What does it take to get ready for a hurricane?
I grew up in central Ohio. So - I had tornado drills growing up . . . not hurricane drills.
Further, I have lived on the East Coast north of New Jersey for the last nine years. So - I have come to expect Nor'easters, public transportation annoyances, and a collective obsession with baseball . . . not hurricane warnings. Then came Irene.
My first reaction to the talk about a hurricane coming toward us several days after we had been surprised by an earthquake was, "Oh. Okay. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the hurricane. Right. Got it. That makes perfect sense. First an earthquake, now a hurricane. Obv." Maybe I have experienced too many warnings about huge snow storms Heading Straight For New York City only to end up underwhelmed and trudging to work in dirty slush.
By Thursday morning, the idle talk in the hallways at work was focused on hurricane preparedness. That night, my husband and I decided to go ahead and get some bottled water and the ingredients to make enchiladas verdes from our online grocery service. (I apparently believed that hurricane-preparedness meant getting ready to eat comfort food, watch a movie, and listen to the rain.)
On Friday afternoon, after an email about evacuation from the head of operations at my firm, I started to believe that we might need more than bottled water and cheesey goodness to get through "the storm."
So after Bug woke up from his nap on Friday (I was home with him that day), we headed out to get supplies. First stop: our local hardware store. Out of flashlights. Any suggestions about where I could pick some up in the neighborhood? Nope.
In a thoughtful and some might say heroic move, my husband came home early on Friday. When he met us on the sidewalk, I was in the throes of imagining having to scour Myrtle Avenue for flashlights and batteries while other (more intelligent) people in the neighborhood went home and put checkmarks by each item on their perfectly organized lists of Things To Get Before Irene Shows Up In All Her Fury. Before I could even tell my husband that the hardware store was out of flashlights, he showed me his booty from the neighborhood where he works: a flashlight, a lantern(!), and batteries.
(I was not exaggerating when I used the word "heroic.")
The only thing we still needed from Myrtle Ave was candles. We stopped into our local Green Store (selling all things eco-friendly) and purchased a motley assortment of candles. My husband also picked out a dishcloth. I never asked him why (perhaps because my own impulse buys at this Green Store were hair products).
Later that night, I snuck out of bathtime to try to add applesauce to our online grocery order -- only to find out that almost all grocery orders for the weekend were cancelled.
By Saturday morning, the mood in the neighborhood (and, more importantly, in our apartment) was anxious. My husband and I took turns somewhat compulsively checking the internet for information about what to expect and when to expect it. I learned about Go Bags, which did not exactly mitigate my anxiety.
We came up with a plan of sorts. First, our local grocery store, a place I generally try to avoid because of, among other things, its smell. We let go of the idea of enchiladas and got bottled water, granola bars, bread, peanut butter, almond milk (for Bug), toilet paper, cereal, and applesauce.
Next, after I got fixated on having our car parked off the street and in a garage, we decided to pick up our CSA distribution, drop off the car, and come home before the wind or rain started. We stood in the hall outside our apartment with Bug in his stroller, our compost ready for drop-off at the farmer's market, and our reusable bags ready for the CSA pick-up, and we pushed the button for the only one of two elevators that was functioning in our building this weekend. That's right. Only one of the elevators worked on Saturday. While we waited, we heard the bell from the "operational" elevator. The bell is rung by people who get stuck in the elevator in our building. In an effort to avoid waiting for a stalled elevator (or, worse, getting stuck in an elevator ourselves), I offered to watch Bug while my husband took care of the car, the compost, and the CSA.
By "watch" my little Fraggle Bug, I meant that I would lie down on the couch next to him while he watched Sesame Street. I suppose at this point, I am supposed to confess some sort of guilt for having let my child watch as much television as he requested this weekend. Instead, I have to confess that I treasure those little educational muppet monsters for all they are worth - especially when I am over 34 weeks pregnant and trying to prepare for a hurricane.
By Saturday afternoon, we needed to get out of the apartment for some last breaths of fresh air before Irene would bring whatever she would have in store for us. Oh, and I should confess that I "needed" to get some chocolate before the storm. Apparently, I am the stereotypical pregnant lady, and the longer I have to wait for a potential emergency situation, the more time I have to daydream about all of the junk food that is non-perishable.
We purchased some chocolates, some cookies, and a few more bottles of water.
After Bug's bedtime and our own dinners, it was time to admit that we were going to bed, and that while we were sleeping, a hurricane was supposed to arrive. So we engaged in the strange dance of getting the apartment ready. I put batteries in the flashlight and put the flashlight next to my side of the bed (along with my cell phone). I filled the bathtub with water. I put our new candles in the bathroom with a lighter, in case the three of us needed to move to the bathroom in the middle of the night to escape windows. My husband shut the windows and did the dishes. He put trash bags up on the sides of our window a/c units -- including (very stealthily) the one in Bug's room. We put an old sheet on the window sill in Bug's room to sop up any water that managed to come in around the a/c unit. We put dish towels on the window sill in our room for the same reason. I turned up the baby monitor.
The thing that really worried me was that Irene was supposed to start up around 2am. I was afraid that I would not know if we needed to move to the bathroom for the night until it was too late. I was afraid that I would not be able to grab Bug from his crib fast enough. I told my husband I was not sure I could sleep while Bug was in the other room by himself. About ten minutes later, using his Baby-Momma-ESP, Bug called out for us. So he ended up in our bed, which probably comforted me as much as him.
Around 1:30am, the real wind and rain started. I kept getting up to check the trees to see if they were coming down or flying out of the ground or whatever they might do. I got up to add more lining to the window sills, which were getting soaked. I got up to pee (several times). Around 5am, Bug started grumbling and getting upset. Then he was crying and could not get comfortable. The poor thing was having some GI issues, but they didn't really resolve themselves until around 6. And then again at 630. And again around 8.
By mid-day the hurricane was gone, and our afternoon trip to the playground has never been such a sweet relief. All of our windows are intact. The bathtub of water was unnecessary. The cookies were delicious. I am happy to have bottles and bottles of water. The flashlights, the lantern, the batteries, and the candles all went unused, but the impulse buy of a dishtowel came in quite handy.