Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On This Day In 1989...

...Hurricane Hugo made its first landfall on St. Croix--the first stop in a destructive path over the mid-Atlantic cost of the United States. Hugo was a pretty big hurricane:

And like most big hurricanes, it was capable of wrecking a whole lotta buildings (especially beautiful historical buildings like St. Luke's Chapel in Charleston, because hurricanes are assholes):

And putting boats where boats don't belong:

I don't know whose beached sailing vessel that is in the above photo, but the fact that it's named Guppy seems creepily apt, given how utterly small and insignificant it clearly was before the storm's might. Also, because I'm a bad person sometimes, I couldn't help but imagine that it flopped around in the roadway and gasped for breath like a giant guppy after it was deposited there.

Hugo was a pretty expensive hurricane. Once it finished ripping through the US, it had done about 7 billion dollars' worth of damage. That made it the most expensive hurricane the United States had ever seen at the time. Here's a post-hurricane picture from (I think) Charlotte, North Carolina that emphasizes the extent of the infrastructure damage Hugo caused:

And because talking about the tragic aftermath of a terrible, destructive storm is awfully sad-making, I'll end this post with a completely irrelevant story.

When my husband and I were living in Connecticut, we were on a main road with the big, heavy-duty power cables that piped in the town's main electricity supply running along it. Those cables were mounted on utility poles similar to the ones in the picture above, but a bit taller and with more branching bits at the top to carry more wires. Those poles ran along the other side of the street from our house, but there was one pole--a bit shorter than the main ones, but just as thick and no less sturdily fixed in the ground--on the edge of our lawn. This pole held the wires that carried power to our house and the neighbor's house.

Late one night some (probably) drunk idiot plowed a car into "our" pole. Hard. I woke up to find the power out; about seven police cars clogging the road in front of the house; and on our lawn, a small-ish sedan that was going to need some extensive body work before it got back on the road, because the utility pole that used to be vertical and in the ground by the side of the road was now perfectly horizontal--and very much not in the ground--right across the mystery car's crushed-in roof.

The utility poles in the photo above made me think of that incident. Despite being recently battered by the winds of a class 5 hurricane, even though they're obviously damaged and the cables on them almost certainly aren't functioning, they're still standing. Our pole, though? Let one stupid human come along in some crappy little car, and it gets taken right to the pavement.

There's a deep, insightful metaphor in there somewhere. Or possibly a lesson about the distribution of force.

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