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Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003
The old-timers around these parts have a saying that they will grinningly pull out from under sweat stained ball caps every year or so.

ďBig oneís gettingí ready to blow up the coast. Ayup, sheís gonna be a big one. Sheís a-blowiní up the coast.Ē

I have no idea why they feel the need to repeat it.

Most of you who frequent these pages (and, by the way, thanks muchly for doing so) have a pretty good idea of where I live. But if you donít, you can check out the national weather news on any given television and just look off the Mid-Atlantic coastline. See that big swirly looking thing with the projected path graphic superimposed on it, the graphic with the arrow leading the way? The thing called Isabel?

Well, thatís pretty much my street that the arrow points to. Or it would be if you could increase the magnification a little.

Now hurricanes in this part of the country, especially in September, are not an uncommon thing. Not uncommon at all. Seems like every year thereís a bigguní, a potential one, one that serves up instant fodder for television weather reporters and drains the local supermarket of bottled water and batteries. Occasionally, as is the case with this storm, it is actually large enough and on a projected course that will guarantee lively conversation at the local Watering Hole, and cause the bars TVís to be turned to the Weather Channel even when ESPN has the bikini contest in full swing.

Iíve lived here long enough to be bored with it. Complacent, even. Iím one of those slugs who local officials warn you about, the oneís who donít run pell-mell to the Piggly Wiggly and stock up on the water and batteries. Or track the storm on the ever-popular hurricane charts that the newspaper thoughtfully includes on its back page. Or run out to the Home Depot to buy a generator (I just read that Loweís has sold 9,000 generators regionally in the past week. Wow). ĎCourse, Iíve already bought one, and it wasnít for a lousy hurricane. So I guess thereís that.

Iím complacent about it for all the wrong reasons. Hurricaneís brew up every year, they start their march up the coast, fizzle and slow or die off altogether, or hit another landfall some distance away. Worst I ever went through was Gloria back in the late 80ís, and while it surely had some impressive howling wind and driving rain, it did little more than blow down some trees. Floyd hit in í99 and wiped out a fairly good sized town west of here with flooding, I mean absolutely wrecked the town, but wasnít much of a problem in my neck of the woods.

So when they started the Isabel talk (Category 5! 450 miles across!) I was blatantly unimpressed. Anytime someone does the Chicken Little dance over something that hasnít even reach Bermuda yet, I tend to react with a yawn.

They talked projected targets and we came up as a favorite. 18 foot storm surges at the beach. Flooding that would knock out the largest city in Virginia (thereís your location clue, hee) in a matter of hours, taking power and phone and water supply and (god forbid) internet and all the little essentials with it. There was a great deal of discussion on how this was the one, the one theyíve been warning us about Ė the storm of the century sort of talk. Theyíve built this up to the point where nothing short of making this place a sort of Water World come to big screen life will suffice.

And the point is? I guess I donít have one just yet.

I still havenít stocked up on anything. Havenít boarded up my windows or put ice in coolers or filled up the bathtub with water. Havenít reserved a room at some hotel in an out of the path area to the west of us.

If the damned thing wants to swamp me, let it come. Lord knows we could use the excitement.

Tomorrow itís supposed to hit. If you donít hear from me, youíll know what happened.

I slept through it.

Naw. Iíll let you know what happens. Promise.

Right after the bartender makes me another Hurricane.

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