Friday, October 7, 2016

Hurricane Gratitudes and Lessons for Next Time

I am surprised to be here with electricity, writing a blog post, sipping freshly brewed coffee.  Let me clarify:  I expected to be here, just not with electricity.  This time yesterday, I was sure we would be without power, and if we were lucky, it would only last for several days.  I was still worried about the storm wobbling west with stronger winds than we were expecting.

But then I went to this site on the NOAA website which gives a weather forecast based on a zip code--much more specific than just one region.  I began to think we would stay put.  But I still didn't feel secure enough to leave the rest of the non-secured items outside.  We spent an hour moving the last of the furniture and the bicycles to the cottage.

We were lucky:  we didn't get much more in terms of wind than we usually do in any given storm.  And we got much less rain.  And had the hurricane come ashore to disrupt our lives for weeks, I'd have really rued my lack of preparing for that:  I realized we had fewer batteries than I thought we had, not as many canned goods, and I didn't think to get cash until it was too late.

Let me make a list, now, while I'm remembering.  What do we need to make sure we have in place well before a storm threatens us?

--Let me remember to inventory our batteries.  Or maybe pick up a few more solar inflatable lanterns

--As hurricane Hermine approached, we started hanging on to empty 2 liter containers that had held club soda.  That meant that we didn't have to run around looking for water.  We simply filled up the containers and would have had enough water to drink for at least a week.  The pool will provide water for flushing and some washing up.

--We need to figure out how to attach the aluminum shutters to the back doors and cottage doors that contain full-size windows.  We think we need wing nuts.  We should get those at some point in the next 9 months when we're at Home Depot for other things, when there's not a storm that's about to come ashore.

--We don't have a working chainsaw.  Given as many trees as we have on our property, we should probably get a working chainsaw.

--I always thought that we would shelter in place, regardless of the size of the storm.  It was sobering to watch the approach of a storm that was expecting to be a category 4 or 5 and to think about how a slight wobble west would have brought that storm on top of us.  I now know that my spouse will be willing to leave with a category 3 or higher.  We need an evacuation plan for each direction we might be required to go.  One of my work colleagues posted that the Disney resort did wonderful customer service and that they have generators and buildings that are more hurricane-proof than I would have thought.

Today I am just exhausted.  I've been averaging 4 hours of sleep a night for much of the past week; I'm grateful that I don't have to go to work, and I'm grateful that I don't have much to do in the way of clean up.  I took a nap yesterday, and I may take one today too.

I will make a donation to those less fortunate as part of my post-hurricane gratitude.  For those of you who want to contribute too, I recommend Lutheran World Relief--they've been in Haiti for decades now, and they'll stay there for decades to come, alas.  They also have a great record of actually using the money for relief instead of for staffing administrators in offices back in the U.S.  Go here to make a donation.

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