This past winter I scoffed at the weather reports when a winter storm warning was forecast. I'm from Northeast Ohio. Seriously. They don't know from winter storms out here, I thought. I have to admit, however, we did have a couple of doozies. Over a foot of wet, heavy snow fell one night, crippling much of the East Coast, and keeping us busy digging out the driveway all day long. By and large, however, the "storms" that dismissed schools early and sent people to the store for emergency supplies were nothing more than a few inches of dry snow. I scoff at that.
I am not scoffing today, however, as I watch Hurricane Irene head up the coast straight for me. I had not anticipated facing the most dire hurricane warnings for this area in the past five years by myself. Well, the dogs are here, of course. But Ben flew out yesterday to attend his father's birthday party, and Julie and Andrew have very kindly taken in friends who had to evacuate a truly dangerous area along the coast. So it's just me. And I haven't even the slightest idea how to prepare for something like this.
Before Ben left, he rounded up all the flashlights and candles in the house and made sure that I had a transistor radio with working batteries in it. I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought some big bottles of water. Got home and realized I should have gotten some toilet paper too. (Isn't that one of the things people always scoop up in situations like this?) To further prepare, I have done probably pointless things like do the laundry and run the dishwasher. I can, of course, just turn on my television or check the newspaper for lists of supplies I should be laying in. It is probably too late to buy a generator, however, and what the heck would I do with it when I got it home anyway? It would be nice to have some large, battery-operated lanterns, but I am sure those are all gone, as well.
Living where I do, west of Baltimore, I am not so much worried about the hurricane as the aftermath. I know it will rain here for a long time and the wind will blow, but unlike our house in Kent, we have no big trees at all near us so there is no danger of a tree falling on the house or on my unprotected car. The drain outside the basement door is clear, so water will probably not seep in there as it did during the last big storm we had. The backyard will fill up with water, I know, and I fear that our second cherry tree will not survive having its roots soaked again, but I realize these are minor things.
The thing I really fear - and fear is not too strong a word - is a prolonged power outage. I'm not good at power outages. I can hear my family laughing now as they read this. I am terrible at power outages. I just don't know what to do with myself when the power goes off. I can't get on the computer. I can't watch tv. If it is dark out, of course I can't see. My cell phone will only hold its charge for so long without electricity. The A.C. will not work, and the air will become hot and stuffy. The sump pump won't work, and then the basement really will take on water. (Ben's instructions on what to save first were not encouraging.) And, really, the most horrible thing about it is not knowing when power will be restored. I can't tell you how much I am dreading this.
And yet there is this underlying hope that I don't even want to acknowledge that maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe the weather forecasters are over reacting just like they did about impending snow storms. See, I just don't know. And that is what I hate the most.