I was five years old when Hurricane Hazel swept through Toronto, Ontario, southeast of where we lived. I don’t remember a thing about it, except for listening to the adults exclaim and carry on forever after it was over. To me it was just another big old rain storm. But they couldn’t get over remarking about how bizarre it was to have a tropical Atlantic hurricane make it so far north and so far inland. All I could think of was the big bustling lady we knew named Hazel, all energetic and noisy. She had a bunch of kids and a no-nonsense attitude – I thought it was wonderful that they named the storm after her.
In 1987 I watched the tornado that swept across the eastern side of Edmonton, through the ‘green belt’, right beside the office building where I worked. The reception area was in a big glass dome, so the view was great. We had no idea what was going on. Once again, looked like a big old rain storm to me. The power went out and the sky was black at four in the afternoon. Someone remarked that it looked like the end of the world. Another person with a little battery operated radio was going on about flooding and people being killed and blown off the highway and disaster and havoc. He was quite annoying, and we were sure he was blowing things all out of proportion, but no one told him to shut up. I remember hoping for the rain to let up enough that I wouldn’t get completely drenched going across the parking lot. I didn’t have an umbrella.
Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? When I got home and the power was back on I watched the devastation on tv in utter amazement, and still some disbelief. My husband and kids were on holiday in Ontario on the island, and I couldn’t reach them by phone. I did talk to my parents finally, to tell them I was fine, but they hadn’t heard a thing about it yet. I was kind of miffed, home alone, no one knowing or caring that I had been that close to a tornado and was still alive. Now when you mention our own Black Friday here, even after all this time, everyone has a story to tell.
In comparison to some of them which are ten times more dramatic, mine is rather lame. I tend not to panic about things I suppose. But then my house was still standing and I didn’t personally know any of the people who lost their lives. As far as experiencing disasters go, I guess you could say mine were not that bad.