I have never experienced a major natural disaster yet. I have just experienced an earthquake once or twice. Luckily, it lasted for few seconds and did not cause any damages. That is why I never realized how destructive natural disasters can be to both human life and property until I read, “What they don’t tell about hurricanes” by Philip Gerard.

I really liked Gerard’s style of writing. I felt that his introduction- “What they don’t tell you about hurricanes is the uncertainty” (Gerard 223) was intriguing. The news always tells the people about warning or aftermath of a disaster but it never shows the anticipation and stress people are facing. They don’t show how people are checking the weather channel every day to see if it safe to step out of the house- “ So the radar on the scope on the weather channel becomes familiar, part of the nightly ritual before going to bed, like taking out the dog and locking the front door” (Gerard 223) .

I felt like his story was very descriptive. I could imagine everything he wrote in his story. For example, “A family down the street gets flooded out on the ground floor. They scramble upstairs ahead of the surge. But the battery of their brand new car shorts out in the rising water, and it catches fire. The garage underneath the house burns” (Gerard 227). I could visualize the scenario in my mind. I could imagine how the family must have felt scared and how they must have ran away to save their lives. Also, how the family must have helped each other so that they didn’t lose anyone and the sacrifices they must have made. To see how your entire house get burned or looking around you to see how hurricane destroyed everything around you can be very traumatizing.

In his story, he writes what happens before, during and after the hurricane. In his story not even once he writes about his own emotions. Throughout the story, its just a list of things he mentions. However at the end, he summarizes his feelings in one sentence- “what they don’t tell you about hurricanes is how many ways they can break your heart” (Gerard 229). In this one sentence- all his feelings come out about devastating and traumatizing natural disasters like hurricanes can be.

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2 Responses to Hurricane

  1. amandaweng says:

    In class, some of us thought that the style in which Gerard recounts his experiences in the mist of a hurricane was rather unemotive, but I agree that it was an effective way of focusing the piece on just the details. I think it allows the reader to actually FEEL the fear of being in a hurricane, rather than have Gerard explain his own emotions about the whole entire incident through the piece. It enables the reader to become more in-sync with the situation, rather than having a foggy conception of how it feels. Moreover, rather than slowly coming out with his feelings throughout, his last sentence about the heartbreak he felt about the entire situation and its aftermath is such a powerful ending that leaves the reader with a deeper sense and realization that hurricanes are actually disruptive. For those of us who have never been in a real hurricane and rely on the news to see the effects of the storm, it is difficult to grasp the true destruction of natural disasters by just what is displayed on the television.

  2. Roshni,
    Interesting take on the essay. From the first sentence, Gerard brings the reader’s attention to the uncertainty and pain that people feel before a hurricane hits. Like you, I have never experienced a hurricane and could not fathom what it must be like to have been in the same situation as the author and his neighbors. But Gerard utilizes the vivid imagery in his descriptions (which can seen a bit detached because he is not describing himself and his own emotions), but he does so to make the event more relateable/understandable to the reader.
    I feel that there is a lot you can interpret form Gerard’s first and last sentence, which I am glad you mentioned in your post. Gerard uses repetition, that pattern of beginning both sentences, to emphasize his point that no one warns people about the destruction hurricanes will cause. “What they don’t tell you” is that no one can prevent hurricane form running its course. Gerard conveys a sense of helplessness, misery, and resignation. Gerard acquiesces to the inevitable destruction fo the hurricane, because he has no choice, but in his last sentence he also emphasizes that no matter how prepared or knowledgeable he is about an upcoming hurricane, it does not mend the emotional anxiety and sadness that comes with the disaster’s aftermath. Even if he knows that a hurricane is coming, and even if he reasons with it and prepares for the storm, he cannot come to emotional terms with the pain. In Mirrorings, Lucy Grealy experiences this same emotion as she tries to cope with her painful chemotherapy treatment and the disfigurement of her face after surgery. As a child diagnosed with something as frightening and heart-breaking as cancer, she tried her best to be quiet and never cry during the chemotherapy sessions, because she believed that “good” behavior equates to silence. Grealy tried to be strong and reason with herself, even after her face became misshapen after her facial surgery, but could not truly come to terms with herself. She could not separate her feelings form reality, and no matter how objectively she tried to look at her situation, she could never detach herself from it, just like Gerard could not detach himself from the pain that the hurricane caused him.

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