Friday, December 23, 2011

Come on, Irene

We’re catching up on the blog so there will be some random, out of sequence posting.

In September, our area was under a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Irene. Sounds pretty scary, right? We did a bit of research that consisted of polling our neighbors on what that meant. Most importantly, we found out that that doesn’t mean you have to leave your home. However, you have to understand that it means you will have no access to services provided by the county – fire, medical, etc. – until the evacuation is lifted. We also found out that the only neighbors that were heading off the island were all elderly folks and planned to use those emergency services. They took off, the rest of us stayed.

As the hour of mandatory evacuation and bridge closures neared, we prepped our house and ourselves. We made a list of what we had to do. We took off of work early and began our preps.

First? A trip to the liquor store where we stocked up and the local merchant handed out toilet paper to its customers. We already liked the owners, but this made us customers for life (as long as we survived the storm, that is!).

Next up was the hardware store. With wine and beer out of the way, we could concentrate on other preparations. I should note that the liquor store was way busier than the local hardware store. Anyway, we bought a new chainsaw (we needed one anyway) and five gallon buckets to store water. At the grocery store (by far the most crowded stop we had), we purchased ice. I’m still not sure why there were such lines to buy food when the likelihood of losing power was so high – why buy more to spoil?

Having learned our lessons from Hurricane Isabel (September 2003) at the old house, we felt pretty confident with our planning. That storm had a huge surge that flooded the neighborhood. We knew our current house didn’t get swamped in that storm – the former owners told us so, but I didn’t believe them so I checked with their insurance agent to confirm. Our house is 14 feet above mean low water and the last surge was seven feet above. But, the frenzied meteorologists were calling for a much larger surge, and we would be prepared.

We also knew if the roads flooded, our cars would be useless so we had kayaks and bikes set up by our front door and the boats in the backyard tied to the deck. We moved all of the deck furniture indoors so that they wouldn’t fly around and crash into the house (the meteorologist were calling for high winds). We were sure we would lose power so we had ice in all of our coolers stocked and filled tons of containers with water including the new buckets and stationed them in the bathroom and the kitchen. Back in 2003, our power was out for six days. Given that we are in a more rural area now, we thought this could be longer.

We hunkered down and waited. And waited. And nothing. Yes, it rained and there was some wind. A few old or dead trees around the neighborhood fell down and the power was out for about 14 hours. We weathered the storm just fine, and I didn’t tell my mom about the mandatory evacuation until after it was lifted.

One more thing, we know we were lucky as the storm was devastating to the north of us.

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