Tuesday, August 21st, 2007...8:30 pm

Flying zinc, helping others and my mother (Part III)

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If they weren’t huddled inside The Gleaner building on North Street working round-the-clock covering Hurricane Dean, our journalists were busy doing what everyone was trying to do: survive it. Published in parts I, II and III are the individual experiences of the Gleaner Online team …

Kerry-Ann Bercher, Gleaner Online Reporter

Hurricane Dean was my third hurricane experience after Ivan in 2004 and before that Gilbert in 1988 when I was just four months old.

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Photo by Kerry-Ann Bercher: flooding in the community

However the difference with Dean is that I was moving house at the time. Nonetheless my mother and I completed the move in time for us to get prepared and make calls to friends and wish them the best ahead of the storm and offered a roof to stay under, if they needed it.

Having finished moving at 2 a.m. on the Saturday we kept unpacking the next morning as we tried to make it ‘Home Sweet Home’, regardless of what happened outside.

And then the dogs started barking.

“That’s not unusual,” explained my mother. “That’s the awesomeness of God. When I was growin’ up in the country, the dogs and birds always knew when a storm was coming. The dogs would howl and bark and the birds would chirp, then they would run to higher ground.”

I picked up my cell phone to call my friends and alert them to the implications of this information. But the lines were dead and after receiving a few calls from friends, which I was grateful for, the battery went dead. And with the light being cut off at 10 a.m. in advance of Dean, it would remain that way.

We prayed and then in the afternoon, heavy rain began to beat the shingles on the roof and the howling wind, occasionally making weird noises, frightened my mother. We kept praying.

A man across the street from us had a totally different prayer all together. “Jah Rastafari!” he chanted from underneath his tarpaulin-covered shack, nestled between a wall and a large tree. “Sen’ Dean fi come wash out the Babylon boy dem! Yes! Jah Rastafari!” Still chanting, he stepped out, revealing the rest of his attire – black shoes, blue jeans, a red shirt under his jacket and matted hair under his black tam.

Then he nearly slipped and fell with expletives of all sizes, shapes and colours following from his mouth. He soon stepped back inside.

The weather continued to worsen with an apartment complex across the road losing its roof to Dean’s strong winds.

But at 5:30 a.m. the next day it wasn’t Mother Nature that woke us up but what else, but dogs barking. Then at 10 followed 90 minutes of gunfire, followed by the sirens of police and fire brigade vehicles.

That apart, things slowly got back to normal towards the evening. Taxis and buses could be seen running their usual route, and people met on the corner playing dominoes, while some nailed down parts of their roof or burning debris. It almost seemed as if nothing happened.

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