It has been a few days since Tropical Storm Irene became Hurricane Irene. We live on St Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Irene formed right over our heads. All through Sunday night we sat in a darkened house while her 50 mph winds and horizontal rain beat a steady hard bass rhythm on our tin roof overhead. And even though she didn't do more than drop several inches of rainwater and mow down some branches and drop a few trees, I am exhausted.
A lot of work goes into being prepared for a hurricane or even a tropical storm, and no matter how much work you do, there will always be something you forgot to do. You have to make sure there is enough food to eat, drinking water and non potable water to flush the toilet when the current (the Crucian word for electricity) goes out. And it will go out. You have to make sure all those chores you need electricity for are completed: clothes washed, dishes washed, (buy paper plates) house clean enough so you don't trip on things stumbling around in the dark, phones, computers, cameras, and game systems all need to be charged. And don't forget to have candles and flashlights in a ready place, as well as a deck of cards or a favorite family board game to pass the time and distract you from the storm outside. A goodly supply of batteries is a must as well.
We found that when the current went out at our house, we had to replace a lot of batteries by candlelight and didn't have enough batteries for our emergency radio. Get gas for your car, gas for your generator and extra cash from the bank - just in case. Remember that ATMs and gas pumps run on electricity, too. And people with pets have as much work to do keeping them comfortable, safe and calm during a big storm.
By the time you think you are finished running errands and prepping the house, car and yard -bringing in all the plants and outdoor furniture, securing trash barrels - the most difficult part begins: the waiting.
Waiting for a potential disaster consumes a lot of energy. Although it makes you feel anxious, it is exciting in a weird way, much like waiting to go to the most popular kid's birthday party, but knowing that raging out of control bully will also be at the party. And he will punch you in the arm. Several times. Hard. He'll probably pants you as well.
With Tropical Storm Irene, the sounds of the storm when it hit full on were frightening. The wind screeched through cracks in the walls and between the spaces in the windows. The rain pummeled without letting up. Tree branches crackled. And it was more intense because everything was so dark.
Tropical Storm Irene was a doozy. And when she passed over us, she was only a lowly tropical storm.
Now, she is a cat 2 hurricane (expected to be cat 3 by 8 a.m. Friday) moving towards North Carolina and other populated Eastern cities. I can't imagine what she will do with even more energy, as she was so angry and intense last week before she grew up.
I would urge anyone in her path to take her seriously. Be safe rather than sorry. Our web video on The Source has had over 45, 000 hits and if you watched it, it can't convey the intensity of what we really felt that night. What the video does show is how quickly it rolled in: Now you don't see her, now you do.
Please, be prepared. Be smart. If you are in her path, get out. If Irene was a maniac as a lowly tropical storm, she is a Super Bitch as a hurricane.
(Written by Tori Baur, posted by John)