Damn! Was it really ten years ago that Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh? There was devastation everywhere you looked….for weeks! I was on the schedule to have my (2nd) CD release party down at the Berkley Café on Martin Street that night and as always..the show must go on! So we went for it and before we could finish the set the lights started flickering off and on and eventually completely off again. I got my drums loaded and was headed back home, over a half an hour away. Pulling out I knew it was a “no go” as all of the traffic lights were straight out, being blown horizontally. So I started to drive over to Jack’s house but there was no way to get there. Every street I turned down was blocked by huge fallen oak trees. Raleigh IS The City of Oaks (even OakTeams!), you know.
I drove around for about 40 minutes scared shitless that one of those trees was gonna land right on top of me, limbs and debris all the time being blown against the car.
I finally drove over the end of a big tree and made it over to my friend, Bob Passarelli’s house. Bob’s the former chef for the Governor’s Mansion (of 12 years) and the guy I do the truffle thing with.
When I knocked at his door it was obvious that I had awakened everyone. They had no idea that a Cat 4 Hurricane was knocking trees down all around them. We had had three days of soaking rain before it hit so the ground was soft, making the huge oaks easy pushovers. Bob invited me in and showed me to the back of the house where there was a flat roof built-on room with a couch. He went back to bed and I laid down. I had the eeriest feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be there. Something told me to get up.
So I got up and laid down on the floor beside the hearth of the fireplace. About that time there was a roar in the back yard that could have only been a tornado (especially after looking at the rut it cut through the neighborhood the next day). Then I heard a giant crash and looked up to see a limb, itself the size of a tree, through the roof AND through
the couch that I was just on!
Being a flat roof, water was pouring in at an alarming rate, filling up the back room in no time and rising into the adjacent rooms. Bob grabbed an axe and stared knocking a hole in the floor so the water could drain out. After about 10 minutes of whacking he finally opened a hole big enough to make a difference.
It took a while to calm down after that ordeal and the winds were still dropping trees around us. There was a THUD every minute or so, another one down.
Bob’s youngest daughter had crawled into their bed by this time and at about 4am I took her bed and tried to get some sleep. Just as I was passing out there was another huge THUD! This one was close, REAL close! I thanked my lucky stars and decided to check it out tomorrow.
Of course, the next day came too soon as everyone was anxious to start cleaning up. No one had power. At 7am neighbors were outside with chainsaws. I walked outside and saw what looked like Armageddon! And along the entire length of the house was that giant oak tree that had fallen, lying by the wall where I slept.