Hurricaning on the East Coast

Three weeks after we moved to Mobile, Alabama, Hurricane Katrina roared into the Gulf Coast. We lived downtown at the time, in a flood zone, so we closed all our hurricane shutters, put the bookshelves in the middle of the rooms, took our essentials and bunkered down at the University where my husband worked at the time. It turned out to be overkill, but we took the warnings seriously (and Katrina could have turned closer to us, so it's a decision I stand by).

In the end, we drove back home to find our power out (for a few days) and a few tiles that fell off the roof, but no serious damage. Downtown Mobile (closer to the Bay) was flooded up to about my shoulder height (judging by the watermarks, I don't recall the official estimates) but where our house was was far enough away to sustain no damage.

And that's how I learned what a difference being uphill makes.

When we bought our house in Mobile, nine months later, we avoided the flood zone. And we took the recommendation we were given and cut down 5 or 6 pine trees that were close enough to the house to do real damage. (One of them was so rotten inside, we were shocked it hadn't fallen during Katrina.)

After hurricanes and tropical storms (nothing
major during the four years we lived there) we gathered up downed tree limbs and counted our blessings.

Most everyone in the US living along the coast knows they are in hurricane country, and should be aware of the basics of hurricane preparation.

The northeast does not see very many hurricanes, though, and quick Wikipedia check taught me that the furthest in California a hurricane has gotten was "just north of SF" in the 30s, I think. There was one that came close to Alaska which everyone agreed was freakish.

But we all know weather is unpredictable. So, while I didn't expect any named hurricanes coming along our way anytime soon here in Northern NJ, I'm not shocked, either. Nor am I overly anxious about it.

Irene's made landfall now. (And weakened, as my five years of hurricane watching -- and NOAA -- predicted.) And she's still headed this way, up the northeast corridor, straight towards (in most estimates) Long Island/ Connecticut.

NYC may or may not be hit hard. I'm thinking not, but preparation doesn't hurt.

But the media is making this out to be an epic storm of gigantic proportions. They're freaking my family out.

And it's dangerous for the media to blow this out of proportion because to overhype one storm means if another hits soon after, no one will pay any heed to valid warnings.

Maybe they feel like people won't evacuate low lying areas/ flood zones unless they hype this up to be a storm "of unusual size." I don't know.

I do know this: there are better and worse places to be, in any storm. If you're in a bad place (a flood zone, for example, or the east side of a hurricane -- though again, this is likely to be a Tropical
storm rather than a hurricane by the time it gets to NYC), you're better off moving to a safer place. That's not fear-mongering, that's common sense.

I'm choosing to have enough food in the house and water that we'll be ok, even if we lose power and water. We didn't hoard anything but we made a grocery store run yesterday, for those essentials.

(I read of someone buying 16 packages of batteries, which seemed a little excessive, but maybe their battery needs outweigh my own.)

Life happens. Hurricanes happen. Put on your rain boots and dance while you can, that's my philosophy.

You never know what tomorrow brings.