We were all excited about our second trip to the Outer Banks. As we entered Cape Hatteras the sun was shining, but not as brightly as I had remembered from our previous trip in 2009. It was a portent of things to come. As the week started we began to hear rumblings of a storm in the Caribbean. Just something to keep our eyes on, according to the Weather Channel. But with each day that passed, the storm intensified until it became something nameable. Irene. It seemed impossible that the storm would head toward the East coast, at least to me. But head for the East coast it did and on August 23rd, 2011, as we were riding the ferry to Ocracoke Island, I received a phone call from my Dad. “I just heard they issued a mandatory evacuation of the Outer Banks.” “Ha ha,” I replied. But he wasn’t kidding.
Lunch was a little unsettling that day. All eyes were glued on the news, and I was feeling a little lightheaded. I thought it was a little delayed reaction to the ferry ride when I felt the deck where we were sitting move. Nope. It was an earthquake. It was too much for me to handle. First a hurricane, then an earthquake. I wanted to go home… but I was scared of that, too. We returned to Avon a little earlier than we’d planned, not wanting to stick around to get caught in a crush of people wanting to ferry out a bit early. Ocracoke’s mandatory evacuation was to take place one day earlier than the rest of the Outer Banks.
We spent our last day on Hatteras trying to forget what was coming. And so were all the locals, it seemed. Even our usual kayak rental place had written a request to please refrain from talking about the hurricane. It was ruining everyone’s summer.
We left the morning of August 25. My husband and I woke up at 5AM to pack the car, and we were all out the door by 6:15AM. The roads were lonely still out on Hatteras, with one care heading South for every 10 heading North.
Traffic became a little heavier by the time we got to Nags Head. Road workers and emergency crews were out in force by 7:00AM to direct traffic off the island. All the stop lights were set to flashing yellow and police officers waved cars through to avoid congestion on the bridge out. I was both relieved and sad to leave. I was sad for a lost, very much anticipated, vacation. And I was sad for what might happen to the people who remained. We met many locals who said they would stay and even had their own hurricane rituals. They knew how to board up, they knew where to meet up, and it seemed that as much alcohol was being sold as water.
Not wanting to completely disrupt our vacation, we stopped for an overnight in Washington D.C. The capital was eerily quiet, though life went on. The oddest and most beautiful thing about it was the sky that evening of August 25. It was a strange, purple hue – beautiful and daunting.
We were home on the 26th. We bought water and toilet paper along the road home, stocking up just in case. We charged our cell phones and laptops, and I took my daughters downstairs, away from the roof, to sleep. It was a loud evening, but gratefully the storm was not as strong as had been expected and feared. But even with the diminished power, the damage was tremendous. In our neighborhood just north of New York City we lost a few trees, and our sewer just damaged.
But the damage in the Bronx where my parents lived was incredible. The Bronx! In a million years I would have never expected it to take the hit it did. New York City? Affected by weather? That kind of thing happens in Long Island, or Westchester, or Rockland. But not the city!
Not so. Century old trees were uprooted everywhere. It was impossible to drive down the streets. And those that didn’t fall during the storm did the eeriest thing. They fell AFTER the storm, taking with them power lines and light posts.
Hurricane Irene taught us an important lesson. It is important to be prepared for an emergency. The next week my husband and I went out and purchased a backup generator for our property and hired an arborist to inspect the trees on our property. We prepared an area in our home where we keep emergency supplies for good measure, purchased a hand crank radio and charging station, and we take routine good hard looks at our home and property to make sure it can withstand the worst. Since the turn of the millennium, two events have shaped my outlook on the importance of emergency preparedness. I don’t need to name them. You know what they are.
Are you prepared?
The 2012 hurricane season is beginning. It seems crazy to think about it now, in June. And yet it is important to be prepared. One resource you can use to prepare is New York Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) guide, Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City. It was eye opening for me as a New Yorker to see how much damage a tropical storm or hurricane was able to do to the City. It was just as incredible to see it happen. The guide includes general tips on how to prepare for an emergency, instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home, and a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.
If you are the “ready for action” type, or even if you aren’t, here’s a great opportunity for you to start preparing. Enter to win your very own “Ready New York Go Bag“. The Go Bag includes the bag itself, a pocket radio, flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, worker’s gloves, light sticks, an emergency blanket, and more! All you need to do is:
- Check out the Ready New York Hurricane guide and leave a comment telling me something you learned in the comments field below. Then email me at Maria@mommylogue.com with your comment. All comments must be left by June 22, 2011 at 11:59PM EST to be eligible for inclusion. The giveaway is open to US Residents only. A winner will be chosen at random using Random.org (http://www.random.org/), and will be announced at the end of this post.
- For an additional chance to win, tweet “Hurricane season 2012 is underway. How prepared are you? http://www.mommylogue.com/2012/06/an-irene-awakening/ #ReadyNewYork #giveaway“. Then send me the URL of your tweet (click the tweet’s timestamp to get it) to Maria@mommylogue.com.
The “Ready New York Go Bag” prize and its contents are provided by the Ad Council and the New York Office of Emergency Management. This post is part of a campaign with the Ad Council and the New York Office of Emergency Management. I received a Go Bag in exchange for writing this post. However, all the opinions, photos and experiences expressed are my own. The Ad Council and OEM adhere to the FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials.