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.