May 4, 2006
Camp Bastion by night.
First came wind and dust.
Then rain cleared the air.
Within minutes the weather seems to have cleared.
And then… just minutes later:
The wind whirled and roared.
And scooped up miles of dust.
And threw it wildly across the sky.
Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
On Camp Bastion, I walked outside and there it was: a tremendous dust storm boiling from the South. The storm brought at least two bolts of lightning and much cool air, followed by a hard, blowing rain. The dust turned to mud. The sky cleared. The air was nearly still. But off to the West, there it was again: a different dust storm rolling in, this one at a 90 degree angle from the first storm.
Men scurrying like bugs.
Before the wall of dust.
The dust swarms vertically.
Men, far away, were scrambling and occasionally falling as they tried to outrun the storm; while others were loading into trucks then racing toward us.
Still fleeing but the storm is gaining.
The wall descends.
Nearly to the guard tower.
The wind braids the plumes of dust.
Trucks racing away.
Barely make it.
I don’t know what happened to the men who were running.
But a truck full of Filipinos made it.
And dashed for cover.
The winds were upon us, nearly tearing off the trailer roof. Steve and I tied it down. The mess tent had already been knocked down, but the ropes anchoring it kept it from blowing away. Satellite phones would not work; the dust attenuated the signal. Work came to a standstill.
Later that night, there were storms in the distance.
And there was lightning.