Eye on Ivan
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Anita Lee, The Sun Herald's Harrison County reporter, files this first-person account from today's activity:
Ivan trumpeted his arrival on the beach in Biloxi by 2 p.m. Wednesday. The water looked unnatural, coursing westerly and heaving up surf in the Mississippi Sound, normally tamer waters. A few sightseers walked the sand alongside an otherwise barren beach highway.
You see the oddest things when the threat of a killer storm heightens your senses. An Oleander swayed like a dancer beside the seawall.
A threesome walked along the surf with an Irish wolfhound. Where they came from and where they would go remains a mystery.
I was headed to an American Red Cross Shelter at Jeff David Elementary School, safely north of the beach in Biloxi, where I plan to stay until Ivan moves north.
First, I went to check the house. We live less than two blocks from the beach in Biloxi, so I'm very apprehensive about a hurricane this powerful. It looks like the tidal surge might miss us, although we did haphazardly stack some furniture aboveground Tuesday night. And I do mean haphazardly.
We turned an antique oak desk upside down and balanced it atop two kitchen chairs. Other valuables we piled on the beds.
In these situations, people find that family photos are their most precious possessions. We wrapped ours in plastic and put them on a closet shelf, hoping the water oak beside the house would not damage the roof. You can do only so much to fend off nature.
One of my most precious items I brought with me to the shelter. It is a microcassette tape. I've got it wrapped in a sandwich bag in my purse, here beside me in the shelter. On it is my mother's voice when she called to wish me happy birthday July 11. She died unexpectedly eight days later. But I still have her voice, crackling over her cellphone she insisted on using because the minutes were unlimited.
The Red Cross shelters are above flood levels. All bets are off if a tornado heads our way. But for now, pople are napping, listening to gospel music from a boom box, drinking coffee, playing cards, passing time. It is 4 p.m. now, at least nine or so hours before Ivan, which I last heard would come in shortly after midnight.
Two members of the Mississippi National Guard have just arrived and a Biloxi police officer is here with us, too. So we are, I suppose, as safe as anyone can claim to be.
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