Monday, June 27, 2011

Heat and Destruction

A sunrise on a nicer day at sea.

The heat has been all but unbearable since we returned. We’ve been hitting 106 to 109, and yesterday hit 110. If the heat wasn’t enough, the 25-35 mph wind turns it into a blast furnace.  We tried to work on the RV trailer, but it was so hot inside that the air conditioner kept tripping the breaker, even with the thermostat set at 90. To keep the sun from destroying the rubber roof and everything else, we finally decided to empty the last two-months’ worth of supplies, and just return the trailer to the storage shed. We’ll bring it back and do the thorough cleaning it needs when the temperature drops to a reasonable level.

For those not from this area, I need to try putting heat here in perspective. I vividly remember pouring a molten lead keel for a boat when it was 110, and it felt no where near as hot as here the last couple days. On that occasion, I had to tie a bandanna around my neck and forehead to keep my sweat from dribbling from my nose and chin and into the molten lead. The instantaneous vaporization of the sweat to steam would cause a lead-splattering explosion. It was a surprise when I checked the thermometer and found I had been doing the hottest job on what would for the Mid-Atlantic area probably be the hottest day of the year. Yesterday, I was surprised when I looked and found the mercury wasn’t between 115 and 120. Wind chill is calculated on temperature and wind speed. Heat index ignores wind and uses a formula with temperature and humidity. When a dry wind of 110 is hitting you at up to 35 mph, plants desiccate and the skin burns---in the shade.

After dropping the trailer off, we decided to go down to Canton Lake to see the damage that resulted from the tornado that occurred while we were gone. The devastation can only be defined as being complete. One cannot be other than amazed that no one was killed in the storm. Everyone in the campground had run for the shower and restroom facilities where they clung to each other as the building was torn apart. Only a couple walls of the building remained, and yet everyone survived. Trees were twisted, snapped, wrung off at the ground, with pieces carried miles across the lake to the opposite shore. There are piles of steel made up of camper and RV trailer chassis, while others are still wrapped around tree trunks so tightly they cannot be removed to the piles. One area is reserved for collected refrigerators, washers, dryers and other appliances. Beds, couches, and cushions fill both roll-off dumpsters and ravines along the shoreline. Concrete picnic tables are pulled out of the ground or pulled apart. Piles of re-rod and concrete represent where buildings once stood. To both save building materials as well as clean up the debris, cinderblocks, wall, flowerbed, and walkway pavers have been collected into neatly stacked squares of like materials. Sometimes the distinction between what was saved and what was destroyed was mind-boggling. A spare tire and wheel that had been bolted to the rear bumper of a camper was ripped off by shearing all the steel bolts, carried in the air across the lake before being dropped into the woods. The vinyl spare tire cover that was held to the tire by only an elastic band, remained in place and was undamaged.

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