Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike takes out New Albany. Details at 11.

I witnessed the '74 tornado, and the '95 tornado, the '94 blizzard and the '95 flood. I never thought I'd witness a hurricane.

Especially living in the mid-west.

Ike lost no steam as he charged into the Ohio Valley Sunday.

We had a photo shoot scheduled at noon the Mansion for Haunted House promo pictures. Just as I pulled out of my driveway on my way over, my cell phone rings the familiar tune for Mansion people. It's "J2," one of the staff, on the other end.

"Are you still coming out today to take pictures?"

"Yeah, I just literally left my driveway."

"You DO know we've got all kinds of winds and tornadoes heading this way."

I'm looking at clear skies with bright sun and a slightly stronger-than-normal breeze. "Yeah... so? We're gonna be inside the Carriage House. We'll be fine."

"Well, just be careful coming over here."

The drive was uneventful. A little breezy, but not dangerous. The Focus weaved a little but even on the bridges I was okee dokee.

I get to the Mansion with no incidents, apart from one tree down on the opposite side of the interstate. There's a stronger gust on this side of the river but the sun is still shining. I go inside the Mansion and wait for our photographer (Nicograph) and our models to show up. One by one our people arrive unscathed.

But the wind is getting a little stronger outside.

After about 45 minutes all our models have their creepy make-up and costumes on and we're ready to start shooting. That's when one of the staff runs in to tell us we lost our tent.
We've had this tent since 1992. It has shielded Haunted House visitors, served as a dining area, housed Herb Sales and numerous other outdoor events for 16 years.
It was exciting, frightening and saddening to watch it wrap itself around those two oaks.
So now we have no tent.
And Haunted House opens in less than 2 weeks.
While we're all marveling at the tent fiasco, my eye catches the severe angle some of the trees are being blown to. Especially one tree about 10 feet from me that is slowly separating from the ground. After several bounces, it goes right over. Right onto two vehicles. One of which is Nicograph's car.The truly amazing thing is, it was completely undamaged. Not a scratch. The other car was unharmed, too. Looks like the wires and the iron fence kept it up. People are now frantically moving their cars to open areas as we continue to watch trees and powerlines crack and fall all around, not to mention roofs and shingles flying everywhere.

We shoo our photo subjects into the Carriage House and get locked in. We have to. If we don't lock the doors the wind will rip them right off the frames. I was dumb enough to try opening a door once, just to see how the world outside looked like at the moment. I almost got blown away. One of our actors had to grab me and the door and pull us back inside.

We spend a couple of hours inside taking pictures, listened to the wind beat the living hell out of the House, hoping there's no more serious damage being done to anything outside.

By the time we finish, the wind is slowly dying down. We emerge to what looks like a war zone. A few young trees in our backyard are snapped in half or completely uprooted. Several houses and churches on the street have trees laying on their roofs or actually in the building. Looking toward one of the major bridges back to Louisville we see a semi on its side, blocking the entire east bound side.

So much for going home that way.

We wait about another hour for the winds to die down enough that we feel safe driving and Nicograph and I head out. We both made it home ok. Nicograph came home to a centuries-old tree that crashed into her condo building and took out a couple of cars, too. Had her car been in its assigned parking spot, it would have been toast.

Looks like those New Albany trees are much more considerate.

So now there's over 200,000 people in the area with no power. Hundreds of traffic lights are still out. Driving around town is still an adventure, between dodging downed trees and people who don't know the failed-stoplight/four-way-stop rule.

The most amazing thing is... during this whole fiasco, the Mansion kept power the whole time. So did my home neighborhood. I kept calling the Spouse to check in. He said he heard trees crashing all around the neighborhood but our little cul de sac was unharmed.

Unfortunately, neither did our respective workplaces. While other people are staying hoe because of the city-wide power outage, we're stuck at work. (Note: while I was writing this at work, the power went out - yay for Blogger's autosave. We waited about two hours before the higher-ups sent us home. We have to call in tomorrow to see if we're running on juice before coming in.)

But on the good news front, the Mansion still stands without a scratch. And the centuries-old magnolia and oaks in their backyard survived. The rest of New Albany looks like a hurricane hit it.

But we don't get hurricanes. Not this far inland. No way. That's just crazy.


KD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KD said...

If I had to be in a hurricane, I'm glad I was with you :)

Hehe, just a little H-day '08 humor :P
(I had another joke, but after posting, I realized it wuddn't so funny.)