advisories had Fay moving away from us at three miles an hour. To put this in perspective, my normal walking pace is four miles an hour. I could have literally outwalked the storm.

I feel so sorry for the Haitian people, because I have some inkling of what they are suffering, and I hope Gustav is moving on as I type these words.



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