Living on St. Simons Island gives B. J. and me a somewhat different attitude to foul weather. We live only three-and-a-half miles from the Atlantic Ocean and when the Weather Channel begins issuing severe weather alerts, we turn our eyes and ears on alert.
When we learned that Tropical Storm Andrea was churning up in the Gulf and headed in our direction, we took up our vigil beside the TV. Even a tropical storm can sometimes create havoc for us island people. A few years back, Tropical Storm Charlie picked up big granite boulders off the beach and tossed them into Neptune Park.
Rain always comes to the island during a tropical storm. We had been dry and we would welcome the rain. My yard and B. J.’s flowers would shout for joy over a good rain. Nevertheless, the other “benefits” of a tropical storm on the island such as high wind, flooding, broken limbs in the street, and overturned flowerpots are not much fun.
We stayed glued to the TV watching Andrea and praying that she would not become Hurricane Andrea. In the past, hurricanes have come in on the same course as Andrea. We live only forty-five minutes from the Georgia-Florida state line. Andrea’s position was not all that far from us.
Like a hungry lion, Andrea just growled, sharpened her claws and waited her chance to pounce onto the Florida mainland. She moved slowly and stealthily but surely.
We waited and watched while the clouds over St. Simons grew darker and dumped more rain.
Another terror of tropical storms are the tornadoes they often spawn. Surely enough as Andrea moved closer to the mainland there began reports of tornadoes. One community in Florida reported six tornadoes.
Finally, Andrea made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend but she did not waver from her direction. She set her course straight for the Georgia coast and St. Simons Island. The tornado reports were coming in.
Shortly, there was a report about tornado that had touched down on the Mayport Naval Base at Jacksonville, caused damage and was headed north in our direction at 40 MPH. We kept our ears and eyes on the TV.
The recent mayhem and fatalities caused by the twisters in Oklahoma brought us double concern. Although not nearly the magnitude of the Oklahoma cyclones, B. J. and I both have been in tornadoes and believe me it is a horrifying experience. The twisters hit fast, leave their destruction and leave in a hurry.
The next report told us that the tornado was on the ground in Fernandina Beach; it was on our course and still moving at 40MPH. Then came word that the twister was in Kingsland, King’s Bay Submarine Base and St. Mary’s.
I worried about the residents at St. Mary’s Magnolia Manor. However, Diane Feine, the efficient administrator of Magnolia Manor, is alert and on top of every situation. I was sure that she would do the right thing should the institution come in harm’s way.
The weather people were keeping us right up to date. The tornado moved along the coast from St. Mary’s to Harriet’s Bluff.
Then things got tenser. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Glynn County. The warning included Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island. The Tornado was located a few miles south of Jekyll and headed north in our direction. The rain was coming down in sheets. We could not see more than a few yards through the rain. We were instructed by the weather people to seek shelter in the safest place we could find. In our house, the hallway and closets afford the best protection.
The tornado apparently lifted and went over us because the next report we got, it was tracking north along I-95 toward Darien. We breathed a prayer of thanksgiving and relief. However, the rain was still falling. It must have rained frogs because they were under our carport and climbing the walls, really.
Nonetheless, the main center of Tropical Storm Andrea had not arrived yet. We were not out of the storm.
Around 9:00pm, the rain let up and I coaxed B. J. into riding over the SSI Pier with me to have a look-see. There was much debris in the streets but we made it fine. High winds were blowing at the pier and the surf was really kicking up. We made some quick pictures of the boiling sea and high-tailed it home.
Tropical Storm Andrea had brought us wind, water, tornadoes and some very anxious moments.