Six months after Hurricane Ivan, one extraordinary senior citizen tells his story of courage and will power.
Blind, alone and battling hurricane winds of over 155 mph, 72-year-old Alvon Rankine from East End remembers.
‘It smashed up my radio, broke my fan in two, wet up all my sheetrock and nearly took me too. Everything I had in my room it took. Boy, That hurricane was bad.’
‘When I heard the breeze I thought nothing of it. I said I do not feel nothing shaking and I don’t feel no water yet, so I guess I will be OK.
‘It must have been around 10pm Saturday, when she started to blow. I said oh yeah, here she comes now.
‘Something started pounding, pounding, for a while it felt like it was coming from all directions. I opened the room door to venture out, only to find myself in about two inches of water.
‘Feeling my way around the room, I realized the noise was coming from a window that was being pulled from its frame. I tried to hold on to it but that breeze was so strong it jerked it right out of my hands. If I did not let that window go, it would have carried me with it. I have not seen that window since,’ said Mr. Rankine
‘That space was then an open invitation for the breeze and boy didn’t she blow.’
‘Now like an old idiot, I jump out the window to try and get to the front of the house where I had earlier stacked some plywood. Inching my way around the house with the breeze battering me, I felt the plywood, dragged it closer, only to have a strong breeze rip it from my hands.
‘Soaking wet and shivering, I fought my way back around the house to the open window space and dived in.’
Mr. Rankine said he did not stay there too long for he knew he had to get that window boarded up or things would get worse.
Just then he said he remembered he had stacked some zinc by the back door, which he thought might be easier to retrieve. So he ventured out again only to find himself ducking flying zinc.
‘This time the zinc that was coming off my next door neighbour’s house, was making a singing noise as they whizzed pass overhead.
‘I managed to grab a piece from the pile, fought with it until I got it to the window and nailed a 20- penny nail into it.
‘Then the sheet rock started falling. I grabbed an old sofa and push it up against the sheetrock and stood there leaning on it.
‘The whole place then started shaking, I said, I am goner now. I grabbed one chair put it by the back door, ran back to my room, grabbed one little suitcase, stuffed it with some dry clothes and went and sit by the back door.
‘Then above the storm I heard someone calling, I shouted I am out back.
‘I cried with relief when those boys took me to the Civic Centre.
Sitting back recalling the details, Mr. Rankine said he was wrong to have ventured out at the height of the Hurricane with zinc, plywood and God knows what else flying around. ‘I could have been seriously hurt with no one around to render assistance,’ he said.
Today Mr. Avlon said he gives God thanks for watching over him that night.