After a couple of years with little hurricane activity, a tropical storm named Isaac popped up and all those meteorologists saw job security written all over it.
I saw trouble.
As Isaac moved across Haiti, that poor, benighted island where trouble is a way of life, and bounced over Cuba, it settled into the Florida Straits and took aim at the Keys.
I watched all this from our place at Seagrove Beach. I was down to do some yard work and close up. Summer was over. I did not expect to be battening down for a blow, but I was.
And putting pins in my hurricane-tracker map.
And getting reports from folks like my friend Susan, who lives on Marathon Key. When the storm moved into the Florida Straits and rain poured down, she reported that her husband, Jim, was putting up storm shutters.
Meanwhile, in Tampa, where Republicans were wondering why Pat Robertson wasn’t praying the storm away, my buddy Gary was conjuring up images of what might happen if a Texas GOP tycoon, his trophy wife, a radical from Occupy Tampa, a homeless guy and “Hardy Jackson, beat reporter for The Anniston Star” evacuated the city and were trapped by the storm in a dingy inland motel. The mind reels.
Closer to home, I trimmed trees so the branches would not batter the house, tied down deck chairs and brought trash cans in, because one of the often-overlooked dangers is flying debris, and nothing flies better than a trash can.
Cousin Benny wrote that he was coming down before the storm hit and planned to ride it out. He has ridden out worse, so he knew what he was getting into.
It was good that Benny could look out for our place, because on Saturday I had to leave. I was heading for Grove Hill to check on Mama (she is fine, thanks for asking) and to do a program for the local historical society. I was nervous about my talk. These were folks who had known me since I was a snot-nosed kid, and many think I still am. Coming out to hear me is like coming out to hear a talking dog. The wonder is not that the dog can talk, but that it might have something to say.
You can never predict what might happen at these things. Years ago, I came with my new bride to speak to this group. Afterward, we were approached by a lady with whom I kept company back when we were in high school. She asked my lovely, “Did Hardy tell you about us on the fire tower?”
“No,” the one-day-to-be mother of my children replied, “but he will.”
Sunday, the day of my presentation, I rose, turned on The Weather Channel and discovered that Isaac had shifted west. Though there was still concern in Tampa, Pat’s Prayer, if there was one, seemed to be working.
However, this turn away from Tampa put our place in the northeast quadrant of the storm. That’s the worst place to be if you are in a low area, which fortunately we aren’t. This was bad news for some people, but we are on a high spot. If the storm surge gets up to where we are, then water will go inland for miles and there will be sharks swimming in the streets of Dothan.
News from the Keys was that Isaac there was a “non-event event.”
Meanwhile, in Tampa, “the strip club capital of the country,” there was concern that the exotic industry might not cash in on the “RNC Boom” as it had hoped. The clubs had been getting ready for the influx of “randy Republicans” since 2011. Since GOP-goers are known to outspend Democrats 3-to-1, some establishments had redecorated with red-white-and-blue elephants, put up signs reading “no liberals allowed,” and even hired extra strippers — one of them was Lisa Ann, aka Serra Paylin, who will appear as you-know-who.
I am not making this up.
Delegate discounts were being offered.
Then Isaac veered even further west and Tampa was spared — whether this was through the intercession of the Rev. Robertson or Joe Redner, owner of Mons Venus, where the lap dance was introduced, was not immediately clear.
Folks in low-lying areas along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts were told to get out. The Weather Channel sent Jim Cartore to New Orleans, where a predicted 20 inches of rain would give the city an opportunity to test the pumping stations and flood-control devices installed since Hurricane Katrina.
Meanwhile, over on our piece of the Panhandle, Cousin Benny reported rain, a little wind, but not much else. Looks like we escaped — this time.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University and an editorial writer and columnist for The Star. Email: hjacksonjsu.edu.