Umm, if you haven’t heard there was a hurricane that traveled up the East Coast yesterday. Her name, Irene. And based on media hype, you’d expect that Irene was the second coming of Hugo (’89), Andrew (’92) and Katrina (’05) all rolled into one. In reality though, it appeared that my grandmother’s sister Irene is stronger than this hurricane.
I know many of you will say, that the loss of lives in NC and VA demonstrates the dangerous impact of the storm. And though, I don’t underplay the loss of life in any natural disaster, people do die in these storms no matter how big or small. It’s a hurricane fact.
Today, as I awoke with no power (and no, I didn’t bitch; loss of power in storms is expected. And though you hope it doesn’t happen to you, it does happen, and the power company is working as hard as they can to get you back online–Patience is key, which I’ve found many in the Commonwealth do not have) wondering if it would be a few hours or a few days before my power was restored, I began to reflect on previous hurricane experience, namely Hugo in 1989. I concluded that my prediction on Irene was on target: She had nothing on Hugo. Let me break it down:
1. A sound sleeper, I was awakened at 2AM to windows that were given life from the 70mph winds. They breathed in and out waiting to explode with a force only a priest could exorcise.
2. The landscape outside my animated bedroom window was a world of 90 degree angles. Pine trees, flowers and bushes were schooled in the lessons of high school geometry.
3. The day after the storm and for two weeks afterwards, the chimes of chainsaws were heard in neighborhoods for hundreds of miles.
4. Everything and I mean everything was closed. The luckiest folks in town were those in the hospital.
5. No school for nearly two weeks. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds. When you’re 17 and there’s no power, you’re bored and even school begins to look like fun.
6. Two days post storm and still no power, I actually looked forward to work. They had power at the mall. I dried and curled my hair in the store’s stock room.
7. In the south, many still live off well water, which means many didn’t have water for weeks. Fortunately, I was not one of them, but my house became a refuge for those who needed hot showers.
8. Listening to the radio from your car was the only connection you had to anything outside your neighborhood. Landlines worked so word of mouth was also a lifeline.
9. Three days post storm, my mom and I get power at the house, but there were many that went two or more weeks without it. In today’s ADD culture and dependence on electrical devices (e.g. iPad, laptop, WiFi), it’s no wonder folks whine at the power company when they go more than six hours without power.
And finally, according to media reports, New Yorker’s believed this to be a disaster of a storm. Well thanks to Hugo for my hurricane survival badge. After that one, no storm since has seemed that big of a deal. It’s actually quite simple: hunker down, ride it through and pack your patience.