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Reflections on a Hurricane

Reflections on a Hurricane

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.

Hurricane Survival Tips You Won’t Hear on the News

Hurricane Survival Tips You Won’t Hear on the News

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Hanging outside as Hurricane Bertha comes through Greenville, NC

With all the over zealous news reporting of  Hurricane Irene and the minute-by-minute projections of the Irene’s whereabouts, I’m reminded of a few key Hurricane survival tips  that may go unreported by mainstream media.

1. Yes, the power may go out (sorry Marylander’s this is a given), which means you may not have hot water. Take your shower now and prepare to look like ass for a few days.

2. Befriend  neighbors with grills.  When your chicken’s hours from extinction, those neighbors can be a lot more fun than you originally gave them credit.

3. Go old school. Read, work puzzles, draw, paint, write(by hand).

4. Don’t suffer in silence. Have a party and play truth or dare or spin the bottle.

5. Drink a lot of wine  and  go to bed early. Or for some of you, pass out.

6. Pray! After three days of “camping” in your home (thanks Hugo for that experience), you’ll need the grace of a Higher Power to survive without TV, Internet, AC, a hairdryer, flat iron and a cold beer.

7.  Turn off the news and ride out the adventure.


Storm Pet Peeves

Storm Pet Peeves

Anyone that knows me, knows I’d rather be in on a beach in the middle of a hurricane than endure a major snow storm. Apparently, God has my number and is testing me this year. In just the past  8 weeks, He’s thrown 40+ inches on me–a total that exceeds the total amount of snow I’ve seen in my lifetime.  I really try to be a good sport about it by stocking up on wine and taking advantage of the time to catch up on Dr. Phil and The Vampire Diaries. But after three days pre-storm hype, then round the clock storm central news coverage, followed by post-storm messiness, I’m exhausted and ready for those daffodils to pop out of the ground.

My Storm Pet Peeves:

1) Dumb News Casters – It seems winter storms are the prime opportunity for local news casters to see who can be dumber all the name of ratings. Case in point: the stupid news caster from NBC that was driving down Wisconsin Avenue last night doing a live broadcast during the height of the storm.  And I love that they had to emphasize, “don’t try this at home.”

2) Round the clock news coverage -The 2 ft of snow looks the same in DC, Maryland and Virginia.  And how many times do you need to tell me to “hunker down” or “the roads are impassable and treacherous?” Yes, they’re are the idiots who try and pick up their dry cleaning in the mess, but for most of us common sense prevails when we look out our windows. Does this all really demand 24 hour coverage? Can a simple periodic news break or scrolling ticker not solve the same purpose?

3) Stupid drivers -You may have grown up in the midwest and “know” how to drive in the snow, but that doesn’t give you a license to joy ride through the city.  If you don’t have a 4X4 in this mess, it really doesn’t matter where you grew up…you’re not getting far.

4) Toilet Paper, Milk and Bread– Seriously, I don’t understand the rush on these items before every storm. This is not Little House in the Prairie. We live in a major metropolitan area with the resources to clear roads. At the most, you may be inconvienced for a few days, but unless you have irritable bowel syndrome or down to nothing but eggs and diet coke why the mad rush?  The caveat here is of course, booze!

5) Doppler Radar – Yes, this is a great tracking tool, but do we really need to see it every five minutes? Like our friends the news casters, winter storms are  great opportunity for geeky weather dudes to pull out all their fancy toys. It becomes a competition on who’s tool is bigger and better. (Probably a reason majority of weather geeks are men.) Seriously, I don’t care,  just tell me how much and when it’ll stop.

6) Uncleared vehicles – You have 24 inches of snow on top of your car and you decide to drive it without clearing it off, thinking you’ll just let the wind blow it off. Thanks you “SOB”! Now, I have white out conditions while driving behind you.

I write all this after 36 hours of cabin fever and a 1/2 bottle of wine. Give me ’til tomorrow and the remainder supply of my wine and I’m sure I’ll come up with more.  Do you have any storm pet peeves?

Managing Through the Snow

Managing Through the Snow

I'm glad I have garage parking
I'm glad I have garage parking

Living in Michigan for 2 1/2 years, I got enough snow to last me a life time. Apparently, God had other plans and once again I’m haunted by large flakes and snow banks. Nonetheless, Michigan did teach me a thing or two about managing through these crazy-ass storms.

1)Buy a house/condo with a grocery store in walking distance. This avoids any mad rush for milk or toilet paper the night before, and if you’re caught in a crunch for some wine, you can simply just walk up the road.

2) Life goes on. Other news outside the storm is going on the world, so after you’ve gotten the latest on traffic and road closures, turn the channel and see what else is going on the world. No need for 24/7 storm watch.

3) Garage parking. I actually learned this one in NJ, but it’s a necessity in high snow areas. After leaving Connecticut, I’ve never gone without this one. I haven’t scrapped a windshield in 8 years.

4) Snow pants and boots. I almost parted with these when a left Michigan, but something told me to hang on to ’em. Both have gotten good wear this year and since I bought quality will last for years to come. I’m actually wearing them right now!

5) Front-wheel drives kick ass in the snow. No matter the car, if you have front wheel drive you’re good to go. Even my VW Cabrio convertible braved the snow and totally kicked ass! I only got stuck once and that was because the snow was deeper than my car.

6) AAA – A total must have! My AAA membership pulled me out of the snow bank and gave me jump start when the battery died b/c of sub-zero temperatures. I let this membership go briefly when I was in TN, but it’s since been reinstated.

Hopefully, this will be the last of the snow this year.I’m just a nicer person in the summer.  I’m counting the days until Memorial Day.  However, this is my life today, so I made the best of it.

Walking down King Street, I feel like Yuri abandoning the military in Dr.Zhivago.
Walking down King Street, I feel like Yuri abandoning the military in Dr.Zhivago.
Unless your Lactose intolerant, there's no milk at the Safeway
Unless your Lactose intolerant, there's no milk at the Safeway
Fortunately, there's still wine!
Fortunately, there's still wine!
And toilet paper!
And toilet paper!
For once 395 had no traffic!
For once 395 had no traffic!
Snow up to my knees made for a Rocky IV in Siberia moment.
Snow up to my knees made for a Rocky IV in Siberia moment.
Traffic jam on King Street
Traffic jam on King Street
I live on the 3rd floor, but snow continues to accumulate.
I live on the 3rd floor, but snow continues to accumulate.