Surviving the storm

By Jean Brody

Have you ever lived through a hurricane? I have, and I’d like to tell you about it.

My family lived on St. Simons Island, a beautiful, pretty much undeveloped paradise.

Our house sat on the white soft sand of the Atlantic Ocean and every high tide rippled the salty waves almost to its front porch. In fact, on the backside of our framed house was the one main paved road on the island and in front was the ocean.

I was about five-years-old when a hurricane came. My little brother, Bill, was three.

We owned one car that my daddy drove off the island to work every day. My mother had to walk everywhere she went, and I remember it as the perfect world for us.

One day, the radio announced a tropical storm was headed straight for St. Simon’s island. By the time we were told to evacuate, the one and only bridge to the mainland was underwater. In short, we could not leave and my daddy and the car could not get to us.

It wasn’t long when the forecast flipped from tropical storm to hurricane. My mother realized she was stuck in a wood-frame house on the beach with two little children, a dog and no husband or car. She was a nervous wreck, and not her sweet fun-loving self while Bill cried and I danced with excitement from window to window to see as much as possible.

The way the waves crashed higher and higher, closer and closer to our house absolutely knocked me out with joy. Oh, how I wanted to go outside to feel the salt and sand sting my legs.

I literally tried to go out but my mother threatened my life if I so much as opened the door or window.

I remember while looking out the front window, seeing a buoy that had been dislodged from its mooring way out in the channel. It came floating free in front of our house. Also, and the last straw for my mother, was watching a part of a house from down the street float by. Now, everybody was crying, even the dog howled, everybody but me.

Shoot! I had just seen the first waves rush under our porch and house. All I could think of was what would be left under there when the hurricane subsided.

All kinds of shells, sea life, seaweed, parts of piers and various children’s toys would be there for me to go through, play with and dream about. I couldn’t even tell my mother what was filling my brain because I had the feeling she wouldn’t understand.

I recalled whispering to Bill that I would take him under the house when it was over.

Well, finally the wind stopped howling, the house stopped shaking like a leaf about to fall from the tree but hung on through it all. I watched the waves retreat. I wanted to see them return to the roiling sea so while mother rested, Bill and I with the dog could jump off the front porch and spend hours under our wood frame house on the stilts going through many enchanting treasures to examine and enjoy.

You know something? Writing this, I realized how little I have changed from that little girl to now. Still, I would not be scared, and still I would love to go through the sea gifts left to us. To this very day, one of my most beloved things to do is walk the beach, run the sand through my toes and watch the tide rise and fall and dream of memories of growing up on an island.

By the way, as soon as the bridge connecting the island to the mainland of Brunswick, Georgia, was passable, my daddy dashed to be with us and assured himself that we were OK.

Actually, mother was a little worse for wear dealing with a five-year-old headstrong little girl who she didn’t trust one little bit.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.