When my fascination for butterflies and playing dodge ball gave way, I started chasing tornadoes. One of the largest series of deadly cyclones I’ve personally encountered was spawned by Hurricane Hugo, a Cat 5, which threw more than 3,000 twisters at us before its arms got tired. The NBC studio for which I worked was destroyed. My family and I were without electrical power for a total of nine days; we lost as many as thirty-three large pine trees within minutes, plucked from the ground like matchsticks. The storm took everyone by surprise. It was not predicted to come that far inland.
My frightened son and I huddled inside a window-less bathroom; I tied him to the plumbing; he didn’t know that I, too, was scared, especially after a tree speared our home. I prayed for salvation. At daybreak, I discovered a real estate sign from another county sitting in the driver’s seat of my Pontiac Firebird; the windshield was shattered like my nerves.
I called 911 for a ride to work so I could help my community recover. A volunteer firefighter drove me. North Carolina was declared a federal disaster area, receiving $1 Billion in damage.