In 2003, my husband and I were on vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida. There was a hurricane speeding toward us and the only indication was the enormous waves and the caution flags that dotted the beach. People were not in a hurry to evacuate, there was not constant coverage on the TV, and most beach goers seemed pretty unconcerned. In fact, the greatest cause for alarm was the small shark that was circling through the serf. Even he didn't cause most swimmers to leave the ocean. (We were not most, we ran for the safety of our hotel room.)
Last April my family was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The day we arrived a tornado warning was issued for the county in which we were located. There were scrolls of updates streaming across the bottom of the TV screen and warning windows were popping up all over the Weather Channel maps. Again, there was little indication of concern. People were still strolling up and down the beach or sitting outside enjoying their dinner. I was myself seated on a bar stool in an open air burger joint waiting for my order to be completed. Until I asked, I didn't even know what county I was vacationing in so I was only mildly concerned. The tornado actually touched down one county over and we went about our vacation completely oblivious.
Today I sit here bombarded by doomsday predictions of Hurricane Irene, a category
Sporting events have been cancelled. States of emergency have been issued. The National Guard is organizing. Kmart has taped up its windows. People were wandering around Price Chopper last night adding random items to their carts. We bought baked goods, fruit, bread, and applesauce. All things that would sustain us in case of a power outage. We also threw in beer, yogurt, cheese, ground beef, and Cheetos just in case all this prep is for naught.
I do not live on the coast. I do not live in the Southeast. The nearest body of water, besides my neighbor's pool, is the Hudson River. Its massiveness could be easily conquered by an experienced swimmer who was willing to risk its pollution level. Even still, the police chief of my small metropolis phoned residents last night to recommend that they pack a bag and plot a course to the nearest shelter. Shelter is a pretty scary word.
Apparently, my street was one of the vulnerable roads that could be washed away if (what I thought was a mythical) damn gives way. So like a good citizen, my family's bag is packed, my refrigerator is set to its highest level, our outdoor furniture is stowed and secure, and our important papers are safe.
However when we Northeasterners panic in the wake of a blizzard, it almost always manages to miss us with never a flake in sky. But with Irene covering roughly the square mileage of Europe, will we be that lucky?
In case our Irish heritage doesn't fully shield us in the next 48 hours, here is some advice you might not think of:
1. Do all of your laundry, the power may be out for awhile.
2. Don't put all of your drinks in the fridge, see #1.
3. Move your car to a spot that is not directly in line of a falling tree.
4. Change your sheets, you might suddenly have a lot of spare time in the dark.
Stay safe friends!