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October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm: Great-Grandpa Would Not Have Known it was Coming

Could Great Grandpa Have Predicted Frankenstorm?
NASA satellite photo
Frankenstorm. You'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard of the impending Frankenstorm. The hype and warnings and online maps showing the predicted path of what many are calling "perfect storm" made me think about our ancestors.

They lived through terrible storms and droughts and floods and hurricanes, without the advance warnings that we have today. But have you ever looked into exactly what storms they endured? And how they coped? They didn't have the warning systems we take for granted. Great-grandpa looked to the clouds and the animals and birds to predict bad weather coming. So he likely didn't have much time to prepare, nor would he know how bad a storm might be.

We run around stockpiling enough food and water for 72 hours. We gas up our cars in case we have to evacuate. But is this something you think your ancestor might have done? Depending on the year and the location, probably not.

For example did you have ancestors who were living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635? There was a bad hurricane that year and if your ancestors were there, you might want to imagine what they went through.

What about Miami Florida in 1926? Or the 1938 New England hurricane that killed 600 people? This site has lists of historic hurricanes to help you figure out if your ancestors experienced a bad hurricane.  And these are only hurricanes. There would be droughts, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and other catastrophic natural events that our ancestors experienced.

One way you could check to see what your ancestors might have gone through is to find records of historical natural disasters. Then if you had an ancestor living in that location in that time period,  consult Online Historic Newspapers  for more in-depth detail of what occurred. 

Adding detail to your ancestors helps make them more "real" to us, more alive and also reinforces that your ancestors were just like you - they lived, loved, suffered, laughed and had all the human emotions that we have today.

It's easy to forget that they were real people just like us. They lived through their own Frankenstorms.


The Grandmother Here said...

Our ancestors may not have had warning to evacuate, but they were ready. They had food stored. They had candles and lamps. They had their own water and sewer and heat. They were independent -- not just for 72 hours until the Red Cross could get to them.

Emily Schroeder said...

Love this post. I'm a meteorologist, so I fully understand just how rare and powerful this storm is. And now that I am interested in ancestry and history, I think a lot about how our ancestors did cope with some of the terrible weather disasters of the past. We are fortunate to be able to live in a time with so much technology and knowledge about the atmosphere. It definitely saves lives.

Mariann Regan said...

I often think about this topic. In Hurston's "Their eyes were watching God," they had to guess a hurricane was coming, by the behavior of the birds and animals. We overdo the preparation, but we're still kind of scared.

I saved the historic hurricanes and the online historic newspapers website links. Thank you for sharing this!

Yvonne Demoskoff said...

I love how your posts get me thinking about my life or that or my family, Lorine. I've written about the 1953 Sarnia tornado that my Mom witnessed.

Kristin said...

I agree with the grandmother here. sometimes a storm would be so bad that it would blow everything away but people were normally more self sufficient. When we lived in the country we always had a store of food, our own well water, another source of water within walking distance, kerosene lamps, candles, etc. etc. Many people now have to lay in supplies for two days.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Kristin and Diana - I couldn't agree more! Hubs and I are big believers in being prepared and so we always have a 3 month supply of food/water on hand.

Our families laugh at us but I think they're the foolish ones for not having at least 72 hours of provisions on hand. It doesn't take that much effort and it's always better to not be the one fighting crowds for the last jug of water or batteries for a flashlight

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Emily we are indeed fortunate and I think a lot of people forget that because I hear a lot of complaints if the "Weatherman/woman" preditions didn't happen. Seems people forget that storm fronts are dynamic and can change from original forecasts

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Yvonne - thanks for sharing that link! I recall Hurricane Hazel. I was a little girl but we were out that day at a Provincial park. No one knew it was coming! But boy did it hit hard. My mother was white-knuckled on the steering wheel of our car as she drove through teeming rain and wind gusts so strong the car was knocked back and forth on the road. Big trees dropped around us - very scary!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Marian - yes the behaviour of animals and birds, plus watching cloud formations and even leaves on trees is almost a lost art nowadays.

I know a bit from my years of living on a sailboat every summer on Georgian Bay, and hubs knows a bit from living with his grandparents on their farm every summer. But there's so much we don't know about predicting the weather!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Diana you are so right. I shake my head sometimes at how many many people depend on the government or an outside organization to tell them what to do and to keep them safe in times of crisis.

Hubs and I believe in being self-sufficient and taking care of yourself and your family and not depending on others. IT's great those organizations like the Red Cross are there to help those in need but it's gone too far.

Hubs calls it living in a nanny state where we depend on the government to take care of us instead of being prepared and ready to take care of ourselves