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An air of danger
September 18, 2008 - Rob Weaver
I gained some interesting perspectives over the weekend while attending motorcycle races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Over lunch Saturday (the lone nice day of the event) I struck up a conversation with a couple from Pensacola, Fla. They had driven up the day before in one 12-hour slog, the latter part of it through rain. I asked them about surviving tropical storms and hurricanes.
The couple noted they'd fled two such storms recently, then quickly added that the wind and rain aren't the worst part.
“It's waiting for days for the electricity to come back on,” the woman said. “And waiting in lines for water and gasoline.”
“That gets old really quick,” her husband said.
The next day, remnants of Hurricane Ike passed through the Midwest. I was seated in the Northwest Vista section at Indy, because the wind was out of the north early in the afternoon. As the 40-50 mph wind shifted to the west — driving rain along with it — watching the race (yes, the MotoGP riders still were out on the track) became a painful experience. The wind, gusting to 60 mph, and rain eventually turned and came out of the south, and the race was halted. Good thing, too, because I'd have needed my full-face helmet to observe the contest.
The next day, on the way home, I gained another perspective on the storm. Damage from the high winds was widespread. I followed U.S. 40 eastward, and residents in every town, city and village along the old National Road were dealing with downed trees, branches and limbs. Every other locale along the way was without electrical service — my clutch hand got quite a workout while I stopped at every intersection — and most schoolkids had the day off.
This scene was repeated passed Richmond, Ind., into the Springfield area and northward along U.S. 68. By the time I reached Upper Sandusky, most storm debris had been piled along the curb.
Sure, up north we have to deal with snow, ice and potholes. But I really wouldn't want to live through the constant threat of tropical storms.
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