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Special Section~Isabel 2003
Dealing With Isabel in Northern Virginia
By Kay Hearton

     On Wednesday night, after following the path of Isabel on the Weather Channel for three days, I decided to linger at home in Lottsburg and tough it out. In fact, I was determined to hang out, but John, my youngest son who lives in Charleston, called and commanded me to either fly down there or drive up to Northern Virginia and stay with Kathy, my oldest daughter. He even called Tom, his brother who lives in Denver, who in turn called me, and said that if I was bent on staying at home, not to stand by any windows as a shard might blow in and cut my jugular (a bit of applied psychology on his part). Then, John's two little girls, Sarah and Rachael, called me and cried as they pleaded with me over the phone insisting that I go to Aunt Kathy’s so I wouldn’t get hurt.  John called again and said, "I just put two inconsolable little girls to bed_please get out of there so they can go to sleep.” Grandchildren always know which buttons to push. So at 10 P.M., Wednesday night, I drove up to Kathy's.

     I breezed through all the little southeastern Virginia towns along the way and found them almost empty of people and cars. Even Fredericksburg was devoid of activity, and everything was closing down at approximately 11:30 P.M. Route  95 North  seemed spooky,  like a ghost town_hardly any traffic_only a few big trucks lined up at their weigh stations. 

     I arrived at Kathy’s around Midnight, and after doing The Washington Post Crossword Puzzle, leaped into bed. Thursday morning was uneventful except for preparing for the hurricane, i.e., filling bathtubs with water, bringing in outside furniture, and sheltering the animals.  

     The power shut down around mid-afternoon, and Kathy began making hot and sour soup on a butane stove while we could still open the windows and ventilate the kitchen. I told her not to go to so much trouble and just give each of us a bowl of cereal. But she said, “Sorry, Mom, we do disasters in style here.”

     After dinner, the grandchildren, Kathryn, Michael, Anna and I sat around the kitchen table and played cards and painted pictures by candles and flashlights. Around 9 P.M., Kathy made sleeping arrangements for the children and me in their walkout basement bedrooms where we wouldn’t be in danger should a tree fall on the house. The hurricane railed and flailed all night making sleep impossible, but come morning the only calamities we found were two ancient uprooted pine trees that had landed on Kathy's creek. No damage had been done to the house, but at this writing, they still have no electric power. In fact, many in Fairfax County are powerless. 
On Friday, I drove back to the Neck  and discovered that numerous power lines had been pulled down by falling trees. Most of the destruction was on Route 202. Riding through Callao, I noticed that the roof over the gas pumps at the Shell station had blown over. Upon arriving at home on the Coan River, I found my dock covered with water and noticed that two aluminum siding framing strips had blown off the house and landed in my front yard. Other than that, my neighbors and I squeaked by without direct hit casualties, and thanks to Northern Neck Electric, we had power by Friday morning.  But best of all, I lived to see the sun come up another day.

     I welcomed a lot of company on Sunday afternoon. Friends and relatives came by to fill their containers with water and their chests with ice. Most stayed for a visit and a bowl of Cajun Gumbo that I cooked up in my cauldron for the occasion. I enjoyed their spontaneous visits. Sometimes it takes a hurricane to draw people together for convivial fellowship. 

© 2003 Kay Hearton All Rights Reserved


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