Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Season Approaches

I suppose there are a lot of people who plan their lives around some regularly occurring cycle. Farmers, retailers, teachers and in the coastal southeast everyone plans around hurricanes. I am not the old hand some folks can claim to be. I have only experienced seven or eight direct hits and several sideswipes. Now that I think about it, that’s quite a few. We have hurricane preparation stuff on TV, and Radio. We have tracking maps in the news paper. In season we watch the coast of Africa with the corner of the eye, so to speak, for six months. This is all very low key, but we're paying attention. There is advice a plenty for the novice storm watcher.

All the hoopla about getting ready is misleading. The best way to get ready, is to never be, not ready. Have the water (or plans to get it), batteries, food, and what ever it will take to see you through a couple of weeks available, always. Sound pretty ambitious, not really. Major cities below sea level are a special case, so we won't address their problems. In our bailiwick most areas are above the one hundred year flood plain. After a couple of recent years complacency among emergency planners isn't a problem. Most folks on my street have generators, gas grills and lawn sprinklers, and chain saws (I have three). I have a hand pump. Unless there is a massive strike that floods major roads, and we have had those, getting food and fuel in can be done. If there is fuel, then we will have the ability to cook, wash, communicate, and live fairly normally. We may be a little weird, but most people I know have their stock piles, and only have to rotate a few things.

There are lists available of things to lay in, meds and money are very important. In this age a stock of batteries is in most homes. I will have fifty gallons of gas for the generator, it's in the boat. The Bronco holds twenty four,and I have six five gallon cans. I keep six or so twenty pound LP tanks, and one forty pounder. The camper will hold the stock of foods and be strapped to the truck. If that blows away, ten thousand pounds, we have other problems. Something that we will do is cover the front window. If the windows blow in it will pressurize the house and take the roof off. The weather service always gives the max sustained winds and gusts, those numbers come from about two hundred feet up. Down on the ground, it's always much less, thank goodness for that. The trees and buildings provide turbulence that reduces air velocity at ground level. The unknowable that will kill you is tornadoes, most wind fatalities come from small twisters.

If you wait to get ready just before the storm hits, expect to suffer. The store shelves will empty as people who aren't ready, or even thinking about it, rush in to stock up. The gas lines will be long, ATM's will run out of money, and inevitably prices will go up. I will go soon to replenish stocks of staples, canned goods, toilet paper, all the essentials.

Part of my family is an object lesson in "What you should never do" in storm response. First and most important, a cat five storm is the wrath of God. If it is coming, run away, very far, as fast as you can. Which way? Use the lesson of the runaway train. If you must run from a runaway train, don't run down the tracks. It will catch you. My brother in law, God bless him and keep him, decided to run away. He took my daughter, my mother In law, his wife and two daughters, two yapping dogs and two cars. He ran down the storm track to another brother in law's house. This poor unfortunate had his wife, mother in law, a couple of daughters, and two more yapping dogs. You can total that up, I don't think I can stand it. Most of these ladies, and I love them all, have never seen a truly well day in their lives. They are Southern ladies and though they tolerate each other, it's just hard to get along. Trouble on the horizon, as I live and breathe, and that's before the wind starts to blow.

Fortunately for one and all, the storm didn't make land fall as a five, three I think. There was enough rain to make you look for animals pairing up, and think seriously about looking for gopher wood. The waters rose,,,,,and rose,,,,and then rose some more. I started to worry some when the Coast Guard started to round up coffins that had come out of the ground, and two hundred pound hogs were drowning while hanging in the tree tops. Back at the brother in law's house the fun began. A very large tree fell on the house and a couple of cars. The lights went out. The river cut the town off from all exits, trapped like rats they were. The next disaster was courtesy of the city, the water failed, and to make life just a little more fun, they ran out of toilet paper. No matter all the other little inconveniences, never, never, never allow the toilet paper to run low. About this time they started to miss the visiting brother in law, he had found out the dude next door was really prepared, tons of beer on ice. God love him he was willing to share. They were trapped in that little slice of perdition for almost a week. The girls, wanting to share their burdens with the brother in law, made sure to keep him close by, out of reach of the beer. If the brother in law had committed suicide, we would have all understood.

I am so glad the love of my life is more than a little muley, she will not leave the area for any storm. That may cost us one day, but it kept her out of that melee.
I'm going tomorrow to get a case of toilet paper.

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