Whole Lotta Shakin' Part 2
When I got back to my booth I found Terry, the lady next to me, frantically trying to get her side panels under control. The velocity of the wind was literally ripping them off her canopy. In a sense it was making her entire setup act like a huge sail. Because she's a glass artist Terry was about to see her entire product inventory wiped out while taking her neighbors' work with it if her booth became airborne.
So ignoring the eerie mass of clouds approaching us from just over the Hyatt, each of the four vendors grabbed a pair of tent legs. If you look at the photo I was standing just behind the street lamp, Terry held her other front post along with her neighbor's, while the other two ladies manned the back legs with their backsides against the railing separating us all from the Savannah River. By this time the rain was coming down so heavily that it was actually stinging my skin.
I looked back toward the Hyatt praying I wouldn't see a funnel cloud. In the mean time Terry and her two "helpers" were trying to get as much of her glass work off of her display tables just in case we had to abandon ship. About the time I heard Terry yell "clear" I saw the first "tentacle" drop from the clouds right over the hotel. Three more shortly followed. Despite the fact that my rain-soaked hair on the back of my neck was standing up I couldn't move nor could I take my eyes off what was now a tornado.
The tentacles were moving extremely fast but none of them had yet reached the ground. The wind got very intense. I turned to Terry and the other ladies and yelled "F*** this!" We all immediately took off for the restaurant across River Street (note to Duane C. - it was Huey's) Terry and I stood in the lobby watching the funnel clouds pass above us. We could see a few EZ-Ups toward the Hyatt start to lift off the ground followed by the sound of breaking glass. I remember thinking how in the heck would we be able fish our gear out of the river afterwards?
The dark cloud quickly move on without ever touching down anywhere near us. Seeing the skies brighten I returned to my booth to survey the damage. Besides a lot of wet paintings the only thing ruined was a stack of about 150 business cards. My neighbors fared even better. Up the block toward the hotel several about 8 tents took a good beating but most of the vendors' merchandise was recovered. Paying $150 for another canopy is much better than having to recreate months of inventory.
The only injury was to a jeweler who cut her ankle on one of her display cases that fell and shattered. With the rain holding steady all of us decided to close up shop. It was interesting because many times when rain or weather ruins the day for us crafters the overall mood is one of anger. Not this day. In fact the load-out was rather quiet and uneventful. I think all of us realized how we were very lucky, blessed, or both.
Just in case I misinterpreted what I saw Saturday, I picked up a copy of the Savannah Sunday paper. Sure enough on the front page of section C (go to the bottom of the page) was a short blurb about the funnel cloud that never touched down. I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that is one weather event I never want to experience again!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Whole Lotta Shakin' Part 2