It's amazing that the same family that can plan ahead and bring mosquito net hats and rain suits to Alaska can be so woefully unprepared for a hurricane.
I had been purposely avoiding the 24/7 hyped TV coverage, but by last Friday, I decided to assemble our emergency items in case of power loss. Sure, we had lots of candles (with conflicting scents that, if used, would have had us drunk and dizzy on the overpowering aromas of cookie dough, winter wonderland and clean linen). But here was our working flashlight supply:
|A key ring flashlight from The Boulders Resort in AZ|
So, off I trotted to join the panicked herds searching for batteries and flashlights. I considered adding water, canned beans, tuna, and peanut butter to the list, but somehow when I got to the supermarket, I found my basket loaded with perishables: fresh fruit, steak, fish, ice cream. Who buys fish and ice cream when they're anticipating a power outage?
Needless to say, clerks in hardware and convenience stores laughed when I asked for flashlights. Some who were already weary had placed signs up and would point in exasperation. No conversation needed. But wouldn't we be craving the sound of our fellowman's voice, if the storm really struck with full force and we were imprisoned with only our family?
A more careful inventory of garage and basement revealed a few more gems. I had double AA's to power a yellow plastic flashlight that had been a Pharma giveaway. The handle was broken, but the light worked. Thank you, cytovene. Gary produced two headlamps from his backpack and proclaimed that was all we needed. But I persisted and found a Sears plastic toolbox, hidden behind empty gas cans on a shelf in the garage. Opening the lid, I found a bonanza:
- two round nightlights that looked like the Easy button on the Staples commercials
- a vintage army style flashlight with interchangeable purple, red and clear filters, a leftover from Scott's high school dalliance with the Civil Air Patrol
Feeling pretty smug now, I took a walk around the neighborhood and was shocked to see that some people had duct-taped windows with big X's and one guy had rigged an elaborate system of pvc piping, so that all his gutters and leaders would drain directly to the street-an impressive engineering feat.
|all connected up to..|
|..the long pvc pipe to the street|
Who cared that it was 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, T minus 8 hours until Irene struck? I raced to the local hardware stores to get some green extenders for my leaders. I knew I couldn't make it to the curb, but at least I'd track them further away from the house. Laughable. "You should have come Thursday," the young kid shrugged his shoulders. Undaunted, I knew I had duct tape at home and contemplated x'ing my kitchen picture window.
But then I knew--who would remove that tape the next day, razor blade away the remaining adhesive and besides what was the principle here? Did it really strengthen the window or just assure that the glass would blow out in neat, triangular pieces instead of a thousand tiny shards?
Cooler heads prevailed. I opened the wine, cooked the fish and settled in for our hurricane night.
Like all non-planners, I vowed in the aftermath to re-think my emergency procedures. I've got a to-do list for a few weeks from now, when stores have replenished their supplies, to buy a Coleman lantern, a better flashlight, D batteries, leader extenders, a radio, gallon jugs of water, etc. and I know I put that list somewhere.....