I survived my first hurricane. Actually by the time it arrived in the Gulf Coast, Pensacola only felt Tropical Storm Isaac, not the category one Hurricane Isaac that visited New Orleans. So for me this was only a test to see if I am ready for the real thing. I found out I’m not even close to being ready.
As soon as the weather channel said the storm MAY head to the Gulf Coast all the batteries, water bottles, water containers and gas containers were sold out. This was a lesson I learned the hard way when I went to a nearby Walmart to pick up some canned food and some extra batteries. The store wasn’t particularly busy for a weekend, although I could have done without people “parking” their carts in the aisles while they stocked up on a hundred containers of bottled water. Rumors spread through Walmart that they had already run out of water earlier in the day. This was only 10:00 a.m. and the staff was now busily restocking the shelves with water bottles as new stock came in off the trucks. People were in full hoarding mode, grabbing stacks of 32 plastic bottles packaged in huge wrapped bundles for only $5. My thought was on the miserly side. Why not grab every plastic container in the house and fill them with “free” tap water instead? Why are people allowed to grab two or three or more bundles of water bottles leaving nothing for the other customers?
I walked over to the canned goods aisle. All the canned meals were gone! My option was to survive up to a week or more without electricity eating canned beans. Yummy. I grabbed various fresh ingredients to make my own Steak and Vegetable soup in the Crockpot, with plans to bake two loaves of Blueberry Bread, Tollhouse Pan Cookies, frozen bread dough to make some fresh bread and some containers of Cranberry Juice. Turning to the other side of the store I decided to see if there were any large batteries for sale. The entire selection of batteries was wiped out. I looked at the empty white wall for about ten seconds. This was a Saturday and the storm wasn’t supposed to arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday. It looks like I’m not the only person ill prepared for a storm, waiting until the last minute; then running around like a bunch of ants.
If nothing else the dogs wouldn’t starve. I stopped at Tractor Supply and bought a 40# bag of Taste of the Wild kibble, and then filled every available container with water for the dogs. There weren’t enough containers large enough to hold water for me if I had to survive without city water. Oops.
At the gas station I lucked out and just happened to drive up as someone was leaving. No waiting in long lines. A woman next to me had several plastic gas containers in the back of her pickup which she filled up in addition to her truck’s gas tank. I had been lectured by my neighbor that I needed as much gas as possible to drive out of state should the storm become a category five, the highest and most dangerous level. While he detailed his end of the world experiences with hurricanes I zoned off in my mind and thought of loading three dogs and a cat in my Subaru and driving to a safe zone. I shrugged and looked at him mildly. “The animals and I will stay here. We’ll be fine.” Woman’s intuition told me there wasn’t anything to worry about. If this was my time to die I would be at home surrounded by my dogs and cat. So be it.
The storm arrived Tuesday just as I was sitting down to eat my Steak and Vegetable soup. Two bands of heavy rain and wind tore around the house. Then the rain stopped and the strong wind remained for the rest of the week. We had a couple more puny rain bands but otherwise remained dry. The electricity never even flickered, although one major road nearby lost power.
That was my brush with my first hurricane. I have survived the remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms as a child living in New England. This experience last week couldn’t even be labeled an “event”. The dogs, my canine weather alarm system, didn’t freak out; their feet barely got wet when they ventured outside. Had this been a really badass storm I’d have been woefully unprepared. The generator parked in the garage didn’t even get a trial run, since I don’t own power cords to attach to appliances in the house. I need a lot of dog towels, more BIG water containers and I need to return to my hippie days and can my own vegetables in the early summer. I was lucky. This time.