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Chapter 22 - The Hurricane Sisters



We are fast approaching hurricane season here in the Coastal South which runs from June 1 through November 30. You can't live here without at least mentally preparing a hurricane plan and many of us have a packed bag and list of important documents to take if we need to evacuate. The good thing, if there is one, about hurricanes is that you know when they are coming, unlike tornados which can occur in a heartbeat! Generally we have plenty of advance warning so preparations may be made. Dave and I live on the west side of Highway 17 in a relatively elevated area. In the 15 years of living here we have left only once and that actually had its own extenuating circumstances. The infrastructure of much of our area has been built to move people quickly off the beach and towards the inland. Each location is zoned so you know when an evacuation has been called in your zone. When evacuation is ordered, roads leading into the beach are closed and all lanes travel west. All in all, I'd have to say it's a pretty good system.


There are plenty of books about hurricanes. The books focus on devastation real and figurative. This time of year, along with your hurricane preparedness, I suggest these books to read.


The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank - Dottie Frank passed away unexpectedly a few years ago but her books are still going strong. This tale of fractious family dynamics mixed with a hurricane has a satisfying ending but will keep you guessing about what happens until the finish.


Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson - Larson, a wonderful nonfiction writer gives us an intense account of the Galveston storm of 1900. Meterologist Isaac Cline failed to recognize the signs of a major event that killed over 6,000 people and wiped the city of Galveston off the map.


The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton - Cleeton's 2020 novel tells of the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 which devastated the Florida Keys and took out the Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad. Her story is of three women caught up in the event.


By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank - Having grown up in Charleston and Sullivan's Island, Frank was no stranger to hurricanes. In this story, a single mom peach farmer whose son is marrying a Chicago society deb, has to deal with family friction as well as a hurricane. This is a must for Frank fans.


Salvage the Bones by Jessmyn Ward - The book is about a poor black family in the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. This story by Ward, who has won two National Book Awards, is described as a "... big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty..".

Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean by Lee Standiford - A nonfiction account of the wonderful railroad created in 1904 by Henry Flagler to bring tourists into Key West and the hurricane of 1935 which destroyed it all. Definitely worth a read during hurricane season!


What will you be reading during hurricane season?