From Pine View Farm

Hurricanes 0

Pine View Farm has seen many hurricanes. The first section of the house was built in 1912 and, though not on the Gulf Coast, it’s on the East Coast in a favorite path of storms working their way north in along the coast.

I remember two vividly. Hazel, whose eye crossed from the Atlantic to the Chesapeake, then turned around and came back, and Donna.

Pine View Farm is not on the coast–it’s about a half a mile walking east through the pines until you start to see wetlands, then marshlands. Then there is a network of channels and barrier islands (unlike New Orleans, where development and drainage and flood control has stripped away the natural protection from the sea) before you reach the Atlantic itself.

So storm surge and flooding were not an issue there, but in nearby towns–watering towns where persons made their living fishing, oystering, and crabbing–right on the water, the storms left 35-foot fishing boats in person’s backyards.

We never left home for a storm–you see, the main thing to fear in a hurricane is water, and we were too far from the water. But the wind–those who have not sat in a house, dark because the electricity went out long ago, and listened to the wind and watched it bend the trees cannot understand the power of these storms. It’s one thing to joke about reporters flying from flagpoles. It’s quite another to see trees bend in ways trees are not meant to bend.

After Donna, it took a week for the power company to restore electricity. My father dug a well and installed a pitcher pump so we could have water. Cooked meals were prepared on the barbecue furnace he had built in the side yard.

Come to think of it, it’s the last time we ever cooked out.

Not since Donna has a hurricane made landfall at full strength along the mid-Atlantic coast.

In the years since then, all along the Atlantic seaboard, housing has sprung up along beaches and waterfronts. A drive down the Outer Banks of North Carolina reveals many, many new condos and beach homes perched in the sand. Houses built on sticks.

One day soon, in this period of hurricane activity, they will suffer the same fate as the homes along the Gulf Coast.


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