I am writing this article from the FEMA shelter near a highway underpass on I-94 somewhere in the vicinity of  Jackson, Michigan.  It could be Ann Arbor though – I can’t be certain.  The only thing I can be certain of is that this is indeed the Greatest Storm of the Century!

These cyclonic winds are so very fierce.  The last meal I had was at the Red Cross shelter over in Paw Paw where thousands of us wind-swept displaced refugees had lined up for soup (Chicken Noodle!).  I had no sooner gotten a couple of spoonfuls in before one of the 300 or so tornadoes lifted me to my current position.    

It’s rugged, I’ll tell you. The others have stories as well.  One fellow from Fort Wayne claimed the low barometric pressure was such that it sucked his brains out through his nose.  (Did you know this barometric pressure was very near to a record low?   It’s true, the Greatest Storm of the Century! is aptly named).

There are about two-dozen of us here at the underpass.   The wind and rains (oh, this deluge) are unrelenting –  but such are the ways of the Greatest Storm of the Century!  Huddled together we agreed that this will surely be a storm that we recall to generations to follow.  How could we not? This is a life-changing experience.  

Still, I count my blessings.  Others have it far, far worse.  

Why, just last night E and I encountered a battered fake plastic swan stranded on the rocky shore of a suburban retention pond.   The poor creature had been cruelly ripped from it’s watery tether – where it had stood as a decoy guard against marauding Canada geese.   Dashed against the rip-rap it’s painted black eyes pleaded for mercy.  Damn the winds, I staggered towards the swan,  reached a full two feet and lifted it to freedom.   The swan was brave, and not much worse for wear when you consider the horrors it endured during the Greatest Storm of the Century!    

We placed the swan on a wooden pier where we left it looking forlornly across the pond – in search of the other three plastic swans bobbing out there.   He’s in God’s hands now, I said. And then the winds came, and well…..here I am, out here on I-94.   

Anyway, I must close now.  The Chinese government has airlifted food and supplies and I don’t want to miss out on my fortune cookie.  Our luck has to turn.  I mean, after all, what are the odds that after the Greatest Storm of the Century!  we’ll see another one?   

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I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...