Now I know some of you are looking at the title and thinking "Ummm...LIMW....hurricane season started in June." Some of you who are lucky enough to live way out of the reach of hurricanes are probably thinking "Hurricanes have a season?" So yes, hurricanes do have a season and officially it runs from June 1st to Dec. 1st. But realistically it is not until the months of August and September that things really get rolling. So, since we are well into August I have decided to tell you one of my funny hurricane stories.
Now you have to understand, I have lived through 19 hurricanes. And when I say lived through, I mean the eye of the storm rolled by me either directly overhead or within a thirty mile radius. The worst I have ever been through was a Cat 4. I even went to an outdoor concert during a Category 1 hurricane. I am a hurricane pro. But I wasn't always. Hubby and I were living in the interior part of our state when we decided we hated our jobs, hated the area and just had to make a change. So, after a romantic weekend getaway to a coastal town, we decided to just up and move to the island right near said coastal town. We had no apartment, no family there and no jobs. I was only 26 then so I got a job waiting tables at a marina restaurant to get money flowing immediately. We moved into an apartment on the second floor of an old house 4 blocks from the beach and fell asleep every night with our windows open and the sound of the ocean lulling us to sleep. It was bliss.
But there is always a price to pay for such pleasure. I actually enjoyed my job at the restaurant. The owner was a crusty old fisherman who would call you a bitch as quick as he would compliment you, but we got along because it was all out in the open. I was one of the older employees and one of only two people who worked there who actually lived on the island so I got called in a lot since I was so close. I worked a lot but played a lot, too. It wasn't until midsummer that reality roared in. Our island was hit by a Cat. 1 hurricane. Luckily it didn't make a direct hit and the northeast quadrant was above us. We weathered the storm just fine and I was back at work the next day.
But the first storm set us up for devastation. It was so easy. It was a whole bunch of preparation and hoopla for just a little wind and rain. So three or four weeks later, when another hurricane was predicted to make a direct hit, no one worked quite as hard or prepared quite as well. That included the people who worked at the restaurant...the restaurant that was ON PILINGS over the water. The boss left cash in the cash drawer, we piled the chairs up and tied them down, but not tightly, more of just an easy lashing kind of knot. The cooks left the grease in the fryers and the fish in the freezer. We all went to the safety of our homes to wait out the storm.
The storm tricked us all. It came in on a lunar high tide and made a direct hit. We were whipped by tornadoes and gusting winds, torrential rain and an incredibly high storm surge thanks to the lunar high tide. We had a good-old fashioned Category 3 on our hands. I still remember taking my dog out to pee during the brief period the eye was passing over just amazed at all of the devastation. We had evacuated off the island, thankfully. Entire trees were pulled up by their roots, electric lines were down everywhere and entire roofs were blown off.
It took several days for us to be allowed back on the island. Only residents were allowed back and when we got home, our apartment on the second floor was unscathed, but our neighbors porch was shoved into the window of the apartment below us. There was also a 4 foot waterline in the first-floor apartment and everything was ruined. I was lucky. We had no power and weren't allowed to drink the water, but I had a comfortable place to live and it was time to go check out the restaurant.
The restaurant looked as if it had been hit by a bomb. The chairs had become unlashed and blasted into the window of the interior dining room. The water line was 5 feet high and mold was already starting to grow. The freezer that had no power...now that was a smell I will never forget. Old fish left in a hot, closed place is not a pleasant odor. But all of that was cleanable with man-power and bleach. What we hadn't expected was the flooding of the completely full fryers. The grease was everywhere. It was on the walls, on the floors, on the chairs. It was overwhelming. And since residents only were allowed on the island, it was just me and my boss who could clean it up. The lone other islander employee had an 86 year old mom to take care of and a lot of damage at home, so he was unavailable.
My boss and I tried everything to get the grease off. We used industial strength cleaners, SOS pads, vinegar...EVERYTHING. We didn't know what to do. Nothing was working. And it wasn't as if we could just run to the grocery store. Nothing was open! Finally, the other island employee stopped by just to see the damage and very flippantly, as if it was the simplest thing in the world, said "You need to get some Dawn. Dawn cuts grease." I remember my jaw dropping open and being just really enraged by his comment. How dare he mock me with an advertising slogan when I had spent 16 long hours trying to clean the damn muck off? But he said he wasn't kidding, went home and got his Dawn, took one rag and a small dollop of the liquid and proceeded to effortlessly clean an entire chair. Dawn cuts grease!! Who knew?
Once again I buckled down and almost single-handedly cleaned the entire restaurant with something as simple as Dawn. I just wish I had known to use it at the start of the process. So if anyone is Louisville, KY, is reading this and has been flooded and is feeling overwhelmed...crack out your Dawn because Dawn is some miraculous stuff!