Remembering Hurricane Opal

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 25, 2003

It dawned on me last weekend that the anniversary date for Hurricane Opal's visit through the area came and went without any fanfare.

Why should we remember such storms as Opal?

To know to get the heck out of Dodge the next time one roars through.

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The weather reports continued to worsen with each new update.

I hastily packed a bag and left my quaint little shoebox apartment near the Troy State campus.

There was a "Big Momma" hurricane about to slam into Florida's panhandle, so bad that the most trusted man in America, Tom Brokaw, had to fly down to weather it, and I just wondered if we were going overboard.

I think when I heard that Dan Rather was also there; I began to root for Opal.

"Take him out big girl," I thought.

(Remember, this was his sweater vest phase.)

This was supposed to be a regular day.

School was out because it was the middle of the quarter and I was going to sleep late and do nothing all day but cower in a corner.

Instead, I found myself taking three hours to drive from Troy to Greenville.

Yes, traffic was indeed that bad.

When I got home, The Weather Channel hiccupped early in the afternoon and started beeping with warnings of fast winds, tornadoes, and torrential rain. I thought how sad for those people in the coastal region.

That's when I flipped the channel to a local station and dear Lord; they were saying the same thing, except they were talking about our area.

"Mom, where is the nearest evacucation route?" I asked.

She was running, gathering fruits and berries to take into our storm room.

I was in her bedroom trying to pull her king-size mattress out into the hallway.

It was a heavy one and I began to ponder whom I would have to kick out from under it when the fur began to fly.

My sister's hours were now limitedl.

As the day progressed, rain really began to fall and the wind began to howl.

This was it.

I was going to be killed in a hurricane and what really aggravated me was the fact I did not live at the beach.

What's the fun in expiring in the hurricane if you're up in central Alabama?

They don't remember you there.

My mom said to fill the bathtub and I thought to myself how chilly it would be when I climbed into that tub with that king size mattress thrown over me.

We listened to horror stories about people trading off their children for the last package of salt pork and surely the last gallon of gas that would ever come out of the Middle East.

We stood firm.

My mom believes in being prepared, and I knew her freezers were full of things she could whip up, unless the house left its spot.

Surely if the house went, the stove might survive.

As I lugged the mattress into place, a thought occurred to me, what were all those folks with waterbeds going to do while I soaked in a tub with a Beautyrest mattress over me?

I rather felt sorry for them.

Shortly thereafter, I looked out the front door and saw a woman who could only be described as a witch.

I was holding my little furry dog, Zelda, when the witch bellowed, "I'm going to get you my pretty and your little dog too."

That was my cue. I moved to fill up the tub.

It was time to take cover.

However, I did toss Zelda at the witch.

Self-preservation always dictates that you have someone or something to throw at the monster to keep it occupied while you make your escape.

That witch never found me under that soggy mattress, and I promised the next time I would leave town.

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 136 or via email at