Excerpt: Hurricane Amanda

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    Bad weather sensors and alarms on buoy’s out in the Atlantic ocean were storing data on a system of unparalleled size, but the warnings went unheeded, those operating the stations long gone, the dark halls empty. Most area’s had emptied out right after the War, storm surges, tidal waves, and unbelievable flooding forcing the tourists and vacationers to go, but there were still people surviving along the coast. They were the long time residents who had stayed for Hurricane Camile in ’69 and again for Andrew in ’92. These were the die hard survivors who abandoned their homes for nothing, but now, they were leaving.

   The ocean was telling them there was a monster on the way, though it was over two months before the season officially started. Some of these residents held hope of returning, but most suspected there would be little to come back to. They had seen the signs and understood. Before, they might have had 3 or 4 days of warning. Now, they had one if they were alert, and only a few hours if they were not. The days of city pumps and mandatory evacuations were gone, but the natural warnings were abundant.

    Flocks of brightly colored birds that normally spent a few days, kept going, their cries uneasy, upset. The surf was growing steadily rougher, pushing further onto the debris littered beaches despite no visible storm clouds. Not that many could be seen moving though the layers of grit in the sky that was now thick over the land.

    The wind threw out sudden down drafts and heavy rain bands that moved like missiles, gust sensors reaching 70 before settling back down to 35 and it smelled heavily of sea salt. The barometers were dropping sharply, the tides almost impossible to distinguish as the rough surf moved further inland, and animals had begun to beach themselves by the dozens. It was enough to convince even the most foolhardy. Sharks, whales, dolphins, all fleeing, panic stricken and willing to suffocate themselves on the beaches rather than to face whatever was coming. This was no tropical depression and alert coastal survivors raced to get out of its path.

     Some people however, had no idea danger was once again approaching until it arrived. Large parts of Georgia, made ocean front property in the War, were under water and Valdosta, where the crack had split the land, was full of people who’d been on the road for the holiday, stuck with no way to go forward and no way to go back. Many from vastly different places, they had no understanding of the ocean’s dangerous fury and the cost of the lesson was high.

 The group of survivors in Valdosta only numbered 100, but they were unrelated families that could have repopulated the U.S. without any fears of inbreeding. Their laws might have been drastically different, their future waiting for them, but fate intervened, denying them the chance.

    Out in the toxic waters of the Gulf, a monster had honed in on American soil. Hurricane Amanda, as it might have been called if anyone from the weather tracking system had been left to name it, was bigger than anything on record and it surged due north, powered by a hot ocean current and violent winds that were full of radiation. 

    It had churned for weeks, drawing smaller storm systems in, and at its peak, the outlying winds were sustained at 300 mph, with gusts upwards of 375. The storm surge was 25 foot high in places as it pushed into Southern Georgia and 10 inches of rain fell from the angry sky in the first hour. If satellite pictures could have been accessed, they would have shown a storm that, at its height, covered over half the U.S., the rain-bands touching both Mexico and Canada. 

    Amanda moved northwest as she came ashore, submerging whole towns and leaving an immense path of destruction in its wake. The Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and much of Cuba that survived the War, was destroyed, flooded with high water that went down slowly, reluctantly giving back only half of what it had taken. The War had raised ocean levels as much as ten feet globally, and those lands already at or below sea level, were wiped off the map by hurricane Amanda, becoming a part of the vast, angry waves. Almost no one survived in these isolated havens of fun in the sun, thousands more dead, but not all the victims came from the land.

    Boat after boat was flooded, rolled, sunk, including battleships and coast guard vessels that had survived the War, but could only drift on the tides without their engines and compasses, and these people joined the millions of others already sharing a watery grave.

   The eye of Hurricane Amanda hit Valdosta, GA head on and moved into the United States like a wall of liquid destruction, leaving not a single structure for 10 miles inland, not even trees, and it was horribly amazing to see a 700 foot long cargo ship sitting evenly on top of a school building half its size. Upon second look, it’s not a container ship but a former battleship that had been turned into a floating hospital of aid, the boxes littering it not pods, but crushed cars and homes. The USNS Comfort had crossed the oceans on thousands of missions of mercy but its days were over now, gone like the police, 911, lottery contests, and elections. Gone like Hollywood, American Idol, and the entire west coast. 

The Survivor’s, the War’s desperate refugee’s, now have only the simplest of goals. They want to live, to continue on, and if enough of the right people can find each other, they might just stand a chance. Might.

    Hurricane Amanda did give the survivors one good thing. It brought in warmer air from the South, where there was less grit in the sky to block out the sun’s rays, and for the first time since the War, it began to feel like the season it was. The downside was that with these fresh winds came violent storms, proving that Mother Nature was still furious, venting her rage indiscriminately, and America’s losses continued.

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