Gumpa was our Weather Channel

My daddy’s old metal map of the Southeastern United States hangs with the magnets still in place from Hugo’s tract to Charleston some twenty one years ago. It is like a wall monument.

I recall constantly listening to the shrill sounds of the Charleston airport weather updates during tomato and cucumber season. This was our constant companion growing up on a Lowcountry vegetable farm.

The old weather radio is a far cry from the today’s sophisticated weather tracking. I imagine if we had had the Weather Channel back in the day, you may have heard something like this, “In 10 minutes, hail will hit Mr. George Hills’ farm and then the storm will ruin Harold Glover’s tomatoes down on Kiawah Island Parkway.” I think we would have all been half crazy.

I was religiously watching the Weather Channel this past week as South Carolina’s coast was threatened with Irene. My wheels started turning with what to do and when after seeing that category 3 hurricane make its way to the Southeastern coast. It has been heartbreaking to see the terrible damage done by that storm.

Before the storm made landfall, the weather channel folks interviewed brides whose weddings on the beach were postponed and stubborn residents who decided to weather the storm. So many people refused to leave their homes when warnings are issued. Just like my grandfather, Gumpa.

Cousin Bubba Walpole tells the story of Gumpa refusing to leave Johns Island as Hurricane David was well on its way to Charleston. Cousin Bubba had to place a shovel in the yard and make Gumpa promise if the water from Abbapoola Creek rose to the shovel, he would leave. I guess the shovel was considered his weather alert.

Gumpa, as always was right. His knowledge of the wind and Abbapoola tides proved the experts wrong. He could tell just by looking at the creek and the shifting winds where the hurricane was headed.

Although I am thankful to have today’s sophisticated technology, it does keep you glued to the radio and television. Much of the reporting drives me crazy as I try to understand what is hype and what is real.

Last week I wished I could have spoken with Gumpa about Hurricane Irene. He lived long enough to know all about storms and his words would have soothed my fears. I guess you could say that Gumpa was our family’s weather channel. The only difference was his reports where simple, to the point and he was hardly ever wrong.

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