The Stayers Of Hurricane Laura

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, November 19, 2020 Comments Off on The Stayers Of Hurricane Laura
The Stayers Of Hurricane Laura

Some admitted feeling brave – until that first tree cracked. 

Whole families hid in halls, with pillows and sofa cushions ready to soften the blow, if a tree came through the roof. One family wrote their social security numbers on their arms. A grandmother wrote the names of her grandchildren.

Some were drinking shots, one per fallen tree, until four trees went all at once.

They stayed for good reasons, bad reasons, their reasons. A few might do it again. The rest, “Never again!”

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Hurricanes seem to come at night. Laura did. Electricity goes out early, the storm hides moon and stars, so there’s nothing left but the relentless soundtrack of a Cat 4 hurricane. 

Train, train, “it’s like a train,” that’s the biggest description. They use words like rip and tear, but instead of paper towels and old rags, they’re tying those words to metal and roof, door and hinge.

“Sounded like tennis shoes in a dryer all night.” Another man said his whole house was “shaking like a giant unbalanced washing machine.”

The house, the dwelling, what used to feel so big and strong, safe and secure, now “feels like being in an Amazon box, on an open parking lot, and here comes that wind.”

Not just wind, but once-in-a-lifetime wind, six hours of 100 mph wind, with gusts and tornadoes that peak near 140, howling in the fireplace, flushing toilets, slamming objects into objects that fall on objects.

The walls move. People who lived in brick houses on slabs felt wind move under the baseboards. Doors flex, and threaten to explode.

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Some stay to test themselves. “I did three tours,” was the justification of one young veteran. 

Others stay because they can’t leave behind loved ones. Some stay because they can’t leave behind their dogs and cats, or livestock. Some just don’t have the money to leave, an old car, or no car, so they choose the devil they know.

Somewhere in that terrible night, one father was feeling a great weight, thinking that “my stubbornness was going to lead my family to their death. I lied during the worst. Telling them its gonna be ok…. when I didn’t really believe it. Thankfully we’re all ok…. but I…. felt terrified for the first time in my life.”

A mother felt similar, “I felt a guilt stronger than I ever have and probably ever will. Even though we made it, I still struggle with it.”

Another mother, “My little boys shaking in fear in my arms. I thought we were all done for. I will never put them through that again.”

 The random moments of real life still went on. One lady’s dog delivered a litter of puppies during the storm. 

One guy tried to do the Lt. Dan scene from Forrest Gump, went outside in the storm and yelled “Is that all You got!” Wind picks him up, throws him about 15 feet down the driveway. “I took my butt back into the house with my tail between my legs. Sometimes we need a good reminder, just how small we truly are.”

When the eye wall of the storm passed a wife went looking for her husband, hollering his name, found him outside, sitting on a five-gallon bucket. “He’d kill me if he knew I posted that I caught him pooping outside during a hurricane.”

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One guy had a Mickey Mouse nightmare, “he was chasing me the whole night.”

Some claimed they slept right through it. Others are skeptical. 

This mother didn’t sleep. “When the tree fell on top of us… screaming because the ceiling was falling on me… sitting in the closet listening to the wind, house creaking, trees breaking and falling while rocking and praying for God to save us. My kids shaking, crying, and my daughter throwing up… Us vowing if we survived we will never ride out a storm again.

“I will never forget the sound of the tree falling lengthwise onto our house,” said one mother. “Being at the opposite end of where it started falling and all I could think… was “get to the baby!”  

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One woman vividly recalls “waiting for the sun to rise so we could assess the damage and open a window which was our only way out. The tree was blocking the hallway.”

Guy named David, on the day after, “…walking out at 6:45am and seeing absolute devastation. I wept for my community, my church, my child’s school and school year, and the thought of how difficult the near future would be…”

A guy named Charlie, “As the sun was rising… I looked out the window to all this destruction and was about to break down, when a little hummingbird flew up to the window and hovered there for a couple of seconds and flew away. It reminded me that life goes on.”

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to the Stayers. Nobody knows, but you. Man, woman or child, you are a veteran of a battle with nature.

Uncle P can be reached at

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