the labor day storm


Everyone I’ve talked to says they’ve never experienced a storm like the one we had on Labor Day Monday.

The guys were up and out early, before seven, to head up to the cabin and get things ready for the work on the roof to start first thing Tuesday morning.  I was alone with my coffee, enjoying the quiet.

And then the wind picked up.  Really picked up.  I stood at the living room doors to look down at the beach and realized I hadn’t taken down the umbrella and that Will’s favorite hat in the whole world, a straw hat purchased one July in New Orleans, was sitting on the grass beside the little stone patio.

So I headed downstairs to throw on some clothes and rescue the umbrella and hat.  I was on the outside stairs heading down when I heard a tree creaking in the wind.  Not a good sound!  I turned around and headed back inside as the wind began to roar louder and the power went out (thank goodness for the generator).

The next four and half hours would be spent jogging from window to window and floor to floor watching trees fall around the house, watching the umbrella fly and bounce along the beach, talking on the phone with the neighbors (one had two trees crash onto her roof as we were talking, another had a huge tree smashed onto her garage, the other had our trees and her trees come down perilously close to her cabin) and texting Will to tell him and his father to stay up in the woods until the storm was over.

“Pandemonium”, as one volunteer EMT described our peninsula.  The nearby campers at the packed federal campground had been woken by 8 am and told to run for their lives to the large open beach.  Trees fell on tents and cars and RV’s, the road out was blocked and it would take emergency crews hours to saw open the road out to the highway once the wind stopped.

By noon we came out of our houses and surveyed the damage.  Banjo Man and Will returned, having sawed themselves out of the woods.  A tree had crashed across our driveway and had taken the power lines with it.  We lost a screen on the porch, the top of a small tree (the one I assume had been creaking), and two huge trees near the water.

We were incredibly lucky.  The rest of our road looked like a tornado blew through it.  Hundreds of trees are down.  It’s a huge mess and will be for quite a while.  

That afternoon all we could hear were chainsaws and people calling to one another as they worked to remove trees.  No one could believe the damage done or that the wind had blown so hard for so many hours.

This was the view from my front window, at the start of hour 2:

Tree across the driveway.
Neighbor’s garage office is crushed.
These trees have shallow root systems.

Metal chairs, supposedly tucked safely together at the end of the dock, blew four feet in the air and into the water. Including a chaise lounge, which I watched levitate as if it was plastic.

I have a video of trees being lifted at the roots every time the wind gusted and I have been trying for almost three weeks to upload it to my computer to share with you. So far I’m still struggling to get it to work. But I’m not giving up, because in the video you can hear the wind and watch the trees finally crash down.

You can see from this photo how the root systems lifted up:

My umbrella may or may not have survived. It’s on the lower deck and I have yet to see if is damaged beyond repair. The power and the internet returned after a few days. The crews came that afternoon and sawed trees from power lines and noted each individual situation. They were amazing.

And Will’s hat? It sat on its patch of grass for five hours and never budged. We have no idea why, as the inflated toys and chairs flew up the hill and crashed into rocks and trees.

The clean up continues, although for over a week no one could do anything outside as the smoke from the California and Oregon fires descended.

We lived in an eerie world for a while.

And now? The sun is shining. It’s 39 degrees, a lovely fall morning.

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1 Response to the labor day storm

  1. Marge Fridrich says:

    How frightening! And dangerous.
    So glad no one was hurt and sounds as though neither was the house.

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