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Riding Out Hurricane Irene

Posted Aug 26 2011 12:00am



I'm in Virginia Beach. Directly in the path of Hurricane Irene. Right under that circular area.

We've been hearing about it for a few days. There's a hurricane a-coming, there's a hurricane a-coming. I had to get through a reshoot of the Bausch+Lomb commercial on Tuesday (oh, yes, we had to reshoot it, and it went WAY better than I ever thought it might), an earthquake on Tuesday as well, the beginning of school on Wednesday - so I couldn't really devote much thought to it before then. Besides, I've been through this before, several times and it's almost always not as bad as "they" say.

Knowing this, we had a discussion, my husband and I, and I thought it might be better to be safe than sorry. I refilled prescriptions Wednesday - between school supply runs. I filled the van with gas. The weather forecasters predicted a category 3 or 4 landing on our shores Saturday. We've been through a category 1 storm, in 2003 - and we were out of power for 6 days. The generator saved our butt last time, as we hooked up the refrigerator and a portable a/c unit so that we didn't roast.

We ate a lot of cold stuff that week. And took an awful lot of cold showers.

I went to the grocery store Wednesday night to buy supplies. At that time, there was still a moderate amount of bottled water and as I grabbed 16 jugs - all I could fit in the cart - I felt a bit foolish. The vast majority of the people in the store were shopping regularly - not a lot of bottled water in their carts, still buying ice cream and refrigerated foods. I kinda felt silly, filling my shopping cart with cans of soup, gross and disgusting requested spaghetti-o's and ramen, and batteries.There weren't many batteries, but I was able to score a 8 pack of D's, an 8 pack of C's and a metric ton of AA's.

Thursday the outcome looked more bleak for us. Stores began to empty of bread, bottled water and canned foods.The news began running extended shows, focusing on being prepared. I refilled the gas in the van, my oldest son pulled out the generator and cleaned it off. I thought, briefly, about the half empty propane tank and realized that I'd need to get the spare filled. I decided to pick up the kids at school and then go. I took my boys and we filled the gas cans for the generator. Seventeen gallons. I believe in being prepared and will kiss and hug that generator for all it's worth if we do lose power. I'll feed it chocolates and treat it very well - if it will keep the fridge cold and the one teeny a/c running to keep one room tolerable.

We ran into trouble when Nik and I tried to exchange the propane tank. We went to six stations, and every one was out of propane. Riding around the city, seeing the growing, snaking lines at the gas pumps - a flutter of not-quite-panic but definite unease rolled through my belly. We decided to try one more spot, and as we drove past it, my eagle eyed son noticed a propane truck, offloading fresh tanks, and we spun the van around.

We got trapped in a different parking lot, and sat for close to five minutes. It was a dizzyingly, frustratingly annoying time, as cars streamed into that gas station and I could see the extra tanks marching off with proud new owners. The panic in my belly grew - and I'm not an easily panicked person. What if we were unable to get a tank? What would we do?

I can totally see how rioting and chaos ensues - and we had all the power and water and provisions that we could ask for at that time. That creeping panic, though - it snakes in and wraps around and then you are just lost.

Happily, we were able to exchange the tank, got home and then went to help my mom clear her yard.

Friday rolled around and it was crazy weird to see stores I visit boarded up and shut down. Parts of my city were put under mandatory evacuation. The rest of the city could leave if they wanted. Two neighboring cites were also partially mandatory evacuated. My kids still had school (yes, thank YOU!) and while they were spending their day learning, the hubby and I cleared our yard - he did most of it - and I went to the grocery one last time. There was no bread. There was water, thanks to an extra truck that came in, but no canned soup, no canned fruit and no bleach.

I bought limes, avocados, and lemons. Priorities, peoples. I made chimichangas and guacamole for dinner with lemon martinis - I told the entire family to shower and wash their hair, we cleaned the tubs and filled them with water, moved the foodIdon'twanttolose from the extra fridge to the house - and we settled in to ride out the storm of the century.

I'm not quite sure when I'll lose power - if I do - or when I'll get it back, but if you are on twitter, I'll try to update that as I can - I'm @mttsm. I'll also try to update the Mom to the Screaming Masses Facebook page.

See you on the flip side. Stay safe, y'all.


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