As a Houston native, hurricanes and tropical storms are not uncommon natural occurrences. Perhaps fewer than you might expect but I doubt there was a school year that went by where we did not have at least one flood day. As a family or individually, the Lioness clan has lived through some notable storms: 1983’s Hurricane Alicia (I lost my hurricane virginity at the wee age of 1!); 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison (which saw the first ever mobile army surgical hospital, or MASH, set up in non-war conditions due to its devastating impact on the world-class Texas Medical Center); 2005’s Hurricane Rita (and heavily impacted by the infamous Hurricane Katrina); and 2008’s Hurricane Ike (first time the Lioness Clan had to evacuate Houston temporarily because of sustained power outages). Suffice it to say, we have some massive storm experience under our belt and below is how we chose to prepare for the latest storm to enter the history books, Sandy.
Go Shopping & Buy Bran Flakes, Lots & Lots of Bran Flakes: The news and government agencies will advise to make sure you have an ample supply of bottled water, batteries, flashlights, and nonperishable food. People like to add toilet paper to that mix. For Sandy, jars of nuts, apple sauce, and canned tomato soup were very popular. We went with bran flakes. And milk. But mostly bran flakes. Why you might ask. No real reason except it’s the cereal we can all agree upon. However the bran flakes were in my sister’s shopping cart. Here is what was in mine – clearly my priorities were in better order, no?:
Take a Road Trip!: The last full day before the storm hits is the perfect day to take a day trip to a popular tourist location. In our case, we chose to visit the Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg, PA to celebrate Mumsy’s birthday the following day. The farm is run by the National Park Service and with no parking lot at the site, we had to take a shuttle from the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center – all of this is to say that while you may think that the Eisenhower farm would be quiet on any day you visit, both the Gettysburg Visitor Center and farm were ghost towns (rimshot?). Perfect for getting one-on-one attention from the rangers and thus the chance to ask the really obscure questions. In summary, while everyone else finishes their last-minute preparations, get out and enjoy yourself!
Use Your Cat as the Family Barometer: Animals are known to have a sixth sense about the weather. Change in barometric pressure means change in the weather and thus change in Mopsy’s behavior. Usually it means she goes into deep, deep hiding. Except when of course the storm with the lowest barometric pressure ever happens to roll through town. Then Mopsy will simply curl up on the bed and sleep the day away. “Oh! Was that a massive wind gust? No biggie – I’ll simply return to my daily nap.”
Plan for the Appropriate Activities During the Storm: You could watch TV. But if it’s a network station, every spare moment will be devoted to either the storm’s approach, the storm’s arrival, and the storm’s departure/damage. You only take the newscasters, meteorologists, and on-the-scene reporters saying pretty much the same thing over and over so many times. The rest of daytime TV is not that great. You might catch a well-remembered episode of 90210 or Dawson’s Creek but chances are slim. Plus if the storm is that bad, continuous TV watching is far from guaranteed. With hours of unscheduled time looming, the Lioness Clan will take to bed and begin the following cycle: read, sleep, read, venture out for food and drink, read, sleep. So on and so forth. (For this storm, we never lost power so I worked during all daylight hours. Not as fun.)
That about wraps up how the Lioness Clan prepared and tackled Hurricane Sandy. We are quite thankful that we never lost power (thank you buried power lines), experienced no flooding (thank you well-developed drainage system & location on a hill), and never saw a leak (thank you well-built newer house).
We did our best to look after the Peaceful Kingdom (including the raccoons – do not get me started!) and they all made it through in one piece.
Watching the images from the aftermath in NYC and NJ today took my breath away. From the mini-Niagara Falls at the World Trade Center, to the 30+ ambulances lined up around the block at NYU Hospital, to the images of a dark lower Manhattan, water gushing in the NJ and NYC subway systems, historic piers being blown to bits… Yowza.
Thoughts to all affected by Sandy!
Tess, the Lioness