On September 20, as Hurricane Georges approached the island of Hispaniola, the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch. Soon after, the Hurricane Watch was upgraded to a Hurricane Warning, which lasted until September 23 when Hurricane Georges passed.
As so many times before, when Hurricane warnings were issued, many Dominican Republic residents ignored the warnings. This was due because the last major hurricane made landfall in 1930. Previous warnings of hurricanes making landfall never materialized. The few that took the warning seriously bought extra food and water as they prepared for the landfall of the storm. My family and I were among the people who ignored the warning.
The day before the hurricane made landfall, I was on the way to the university with my cousin Yessica. We heard several people talking about the storm and how insignificant it was. They did not give any importance to the warnings issued by authorities on the radio and television.
I remember on our way back home, we stopped at a local market. Since there were few people, we decided to buy some things in preparation for the storm. The things we bought were hardly enough to last us for more than one day. After all, the sun was out, and there were very few clouds. There were no signs that a hurricane was supposed to hit the next day.
The next day when I woke up, I looked out the window from my bed. I saw dull grey clouds covering the city as if to try to put a veil of obscurity over the inhabitants. This should have been a warning, however, I ignored it. To me it was a day like any other.
As I made oatmeal with lots of raisins for breakfast, I turned on the old black radio, which looked more like a used shoebox with an antenna mounted to the side of it. It was of no surprise that it did not work. At times you had to hit the radio two or three times in order to get it to work. Today the radio was silent.
Before I went about my daily business, I checked my niece Chelsea, who barely turned two and my nephew Leo who was one year old. They were both sleeping in the living room, which was next to the balcony of our apartment on the 4th floor.
Today was my turn to do the laundry. The three hampers we had were full of dirty clothes. It was time for the washing machine to do its job and wash all of the dirty clothes. After the clothes were done, I had to hang them up outside to dry.
The roof of the apartment had large area that was dedicated for drying clothes. Being on top of the roof, aloud the wind to gently brush across the clothes and allowed them to dance as they got dryer during each pass. The staircase that led to the roof was oxidized by years of abuse from the weather. It looked like a rusty cage that was ready to fall apart as soon as you touched it.
The usually spectacular view of the city, which always looks very busy, was not visible. It was like the city was covered by a blanket.
As time went on, it started to get cloudier and darker. It was getting so dark that it felt like the day turning into night. Only now did we understand the seriousness of the situation. People were in a hurry to buy last minutes items just before the hurricane arrives. It was a total chaos,…