26 August 2011

Hurricane Irene

At least it's not coming towards us - for a change!
I feel bad for all in the sights of this storm, knowing all to well what people are doing - or should be doing. Since there hasn't been a hurricane to hit the NYC general area since 1985, I have an idea most people in the area haven't been through a hurricane in the city before or been through one ever. This made me think about all the notes I made after going through Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in 2005. Everyone knows to put away the patio furniture and buy batteries, but some of the odd lessons learned (and since forgotten)  are here.

Things to do:
Mow the grass - yes, it takes time and fuel, but cleaning up after a storm in 6"+ grass is a hassle that can be avoided by a mow before the storm hits.
Make sure you know who in the neighborhood has a pool. It's very useful if you run out of water to flush toilets.
Shave your legs before the storm hits - you won't want to do it when the only water is cold and if you don't it will get on your nerves.
Buy Beer - or your spirit of choice before the put out a "state of emergency" which limits the sale of alcohol.
Wash all the dishes, ie. run the dishwasher.
Wash all dirty clothes - cleaning up after the hurricane you will change clothes several times a day. Wash.
Run the disposal w/a lemon half or bleach.

Things to have in the house:
Food - that's a given. You will tire of peanut butter much sooner than you expect, so stock up on anything that might hold well and sound good to you when totally starving after taking tree limbs to the kerb.
Fresh Fruit is great when it's hot and you've been moving limbs to the kerb all day (see a theme here?). 
Mandarin Oranges are great for this too.
Water - for you and your pets. And enough to brush your teeth with too. If you can't drink the water, you shouldn't brush your teeth with it either.
Toilet Paper, enough said.
Paper Plates - lots of them.
Trash Bags - again, lots of them - it could be weeks before household garbage is picked up.
Propane or Charcoal - or both

Things to know:
Segregate your trash such as a can for just cans and empty water bottles - those can wait for pick up, but food, etc. in another that has to go out ASAP (ie. when trash pick up starts some month after the storm - not kidding about that).
Distributions Centers are usually determined prior to a storm, so check ahead or listen to the local radio station. If all stations are down, be on the look out for police or National Guard units – they can direct you. The lines will be long, but get in them – designate someone for each day. Look at it this way; you'll be in the cool air conditioning of your car – take a book or magazine – read as the line creeps along. And stock up on anything you can. I used to look at the lines after hurricanes and say, "why didn't those people buy ice before the storm?" Well, they did, but ice melts fast in the summer in the south. You need ice almost daily. Sure, you could buy it, but to be honest, you'll need that money for other things. Take the ice. Take the MREs. Take what you can, but not more than you'll need.
The National Guard walking down your street with M16s is a comforting feeling when there is no light for in any direction. 
Police escorts – aren't just for presidents and governors. The police will provide escorts for utility vehicles and debris removal. Be aware and let them do their job. It will help you in the long run.

Most importantly, realize that everyone is in the same situation you are in and yes, it sucks. You'll get to know your neighbors better - in good ways mostly and you'll have a story to share with everyone else that went through it too. 

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