Howling with the hurricane

Irene is almost there. The hurricane is bearing down on the East Coast and residents in coastal areas are being asked to get out of its path.

I know the feeling. I spent two years on Galveston Island in the Texas Gulf Coast and fled to the mainland a time or two as a hurricane whirled in the water. Hurricanes are a powerful, deadly force and that is especially well known in Galveston, where the 1900 hurricane killed at least 6,000 people as water covered the entire city of Galveston, which is on a part of the long, narrow isle.

When I lived there, in 1985-1986, a native (They’re called BOI, for Born on the Island, by the way) told me his city was still reeling from the storm that hit at the turn of the century. The storm’s impact was well-told in the bestseller “Isaac’s Storm.” Great read.

While their power and danger are well known, most people don’t realize how much an oncoming hurricane excites a lot of people. That’s where the popular drink got its name, and I knew people who sampled a few of those as a major storm approached.

The Poop Deck, a funky old bar staring out at the gulf from Galveston’s Seawall, always hosts such events, drawing the brave, the foolish, the thirsty and TV crews.

A lot of bars hold parties, people gather at homes and there is a real, tingly sense of danger and excitement as a storm approaches. Weird, I know, but it happens.

I don’t know of any such events on the East Coast, where hurricanes and the threat of them are rare. I would hope good sense and a sense of self-protection would prevail this weekend.

But I am sure some people will ride it out and hope for the best. In honor of those fearless, feckless folks, here’s Neil Young performing “Like a Hurricane” from the excellent “Neil Young in Berlin” concert:

Here’s a link to Irene’s path: