Post 58 – The Hurricane: Aftermath (Part 3)

The final resting place of the banyan tree.

The final resting place of the banyan tree.

The three older girls stood in row and stared at the death of their childhood before them. Riding out the storm on soaking wet mattresses with a yowling cat giving birth in a closet was nothing compared to this, the first huge loss of their young lives. Leaves were everywhere and there seemed to be an increase in the now homeless bug population scuttling about. The once mighty banyan, proud surveyor of Tafuna and the jungle whose perimeter it had guarded, protector of secrets and troll dolls, had finally met its match in a wind gust clocked at 120 miles per hour. Large chunks of branches were strewn about perilously close to someone’s house.

“This is so terrible. Should we sing something in its honor? ” asked Carolyn, racking her musical data base to try to come up with a song that had the words “banyan”, “hurricane”, or “pulverized” in it. Being her father’s daughter, she had just decided on a parody called “The Best Things in Life Are Tree” when a shout rang out across the littered sand. “Hey, there’s free ice cream!”

The power had gone out the afternoon before and no one held much hope that it would be back on anytime soon. As people began to assess the state of their refrigerated food storage, many came to the realization that the ice cream was going to be the first thing to go. The only way to purchase it was in three gallon containers, so that meant there were a lot of frozen treats that were soon going to be liquid. The girls ran back across the debris-littered sand to the first house they could find with a crowd in front of it but were unceremoniously turned away because they didn’t have the proper equipment. “You need your own bowl and spoon,” explained their friend Liz, a smear of vanilla on her shirt and chin that proved she had been prepared.

hurricane2Trick or treating for dairy products had made them temporarily forget about the night before and as they ran toward their part of Tafuna, they were startled to see one house that had the entire cement end wall caved in. The neighbors who lived there were fine, but it brought them back to the sobering reality that things could have been much worse. Pieces of the sheet metal roof were everywhere, mixed together with wood from the packing crates that had once held bikes and lawn chairs. There were also bikes and lawn chairs in all the wrong yards.

As they neared their house, the tantalizing smell of cooking meat filled the air. The rain had stopped for the moment, and Larry had set the terra-cotta hibachi up on the small cement porch. The barbecue was in the shape of a tiki face with holes for the eyes and mouth to let air in; its wide maniacal grin was a little disconcerting given the night they had just had. A coffee pot was percolating on the grill and slabs of Spam were sizzling along side of it. Fortunately, the family had not had a lot of fresh food that would be left to rot in the freezer, but there was enough canned meat to feed the entire neighborhood.

The girls grabbed some plastic bowls and their little sister, much to the relief of the cat. Karen had been helping take care of the new kitten and the mother cat had just about had it. They stopped at the next door neighbor’s house and were rewarded with scoops full of soupy vanilla cream. Chrissie pulled a cooling slice of grilled Spam out of her pocket and nibbled at the crunchy edges, alternating salty bites with the sweet dessert. It was exactly the same flavor combination she had eaten at her friend’s house just before her father had picked her up. What a long, strange 24 hours it had been.

“We took a drive later that day, and then we began to get an idea of what a hurricane could do. The short dirt road which runs from Tafuna to the highway was covered with tree limbs, coconuts, banana stalks, wires and poles. Most of the Samoan fales which are along the road were flattened. Along the highway, huge trees had been uprooted or snapped and thousands of banana plants were strewn along the road. Most of the palm trees weathered the storm fairly well, although they were stripped of their coconuts and denuded of the fronds. From a distance, it appears as if thousands of matchsticks jut up into the air. The breadfruit trees, having regular branches, didn’t fare as well. I only saw two small breadfruit trees which hadn’t been destroyed. The foliage had been stripped from the mountain sides, and areas which had been hidden from view were now visible. I can’t imagine what it must have been like during the night in those fales. From what I have heard, most of the village spent the night in the church, praying. The church is the strongest building in any village. But while we were still recovering from the shock, but the Samoans were out repairing their fales and recovering things that had blown away. They were laughing and singing and seemingly unconcerned with what had happened. The children were all gorging themselves on oranges and bananas, trying to eat as many as they could before they spoiled. Just like our kids with the ice cream!”

Larry

Hurricane or not, Kathy was still smiling.

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2 Comments to “Post 58 – The Hurricane: Aftermath (Part 3)”

  1. One of my clear memories of the aftermath were the mountain waterfalls. They looked like chocolate milk flying UP the mountain-sides. The winds were still fairly strong and gusting, but the noise had luckily died down! It was an experience!! Great posts Chrissie!!!

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