The Obligatory Hurricane Post

The only reason I live in Philadelphia (other than the cheesesteaks, of course) is that we don’t have natural disasters around here. I usually feel pretty insulated — we are too far south to get the blizzards, too far east to get the earthquakes, and too far north to get the tornadoes and too far inland to get the hurricanes.

Or so I thought.

Last week I was sitting at the pool when the texts started flooding in — now if that’s not an unfortunately choice of words. Evidently we had experienced an earthquake that registered 5.8 on the Richter Scale. Many of my friends and family members felt it, although I admit I did not.

Now Hurricane Irene is rearing her ugly head, and yesterday our governor declared a state of emergency a good 24 hours before the storm was expected to start. I got caught up in the hype and cancelled the SEO Workshop I was planning for our PSMM group this morning. Of course all is quiet out there right now, and the brunt of the storm isn’t supposed to hit until tonight. It’s so beautiful outside, it’s hard to believe what is coming at us.

I am terrified of floods. Every home I have bought or rented in my adult life has been on the high side of the street. It is the first thing I think about when looking at a property. It all goes back to “the Flood of ’85” (Hurricane Gloria). I was in middle school, and it wiped out half our town in western Virginia (or so it seemed). We were fortunate that we only got a foot of water in our basement. Although we lost many books and mementos of my youth, that was nothing compared to what some people suffered.

I remember waiting in our middle school gymnasium with the other stranded kids while my mom tried to figure out how to get to me. All the roads were blocked. We lived on the wrong side of the tracks Roanoke River, you see. It flooded its banks and just kept going. For days, even weeks after The Flood, our town stunk. People wore t-shirts proudly declaring, “I survived the Flood of ’85.”

I certainly don’t care to relieve that experience, but there is only so much you can do, I suppose. We are as prepared as we can be. The laundry is caught up, bread is made, milk is purchased, wine rack is stocked (hey, a girl’s gotta have priorities) and there are enough leftovers in the fridge to heat up for a few days on our gas stove or on the grill. Our flashlights are handy, although we don’t have many extra batteries. Candles and matches are stocked and board games brought down. I’m wishing we had a generator, as I just stocked our basement freezer with a side of beef that I don’t care to lose. I’m hoping to hook into a neighbor’s if it comes to that. We’ve done that before. I’ve charged everything I can think of — phone, Kindle, iPad, laptop… addicted to technology much?

I haven’t gone so far as to fill the bathtub with water and stock up on bottled water. Is it really going to be THAT BAD? I am still in denial. We’re pretty far inland so I’m hoping we don’t see much damage, but it’s hard to predict. We get some pretty nasty storms out here that aren’t even televised — like the one that put us out of electricity for five days in ’06 and the one that took down my precious Crepe Myrtle last summer.

Last night I hung out with the neighbors. We compared notes on our various storm preparations and made plans for a hurricane party — one of the benefits of living in a community like this one. At least there will be no lack of camaraderie if we lose our electricity.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you can assume Irene came to call. But don’t worry about me. I’ll be spending my days playing marathon sessions of Monopoly with the kids and my nights sipping wine and reading my Kindle by candlelight. It’s all good.

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19 Responses

  1. Monoply, wine, candlight and the Kindle sounds like a great night in actually (minus the loud-mouthed Irene, I mean) stay safe, my friend!

  2. Flooding. That is what we constantly live with, and we don’t even live next to a river! Our city just has ancient water and sewer systems that can’t hold all the water from all the new homes that have been built here. Our basement has flooded three times. Our insurance company dropped us. We have four (yes, four) sump pumps and a natural gas generator . . . all in an effort to stop us from getting flooded. So I completely understand your fear of flooding. My kids are terrified every time it rains.

    Stay safe, Jo-Lynne, and let us know when you can how you’re doing.

    1. Shelly, in our last house we had 3 sump pumps running at all times. In this house, we just have 2 (I know right?!? “just” 2). Our insurance doesn’t cover for flooding unless the power goes out and the sump pumps can’t keep up. We’ve only filed one insurance claim ever due to a power outage.

      In this house, my husband installed a sub-floor that has special draining system – I don’t know how to explain it – but anyway, it keeps the hardwood flooring down there and the tile from getting wet and warping. So far so good.

  3. Stay safe! I am baking up a storm this morning-all in preparation for no electricity. We’ve cleaned out the fridge and have plenty of non-perishable goodies to eat-in addition to all of the baked goods I am obsessed with making. If the storm passes us by maybe I’ll have a bake sale;-)

  4. Battening down the Hatches here in Fredericksburg, VA too!!! My poor kids…we definitely felt the earthquake! First thought it was the house exploding (“Everybody out!!”) Then thought is was a terrorist attack (“Everybody back in!!!”) Then realized it was an earthquake. Aftershocks at 1:00 in the morning were definitely felt too! (5 y.o. said, “Man, I do not like these kid earthquakes either! They are just as mean 🙂 I’m sure we’ll all camp out in our bedroom tonight. That’s fun, right???? :/ Anywho, I have wine, chocolate, flashlights, snacks for kids and batteries. I think I’m ready. I really don’t believe it will be too bad. Stay safe everyone!!

    1. My daughter lives in Fred. too. She said everything fell off of her shelves and the dog was very unhappy. It sure has been a crazy week for weather. Here in CT it is just heavy wind at this point. My husband and I are both teachers and are so hoping school can open tomorrow.

      Ashley DeMazza
      Falls Village, CT

  5. I live in a flood zone (hey it’s the price you pay for living on a lake). Our area was declared a disaster zone for July. It happens. And as you know I live in the land of blizzard, blizzard, blizzard, -45 temp, blizzard, blizzard, wind that they do not call “hurricane” (at 70-90 mph) they call it “straight line winds” here then roll into tornado, tornado, more wind, 105 heat index and the list goes on. It’s lovely here, really. HA – but I’ll tell ya this, we are made of tough mental stock. People will come out on the other side better having experienced this difficulty. They really will. People will come together and become a tight community. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.

    I hate to say this, but we are better prepared for an emergency than people are on the East coast….. having said that, I think you need to fill the bath tub and get 2-3 cases of bottled water. SIMPLY due to the fact that people do not stock pile like we do in the land of constant upheaval and there might be a shortage of water.

    JL, be safe, you know I love ya! And I’ll be checkin on ya.

    1. Water and gasoline are pretty much sold out around here already, judging from what I’ve been told. But I might fill the tub and fill the cooler with tap water in case. I really don’t think we’re going to get hit that hard, and if we do, we have a neighborhood that will take care of each other. But yeah, I agree, we are probably not at all prepared.

      1. Gas is sold out too? eep. I would definitely fill the bath tub and a cooler. The thing about electric companies is they can only fix problems as fast as manpower allows and you have to figure out how to fill in the gap (and so many things require electricity). And without electricity the water systems have a chance of becoming unsanitary (altho they will have a huge generator I am sure – it’s still a risk I wouldn’t take).

  6. Hope you stay safe! I’m concerned for your beef!! 🙂 On the weather channel, they suggested filling quart-sized ziplocs about 3/4 full and stuffing as many as you can into the freezer. The idea is that the bags freeze into ice and will help keep everything colder longer if you happen to lose power.

  7. I live in PA as well although not as far east as Philly but still close enough to be affected by Irene. Life is pretty much normal around here. There was no rush to the grocery stores this weekend so far. One grocery store was handing out free loaves of bread! We already have a case of bottled water that we always keep and not necessarily for emergencies. I’m not too worried. The only thing that bothers me is losing electricity for days and losing all of my prepared freezer meals I just made this week as well as the rest of our venison. Thank goodness, hunting season is around the corner! If worst comes to worst, I think we will travel 1/2 hour to my parents who live across from my grandparents who have a farm generator-perhaps we will be able to share some freezer space with them.

  8. I grew up in the Piedmont of NC. We got plenty of wind and that soaking rain from the outer bands but rarely had a hurricane make a direct hit. The first time I ever experienced a flood was after moving to Iowa. Our basement floods when we’ve had a lot of snow and it all starts to melt in the spring. We’ve had to file claims 3 times due to flooding … afraid our insurance will drop us if we have to do it again. We bought a generator when we moved here and everyone laughed at us. So far, in the 6 years we’ve been here, we’ve had to use it maybe 4 times. A few neighbors have bought generators now since we’ve had some pretty nasty winter storms that left us without power. It’s never a bad idea to be prepared.

  9. Hope things are a little calmer (power outages aside) this morning. Have a good Sunday!

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