Monday, September 22, 2008

The Ohio Hurricane

Thurber BookImage by SideLong via Flickr
"Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen, and in which almost everything has.”
-James Thurber

We all remember the funny James Thurber story, The Day The Dam Broke, about a panicked mob running east down Broad Street at the mere mention of the 1913 flood that devistated the capitol city of Columbus, OH. One can only imagine what Thurber would do with the tale of The Ohio Hurricane as Ike left over a million midwest residents without utilities for over a week.

Maybe the story would go a little something like this:

There are few alarms more terrifying than “The Hurricane’s about to hit!” yet that is exactly what Ohioans are up against, at least until the November elections are over. Right now, over one million Ohioans are frustrated by lack of power. We call them Democrats.

As the storm approached rumors flew up and down High Street with warnings from weathermen on the impending tropical depression sure to cause damage during the post convention period of September, 2008. People braced for the worst; the entire state abuzz with the hum of placid pundits; arguing, computing, wheedling, offering, refusing, and yet never, ever compromising or running for cover. Fears of long lines in supermarkets, gas stations and polling places prevailed.

As winds howled, lights went out and freezers thawed, people mobbed the stores for generators and Ice. (Without cable T.V for the Browns game, these items were mostly used to rig various contraptions of self electrocution.)
Those unable to find such necessities gathered on the streets and fired up their grills, cooking every rotting thing in their ice box, including Nutty Aunt Norma’s Fruit Cake from Christmas 1973. Instead of hunkering down inside the safety of their homes, Ohioans came outdoors for wild and windy tailgate parties with neighbors, strangers, and even strange neighbors. They came together as a team in community solidarity, with offerings of freezer burnt meat. Thus is the nature of the Buckeye, always honoring tradition; fighting for every three yards in a cloud of dust, armed with bad bratwurst and day old bread. Brave souls held their ground during the disaster, following in the footsteps of dear old Marc Dann who once told the Governor, in the language of Julius Caesar, they might as well try to move the Northern star as to move him. (Alas, the poor Danster was unaware he was heading south at the time.)

Other politicians were also busy braving the weather, and wondering what in the world to do in a statewide emergency, with no phone banks or robocall robots on line. They soon determined, in an unprecedented act of bipartisanship, the best course of action in such a crisis would be to harness wind energy and litter the city with a flurry of printed campaign debris.

As gusts reached up to 75 mph, siding ripped from houses, trees fell, stock prices plummeted, and some people began to run. (Actually everyone ran, except the conservatives, who thought it best to lay low in bad weather.) It may be they suddenly remembered, all of a moment, that women voters DO count, and this might just be the source of the seething storm. Whatever it was, the people began to stir. They ran up Broad St, clamoring for the Statehouse steps. Soon others joined in. News boys (and girls) were in high spirits. Portly old gents of public affairs broke into a trot, and inside of ten minutes, everybody on High street was running with the herd. “The Hurricane’s coming! Ohio is in the eye of the storm!” Reported CNN and FOX. Soon thousands upon thousands were running like wild. GO LEFT! GO RIGHT! GO GREEN! They cried.

Some unknown official grabbed a megaphone, giving official endorsement to the panicky rush. “Change! Change!” came the calls from both halls, as winds whipped down established lines of power as ground beef went bad. At first this tended only to add to the confusion and increase the panic, for many stampeders thought they heard soldiers bellowing “Man the Swiftboats!” -Thus increasing the calamity all the more.

Black streams of people braved the storm, flowing into campaigns and registering to vote in numbers like never before. Fickle housewives fed the political PMS of both parties with their shouts and screams from the HILL(ary) Top.

One visitor in an airplane, (a Presidential politician perhaps,) was hard put to divine a reason for the panic of the straggling, agitated masses below. No Ohio Hurricane could ever match the winds of the battered gulf cost, and yet the winds raged beyond any ever seen by any Buckeye alive, blowing down street signs, ripping up trees, and tearing approval ratings to minuscule shreds.
Meanwhile on the ground, Nutty Aunt Norma was in a real pickle. First she ran to the left, but then ran to the right, confused by the ever shifting winds. The beating gusts blew her right out of a gathered group of girls and into the middle of the road, lost and confused. We found her eventually on the porch of an OSU frat house, perched atop a wayward Inniswood Gardens statue, with a note from a Unicorn attached to her dress. She was as frazzled as a plucked chicken in a fox den, poor thing. The authorities arrested her of course, as statue abductions are a serious problem in the capitol city.
The people ran and ran as trees turned to toothpicks and vinyl siding took flight. I drew up alongside a woman as I fled with the others. “What in the world is going on?” I puffed.

“Don’t ask me, ask GOD!” she cried, invoking her new found Palin power.
“Holy Baked Alaska, our Moose is Cooked! ” came the reeling response. For a moment, I felt sure they were right and fell into a slump, waiting for the winds of un-change to overtake us all with a thundering WMD (whirlwind of mass destruction.)

Then, in a moment of calm, I noticed everyone was running on foot. Nobody fled the storm in their SUV’s or Hummers. Apparently they could not afford the gas. No matter which way the wind blows, that is one thing we can all agree on.

It will be four years or more before we know the extent of the damage from The Famous Ohio Hurricane, and I can only hope, by then the mess will finally be cleaned up, and we will all be able to look back through the windows of our solar paneled homes, and laugh.

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The Anti-Wife said...

This is fabulous! Well done.

Gabriele said...

Very good story. Oh how it reminds me of the hurricans we had here in Florida 3 years ag(or 4)
my home lost all of its roof tiles and my screen porch had one upride colapse. It cost me 3800 dollars to get it fixed. the insurance was 3500 deductable and the porch I fixed on my own. we went 2 weeks without power in 92 degree weather. My prayers go out for the people of Ohio. May they get power back and no more hurricanes.

beckyboop said...

The analogies were great. In all of the storms I've been through, I have never blown over to the right.

*Ange* Life in the PS said...


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