CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Derecho -- at first glance, it could be a new tortilla chip. Or the latest model of the Dodge Durango.
I'll lay odds, though, that a good portion of 1.7 million people -- the population of our state -- is now intimately familiar with the meteorological term, or at least its effects.
What a difference a couple of weeks make! We've all survived so many things -- testing our patience, perseverance and pocketbooks.
Derecho (pronounced "dey-REH-cho") is a widespread windstorm created by large thunderstorms -- capable of wind speeds up to 100 mph.
Although derechos can produce destruction similar to tornados, the damage is typically focused in one direction. "Straight line wind damage" is sometimes used to describe derecho damage.
And that makes sense since it's a Spanish word defined as "direct" or "straight ahead." By contrast, the term tornado is derived from the Spanish word, tornar, which means to turn. Now, on to the human element.
We've all been through a lot. And everyone's experience deserves to be validated. It's all relative (or maybe it's about your relatives!)
Those without power scorned those who complained about their cable being off -- or their Internet being down. And those who sustained major damage to their houses and property didn't have a lot of patience for others who were just without services. The experiences have brought out the best, and the worst, in us.
I thought my husband, John, and I were on our way to earning joint merit badges for having sustained eight days without power -- before I learned of those in much more dire situations. Technically, we did the pioneer thing for three days before seeking shelter elsewhere and creating an affirmation for all who were in the same boat: "More power to us!"
Just in our immediate circle of family and friends, we learned of several devastating events:
• Six trees falling on the house of one of our employees, causing the family to move
• Cars buried under trees, one needing $8,000 worth of repairs
• Power that came on and then went off again -- multiple times
• A classic car destroyed beneath a fallen tree
Kudos to all the utility workers who worked 'round the clock -- even fighting additional storms -- to restore electricity, water, telephone, cable and essential services. And to all those who volunteered to help out others.