I've had my eye on Hurricane Irma for over a week now. Last Friday, I saw that the fall decorating items I've kept my eyes on had been reduced to 60% off, plus I had a coupon for 20% off. As I put double A batteries in the lighted autumnal trees that I bought, I said, "Next week, if we're facing a hurricane, and we need these batteries, I can take them back out of these trees."
I was sort of joking and sort of not. And here we are, almost a week later, and it's still not clear how this storm will affect the continental U.S. Based on what I saw when I was out and about yesterday, the panic has set in. Every gas station that still had gas had a line yesterday afternoon and evening. If we feel storm effects, we won't feel them until Saturday morning. I was surprised to see lines at the gas stations.
I went to Trader Joe's before meeting a friend for dinner. I had a nice chat with a heavily tattooed staff person who said she admired my attitude. I said, "Because I came straight to the wine section?" Later I realized that many people were there hoping to get some water.
I don't understand this quest for bottled water. At some point in the next few days, I'll fill up every container that I have with water from the tap--water that I've already paid for. If it looks really bad, we'll fill up the bathtub, and we also have a swimming pool, which we can use for flushing, if the water supply is disrupted.
As I moved through Trader Joe's, my inner Sociologist was intrigued to see what people had been buying. I was somewhat surprised to see that there was still so much beer and wine--but every bag of chips was gone. The bread was gone, and a stocker was refilling the apples and pears which had been wiped out. Most of the prepared trail mix was gone, but individual components like nuts and seeds and dried fruit were still plentiful. I bought two dozen eggs; if it looks like we'll get hit, I'll hard boil them, and in the days leading up to impact, if there's an impact, I may do some baking.
Last night, I felt uneasiness as I realized that we didn't have enough propane as I would like. I called a few stores, but everyone was out. Then it occurred to us that we often get a head start thawing meat (hamburger and fish) by putting it outside, where if we're not careful, it starts to cook. Worst case cooking scenario: we'll become pros at solar cooking! I seem to remember a Girl Scout solar oven project that involved a box and some tin foil.
Right now, we're still planning to shelter in place. After I got an e-mail from my sister telling me that we should stay safe and if that meant evacuation, we could stay with her, I went to the Southwest Air site in the late afternoon. On Wednesday and Thursday, every flight out of Ft. Lauderdale is sold out; on Friday, all but 2 are sold out.
Of course, I'm not usually looking at flights that are leaving in the next day or two--maybe they routinely sell out. Our Labor Day flights would have been sold out if I had been looking to book the day before.
For a hurricane moving south to north, it's hard to escape, unless we left today. And I'm worried about running out of gas or getting stuck in traffic of others who are fleeing. One of my colleagues, a native Floridian, is staying put; I asked if he had gone through Andrew, and he said that they wanted him to evacuate and would have sent him to Homestead, right in the path of the storm. With his years of experience and his advanced degrees in environmental science, I found his calm approach refreshing. He, too, will fill containers and the bathtub. He has half a tank of gas and isn't worried about it.
On my way to spin class this morning, I'll put gas in the car, if any of the stations along the way have some gas. And then we're about as ready as we can be.