A few years back, I had the “privilege” of experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event which will forever redefine for me, the word “awesome”. As a quadriplegic it was particularly exciting (hint: and frightening)!
My wife and I rent a home on the beach in a little expat community in Mexico which sits about 350 miles due south of our stateside residence in Tucson, Arizona, on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez. We had arrived on August 29th having no idea that hurricane Jimena had set her sights directly on us. In fact, it wasn’t until a friend of ours in Michigan IM’d me and asked if we were planning on riding out the hurricane, my response to which was, “What hurricane?” From that moment until the power went out my eyes remained affixed on the four weather websites I had logged into on my laptop.
At this point, Jimena was still some 700 miles south of us, but the computer models indicated that a head-on collision was looking increasingly imminent. She was a category 4 storm and was projected to strengthen to the upper extremes of a Cat 5. My wife urged me to pack it up and get us the hell out of there. With any possible landfall still four days away, I told her no, that it would likely veer off at some point and that we would just get a lot of rain. Truth be told, in the back of my mind, I was expecting a direct hit, the thought of which made me tingle all over with excitement.
As Jimena approached, our skies remained clear and blue as the surf began to display signs of the impending storm. For the next three days I watched, in anticipation, as the waves got taller and taller, louder and louder and as they rolled and crashed on to the beach, closer and closer to where we sat on our patio watching in awe. On the third day I could make out the northern boundary of Jimena as the line of clouds slowly approached. The calm was gone as a breeze blew in from the sea which, from then on, continued to strengthen with every passing hour.
From through the window next to our bed I could hear thunderous crashes of the surf pounding our beach. Knowing the storm was still hundreds of miles away I slept like a baby.
Around mid-afternoon on the first of September, it began to sprinkle as the National Hurricane Center issued a report that Jimena had been downgraded to a Category 3 storm as it approached the Baja Peninsula. By the next morning she had been downgraded further to a Category 2, but our seas continued to climb higher and the wind was howling. The moon was to be full for the next two nights and record high tides having been predicted made this spectacle all the more spectacular.
On September 2nd at 2:48 p.m., in a post to a thread on www.vivasancarlos.com, I wrote:
I’m sitting at home on the beach just NNW from Honeymoon Island. The waves are coming in “waves” as the storm’s tentacles push the water up the Sea of Cortez. The big surges are cresting higher and the sky is starting to darken as I see some lower VERY DARK storm clouds approaching as I type. The “lulls” are significantly quieter. There’s a full moon TONITE so the tide is high as it is and that’s going to exaggerate the surge. Gotta say, this is an awesome spectacle.
Now it was really starting to get exciting! The rain became torrential and the winds powerful. First the internet and power went down followed by the water, not that there wasn’t enough of it falling out of the sky. The only thing moderating the flood into the house were the towels, blankets and rugs that Kristie had stuffed under the front and back doors even though the water level was 4” higher. We were still good and wet, though, as the driving winds blew the water in around the windows and as we began to run out of vessels with which to catch the rain making its way through our ceilings. The Sea of Cortez had risen and now surrounded our house. The ramp which climbs three feet to our patio was submerged along with the whole bottom half, or more, of my wheelchair-adapted van. Even had we been able to get to the van, it would have done us little good as the road out of town had, at this point, been washed away.
The whole of the following day was windy, wet and dark as the storm parked itself directly on top of our town. Within 36 hours we had received 26 inches of rain, the equivalent of what would have been expected to fall over a period of six years. Between the howling and the whistling of the wind, the roar and the crashes of the sea and the rain, which sounded like a barrage of machine gun fire on the windows, my wife and I had to yell at one another just to be heard from a distance of a few feet.
Sea level had risen to the point that we had to open the back door to allow the flood to flow through the house and not build up inside. Kristie readied her kayak in the event that she had to evacuate me, our dog, Perro Negro and Dumpster the cat, along with lengths of ropes to tie the kayak off to the roof. During the most intense hour-or-so, the sound was so deafening that I recall likening it to having been parked beneath the jet engines of a plane. As frightening as this was I was exhilarated; Kristie, not so much. She feared more for my safety than anything else.
Between the most powerful storm surges came waves of less severe winds and rain. During one of these “lulls” I decided that, since we had no running water and might not for some time to come, I might as well take a shower with Mother Nature herself. Kristie pushed me outside in my GO-Anywhere shower wheelchair, butt naked, on to our patio. She locked my brakes in order to keep me from blowing away while I shaved, shampooed and showered. It was an exhilarating experience and my GO-Anywhere Chair proved itself hurricane-worthy.
The GO-Anywhere Shower Wheelchair having been hurricane-tested is now, officially, hurricane-proof, at least to the Category 1 standard. I think that will have to do it – as exciting as this experience had been, I’ll probably have to pass on attempting it again. In fact, I’m certain that my wife will never permit me the opportunity to even consider it.
Rick Goldstein is the inventor and user of the GO-Anywhere Commode ‘n Shower Wheelchair™ and CEO of GO! Mobility Solutions, manufacturer and distributor of the GO-Anywhere Chair™ line. You can read about GO! Mobility Solutions and their portable GO-Anywhere Chairs by clicking here: