Hurricanes and Deafness and Isolation and Hope


hurricane donna

This is a story about Louise and her experience during hurricane Donna in 1960.

Louise is deaf and lives alone in an apartment in Naples Florida. During the day, she works in the local library while her evenings are usually spent with a good book and her cat ‘Skippy’.

The newspaper is her main source of news. She’s been reading about the latest hurricane threatening Florida’s east coast. She also has a television and gathers information through the pictures shown and by lip-reading the news anchor and weatherman as best she can.

Hurricane Donna is headed directly toward Naples.

Louise stocks up on food and water for herself and for Skippy. As the pictures on her TV screen show swirling winds getting closer, she looks outside and watches the ominous dark clouds begin to blanket the sky above.

If Louise could hear, she would notice that the first rain drops sound like bullets hitting the glass windows of her apartment. As the rain and the wind increase, she looks for Skippy and finds him in the corner of her closet, behind a pile of extra blankets and pillows. He’s only done this once before when a storm brought crashing thunder and bolts of lightning.

If Louise could hear, she might have checked with neighbors for updates. She’s never really become acquainted with her neighbors. They seem uneasy around Louise, not knowing how to communicate with her. None of them know sign language.

Louise closes the drapes covering her windows and plans to stay put and ride it out until this storm passes. She takes a deep breath and resigns herself to – –  once again – –  feeling scared and isolated.

During the night, she sleeps peacefully as wind and rain crash through her living room windows.

Hurricane Harvey 2017   hurricane harvey

Laura sits in a meeting with co-workers at the home office listening to moment by moment updates regarding this monster hurricane.  Her company provides a sign language interpreter and several on her team are learning ASL to more easily communicate with Laura.

Laura works with the City’s Emergency Responders and it’s going to be a busy night.

Monitors cover the walls showing the storm’s path. News with captions fills the screen so Laura is receiving the updates at the same time as her team. She is relieved to notice the television network has hired a Deaf Interpreter and they are remembering to keep the interpreter visible for their deaf audience.

Around the room, everyone is continually checking their texts and emails…staying in touch with friends and family. Laura is doing the same. While watching the news, Laura sees that her home and work neighborhoods are being evacuated. Everyone is being directed to a shelter a few miles away on higher ground. Laura is able to keep her family informed as she heads to the shelter, confident that she will receive updates at the same time as everyone else. Laura feels scared, worried, helpless… but she does not feel isolated. She thinks back to Hurricane Donna and can only imagine the fear and isolation experienced by her Aunt Louise in 1960.


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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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