WASHINGTON--The earthquake on Wednesday took me by surprise. I've had time to get ready for Hurricane Irene.
It's strange, waiting for disaster to strike.
Irene is expected to start to hit the Washington area near 6 p.m. est. It's already started to rain. The brunt of Irene will hit further east. Still, the wind gusts could reach 50 mph and we've been warned there may likely be power outages. Pepco, the local power company, robo called me yesterday to lower expectations: Don't expect us to fix anything soon, the message said.
I've been preparing.
Four flashlights. Two radios.
I bought a nifty wind up radio which needs no batteries and has a solar power option, which I will test on another day. I just cranked it up; I'm not sure if my cell phone will charge off of it. It seems prudent to own one of these; I bought the last one on Thursday at my local Best Buy. My nearby Radio Shack had sold out the wind-ups by the time I arrived.
Moved the car out of the path, hopefully, of big trees on my block that may fall. Stocked up on food and water. I have been glued to the Washington TV stations broadcasting hurricane news non-stop and the Washington Post web site. Emergencies are times for local media to shine and remind people why we are needed. I applaud my colleagues at the local news outlets. The city and my council member (what would be an alderman in Chicago) are effectively using the neighborhood listserve to communicate--so far.
My neighborhood in northwest Washington sits on the highest ground in the city and my house is on a ridge, so it stands higher than the street. Lower areas near the Potomac River--suburban Alexandria, Va., for example--will be harder hit.
This morning, Roger, my handyman came over to inspect my gutters and make sure the earthquake did not shake them loose. He also cleared a clogged downspout. On Friday, I started to deconstruct the yard: I took the top off of the patio table, put it face down in a corner of the lawn and plopped a 50 pound bag of mulch on it. I stowed the chairs on their side in another corner so the wind can't lift them off. I secured, I hope other stuff. This morning I brought my front porch rocking chairs and other lawn furniture in the house.
I've frozen half dozen bottles of water in the freezer, so if the power goes, I can keep some things chilled for awhile. I've filled every pot in the house with filtered water. If my bathtub only held water, I would have filled it up-- in case water mains breaks, I'd have water to flush the toilets.
Food-wise, I think I'm fine for a few days, even if the power goes. I have cooked chicken, salad and sandwich stuff I can easily keep chilled. I bought some canned fruit. And I figure I will barbeque defrosted meat on my outdoor grill in everything defrosts.
After I finish this, I will gather my "go" bag. In this case, it will include my laptop, powercords and chargers. I put my passport, ID's and extra money in my purse. My cell phone and blackberry are charged and so is this laptop. I have gadgets to power and recharge these devices off my car battery if necessary. If my Comcast cable and internet goes out, my alternative for getting on the Internet will be by Sprint broadband card.
A few hours ago I showered and dried my hair because it seemed better to start off a potential disaster cleaned-up. I'll cook whatever I may want for dinner in an hour or so, in case the power goes out right away. Of course, the power and cable may stay on.
The worse part of the storm will hit in the late evening.
I cannot imagine I will sleep tonight.
I thought my home was collapsing during the earthquake. Read my report here.