Hurricane Vignettes

My first cruise was on the Disney Magic out of Orlando in 1999. I was somewhat apprehensive about sailing anyway and when I saw that a hurricane was brewing close to our itinerary, I became more fearful. I was assured by a Disney representative that the ship would sail away from the storm. Turned out the ship sailed right through the storm. For about 12 hours, I was on a ship that sailed through 80 MPH winds, rough seas and pitched violently. Torrents of water cascaded down the elevator shaft. I could not sleep and spent time trying to comfort a young mother with children in the lobby who sobbed that we were going to die. Thankfully my wife somehow slept through the storm. Next day, I saw the ship’s captain and asked “WTF?” He said he was assured by Disney’s weather consultants that the storm would not be that bad and it was safe to sail for the Bahamas. I was mislead by Disney. The captain was mislead by his support staff. Ultimately the customer’s safety and comfort be damned. There was money involved for Disney and the Bahamas for the ship to sail and on its predestined course.


On September 12, 1960, I walked 1 .5 miles to my school, St Joseph’s Elementary in South Camden. I was 8 years old and starting third grade. My father had died from a heart attack in February. My mother did not have a car and she did not know how to drive. I did not listen to the news so I was unaware of the impending severe weather. Hurricane Donna which had ravaged states up the Atlantic seacoast was on target to hit New Jersey. As I sat in class, I started to see the driving rain and winds gusting. My class soon emptied as anxious parents picked up their children. My teacher would not let me leave as she feared for my safety. I told her that no one was going to come for me. As the storm worsened, I made a decision. I was leaving. I headed home. An umbrella was useless due to the high winds. I passed West Jersey Hospital where a group of nurses insisted that I come into their building. I declined. My concern was the electrical wires I passed and debris falling around. Last 1/2 mile, I ran home. My mother was in tears as I arrived home and that experience convinced her to learn to drive and buy a car.


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