8/26/2011

What to Expect from Hurricane Irene From Looking Back at Hurricane Ike

I may live in Houston now but I spent the first 32 years of my life on the East coast and my family and many friends are there. I can't help but be concerned and pay attention to the forecasted track of Hurricane Irene. Right now the outer bands are already hitting coastal North Carolina where one of my coworkers lives and where I have vacationed. It's expected to have some impact on Richmond, where my sister is giving birth today. It will likely rip right through Bethany Beach where my mom's beloved beach house sits just off the beach and only raised on about two foot stilts. Oh dear.

Mom's Beach House
Goodbye awesome beachhouse, sure was nice while it lasted.


What you may not know or remember is that just a couple weeks after moving from Philadelphia to Houston, we were hit head-on by Hurricane Ike...the last hurricane to directly impact the U.S. Lucky for you I blogged all about it! So maybe you can learn a little bit from my experience as you prepare for Irene.

First there was the realization a few days before that we were screwed. 
Screwed
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So we actually ended up serving as shelter for evacuated friends/family and all their pets. This was a good thing because be nervous with a group is much better than being nervous alone. We had not yet met any of our neighbors or anyone else, so had they not come we would have felt pretty isolated. Plus they brought THEIR very experienced hurricane kit with them...which included beer.

The number one thing you can plan for is to be without power for a very long time. Think weeks. Just the widespread nature of a hurricane makes it so hard for utilities to get around to fixing everyone quickly. So get water and non-perishable foods. Things like peanut butter and bread, crackers, granola bars, nuts, trail-mix. Stuff with protein that you don't have to heat up or add milk to. And get plenty of extra batteries for your flashlights and a crank/battery powered radio would be good. Smart phones are awesome for keeping tabs on radar when the power goes out but use them sparingly if you have no generator to charge them back up with. You'll likely only be able to text, not call out, with your cell phone for awhile afterwards. 

If you have a gas grill, make sure you've got propane and store it INSIDE during the storm. Take absolutely everything inside, your plants, your furniture, your grill, your kids sandbox. Everything not nailed down. Several of our neighbors had their wooden playsets destroyed and trampolines were blown clear over fences. 


That was hours ahead of the heart of the storm. It got much scarier and you can find a little more video on my Flickr site. We also had this amazing sunset at the start of the storm. 
Pink Storm Sky

But I really don't want to ever go through that again. Houston was a wreck after Hurricane Ike and it was a hard and slow recovery. I will say though, I was so impressed with the way Houstonites handled everything and helped one another out.

Read more details about my experience:

I really would love it if you'd drop me a comment if you're in Irene's path and what you're doing about it. I'd be happy to answer any questions. 

2 comments:

Sarah Hubbell said...

I am not in the path of Irene, but my niece is. She just started her freshman college orientation, and it seems to include a hurricane.  I guess she'll never forget it.

Sarah Hubbell said...

Wow yeah...she'll certainly have stories to tell for years to come. 

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