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Monday, September 8, 2008

Hurricane! What hurricane?

Last week was our first brush with severe weather. I have to say that I did not fully understand the extent to which our region is impacted by hurricanes. I thought we were far enough inland that all we would ever experience was a big dump of rain, and maybe some wind.

As Hanna vacillated between tropical storm and hurricane status it became clear that the storm would move through Raleigh. Once the arrival of Hanna was a certainty the remember-when-stories began. Everyone who lived through hurricane Fran took the opportunity to share with me just how bad these storms can be. I knew that hurricane Fran had blasted through a few years ago, but I clearly did not realize exactly what that meant. Apparently:

-16 inches of rain fell
-Streets were swallowed up by sinkholes
-School was cancelled for over a week
-Power was out for 9-14 days
-Cable and phone service was down for as much as 3 weeks
-Curfews were in place in some areas
-Trees were down everywhere -- in the streets and on top of homes and cars

This is what it looked like:

Holy cow!

Now that's the kind of stuff that gets me hustling! Suddenly I felt quite motivated to check flashlights and batteries. Pat even got up on the roof and cleared out a gutter that had gotten clogged with pine needles. We were disaster preparedness machines.

I have to say that it is weird having so much forewarning. We literally had days to get our ducks in a row. I grew up in Ohio and I can remember riding on the back of my dad's bike and looking at square concrete foundations, chimneys, and toilets. These items were all that remained after a tornado spun through and literally cleared a neighborhood. I thought it was strange that the whole house was gone, but the toilet was still bolted to the foundation. I remember the warning sirens that signaled imminent danger, but that was the extent of the advanced warning. If you didn't have a plan or supplies when the siren blew, you were out of luck. The ability to prepare is priceless.

Ultimately we didn't get much from Hanna. What we did get was this:

and this

Instead of a hurricane we ended up having a sleepover. This is a different type of natural disaster that requires equal amounts of advance preparation and risk to self and structure, but I'll cover that in a separate post. The highlight of the evening was jumping on the trampoline in the pouring rain. When I think of rain I always think it will be chilly, but if it's 80 degrees with no lightning, well, why not?! We received over 4 inches of rain in 10 hours. So it didn't take long to get good and wet.

I'll consider myself lucky to have missed a real hurricane, and I'll be the first one with fresh batteries in my flashlight if anything heads our way again!


Anonymous said...

you are so right. sleepovers are tougher than hurricanes. At least with a hurricane you know exactly what it is to prepare for. With a bunch of girls in the house it is anybody's guess

Ken said...

Hi, we followed the path of hurricane Hanna on the web, thank goodness it stayed mostly out to sea. Wondering if all the lakes in your area are now filled to capacity. Yes, if one ever came directly at you, it would still have plenty of punch left, similar to Fran I guess. Do read your blogs all the time, not always time to answer though. Some blogs have counters that show the number of hits or reads that occur. Sleepover sounds like a great time for all, what fun!