1964 Hurricane

Our Rented House

The resent flurry of Atlantic hurricanes caused me to focus on my 1960s experiences. Of course, my recollections don’t nearly approach the damage Maria caused the island of Puerto Rico and her neighbors.

I think it was 1964 when a hurricane brushed across the southern part of the island, causing damage to the city of Ponce.

Barb and I were renting a concrete house near the village of Isabela while our landlord and his family lived behind us in a questionable house (causing me to recall the story of The Three Pigs) made of wood which he claimed his aunt had built sometime in the last quarter of the 19th Century.

Come stay with us so your family will be safe,” I suggested. “Thank you, but we will be find,” he replied.

Yet, sometime after midnight, while the wind shook everything that it could move, we awoke to a pounding at our door. He, his wife, and their three children were on our stoop and in dire need of shelter.

Unlike Marie, the hurricane left our electrical power and our other conveniences intact. Barb rolled out of bed to make sandwiches, coffee, and cookies for our wet visitors.

By dawn the storm had moved offshore and then stalled, churning in place, as it were. Noting this unsettling phenomenon, our “weather-guesser” assigned to our Ramey Air Force Base Television Station – a low-powered UHF station – assured us that we could forget the hurricane. “They can’t back up,” he stated. His advisory was still ringing in my ears when the storm began seesawing back and forth across Cuba – four times in all – causing Fidel to issue machetes to every able-bodied citizen in order to harvest the sugar cane before it rotted in the fields.

A few days later our bomb wing returned and life returned to a dull roar.