Irene, Ivan’s little sister

Hurricane Irene made landfall this morning in North Carolina. She is a category 1 storm, a mere kitten among lions like Ivan, Andrew, Hugo, and Gilbert. But big cities have much to lose at the playful hands of kittens as New Orleans is likely to testify.

Every time August ends and September begins I sense a tiny change in my psyche. Something akin to PTSD. A deepened vigilance. It is the gentle grandchild of the terror of 2004, the year I thought my whole family would die at the hands of Hurricane Ivan. It is 2011 and I still don’t have the fortitude to be able to write about it in detail – the tearing apart of my grandmother’s house as she made corned beef sandwiches in the kitchen, the sight of people swimming to shelter at the hospital where I was tied together with rope and carrying young children, the floating cars, the twisters tearing off roofs. Ivan was a Cat5 or a Cat4 – no one is quite sure because all instruments on island broke under his fists.

But that is another tale for another, stronger, time. My islands are the most hurricane prone land statistically than anywhere else in the Atlantic. The time will come for those stories.

But today giants are bracing for Irene the kitten. Ivan’s little sister is on track to New York, Washington DC, Connecticut – places more accustomed to snow storms. Down south the people are always ready, always strong, and a Cat 1 will knock down a few trees and change only a few lives. How prepared are the people of the North?

Today my prayers are with them. My friends, my cousins, my colleagues and my readers. I am certain this will be much gentler than Katrina but the unprepared mind may feel it more deeply.

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