We just finished the first cyclone of the season. It was named ‘Gael’ and was a class 2 here in Mauritius. I had no clue that it was coming or when it ended, for that matter. Everything about it was kind of ‘ack! ack! ohm….’
The day it was going to hit, a colleague from our ‘sister’ company here on the island sent out an email from the giant corporate communications group back in mainland Europe. The email indicated that, yes, a cyclone was approaching and reminded us of the appropriate actions to take for the different classes of cyclone.
- Class 1 – Still go to work
- Class 2 – Schools will be closed, but still go to work.
- Class 3 – Work closed. Everyone at home on lock-down.
- Class 4 and above – Serious prayers and chanting should begin.
During the day, the project work room was a mission control center with everyone becoming a card-carrying meterologist. And big wishes were being secretly and not so secretly communicated – please, let it be class 3 so we don’t have to come to work.
I was not hoping for a class 3. The thought that everything would be shut down and there wouldn’t be electricity or water for days and days, just did not sound like something I would need to actually experience in order to make the call about it being not fun. But, the gang at work was really looking forward to this thing turning into a class 3. They told me about how they would have to go home immediately and not come out until after it was over. While at home with their families, they would sit with lit candles on one side and the battery powered radio on the other and wait for it to pass.
I enjoy lit candles, but I have no battery powered radio. I called the Frenchman and we made plans to hit the local market after work to stock up on provisions just in case. Later in the day, the class 2 bulletin was issued and the office emptied faster than I thought possible. This made me panic just a tad and looking at the satellite images of the massive, circular cloud structure which completely dwarfed our tiny island, didn’t help bring about any internal peace.
Driving home it didn’t seem like a big deal. There were lots of clouds in the sky and it was breezy with patches of heavy rain, but nothing to indicate ‘watch out!’. At the market the Frenchman asked a few times if we had lots of rice. I understood where he was coming from, but it was also a bit funny to me because yes, we had rice at home; but just because the power goes out and you can’t go outside doesn’t mean that you must eat only rice, right? How about getting a little wild and crazy and stocking up on some crackers and canned goods. Then, we could really have a trapped in the house party.
At home, we pulled all the veranda furniture close to the house and closed all the windows. That night, the big gusts and giant dumps of rain hit and the frequency of the bulletin updates increased. At the last update for the evening at 10 p.m., it was still a class 2. Morning came. Class 2 held steady. People scrambled to figure out what to do with their kids. The day went by and more bulletins were issued. Things remained the same into the night.
And then it was over. A few days of wind and rain and it was gone. But then, it started to head South and the days of clouds, rain and wind continued for a bit longer. Today, is the first day we have had blue skies and sun. It’s been seven days since the first bulletin. All of the billboards by the sides of the roads, which were removed so quickly when the class 1 was moving into class 2, still have not been put back up. I wonder when they will be?