Hurricane Memories

Since Saturday was the first day of hurricane season, it seems like the perfect opportunity to recount an experience I had more than a decade ago. I was reminded of the event last year. As Hurricane Isaac approached the Louisiana coast last summer, I received an email from Tom asking if it all seemed familiar. Strangely enough for a California girl, I actually have a hurricane story.

NASA Photo of Isaac
Have I mentioned lately how much I respect the work of NASA?

Back in 2000, one of my cousins in New Orleans was getting married, and I decided to fly out for the ceremony. As the wedding day drew nearer, I kept watching the weather reports because a hurricane kept inching closer and closer to the city.

The wedding was beautiful, and I had a wonderful time catching up with family members who I hadn’t seen in years.

The next morning we woke up and the news showed that the hurricane was expected to hit that afternoon. We had a morning flight, so we figured all was okay. We were wrong. Over night they closed the airport. After a few tense phone calls, Ma was able to find a rental car company that would rent us a car and allow us to turn it in in another state. I called and got a flight out of Birmingham instead, but they charged me a hefty fee. I needed to leave, so I paid for it.

We got the car and started our drive up to the Birmingham airport. Later we found out that they closed the bridges to the city only an hour or two after we left!

Finally we reached the Birmingham airport. Tom suggested I go up to the ticket counter to try and get my fee refunded. I was tired and no longer cared, but I listened and went up to the smiling lady. Between deep sighs, I explained my situation, that we’d just driven from New Orleans to escape the hurricane, and that when I rescheduled my flight they charged me a fee, which I paid because I had no choice.  The woman looked at me with pitying eyes and apologized that a person on staff would have done that to someone in such a perilous situation. She gladly refunded my money. I came back smiling, no longer trying to figure out how I would have paid that bill.

It turns out the storm missed the city, leaving a lot of rain and some wind, but no damage. The drive was worth it, though: we got home the day we were intended to and ended up with a good story as a result.

Do you have a hurricane story? or Have you successfully negotiated to get a refund that they didn’t have to give? (I found it helps if you are near tears!)

6 thoughts on “Hurricane Memories”

  1. My only hurricane story makes me feel a little guilty because it’s such a pleasant one. Last October we were flying back from a one month trip to Europe and our flight was diverted to Charleston, SC because Hurricane Sandy was beating up on the northeastern US coastline. We were “stranded” in Charleston for 2 days – which were lovely and neither my husband or I had ever been to Charleston. We had no plans or itinerary (because we didn’t plan on being there) so we walked the streets of old town, walked along the coastline, admired the mansions and ate really good food. All the while the hurricane was pounding up north.

    See? Guilty.


    1. You took advantage of an unexpected adventure. Good for you for taking the time that you were stranded to enjoy such a beautiful town. Traveling without plans or itinerary can go either way: So glad that it was a positive experience for you. Guilt is optional!


  2. Well, we lost power for several days after the hurricane that blew through the East in the fall. We made the best of it…”cooked” canned dinner in a fondue pot by candlelight! Our daughter did NOT enjoy the total darkness at night, though. Other than that, my only other real experience was having a “hurricane day” off in high school due to local flooding. The hurricane was named “Gloria.” The next night at the football game, the band director had us play the 80s pop song “Gloria” by Laura Brannigan which just happened to be in our pep music repertoire that season. Fun!


    1. Your band director has a great sense of humor! I’m glad that you and your family were okay, albeit without power and in total darkness at night. It definitely will be a story you tell for years to come.


  3. I’m glad that you could get a refund on that. And I’m also glad the storm missed the city. Those things seem like it would be bad to go through. I’ve never been in a Hurricane, but I hear that living in Houston, they rarely come so maybe I’ll get to experience one some day.

    I’ve lived through a flood though. The city I grew up in flooded and the whole place (30,000 people) had to be evacuated. When we all returned, the city was in ruins. A fire had broke out and buildings were destroyed. Many people just plain never came back. It was a strange experience.


    1. I’m so sorry to hear about the flood. That must have been devastating to have the whole town evacuated and so much destroyed.

      My Southern relatives view Houston as where they go when the storms are headed to New Orleans. While they are occasional targets of the storm, the city benefits from draw N.O. seems to have when it comes to the storms.

      I’m a California girl. I’ll take earthquakes any day over hurricanes or especially tornadoes!


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