It’s the hurricane season and even though NOAA has said that the presence of El Nina means that we’ll have fewer storms this season, NODS (National Office of Disaster Services) tells us that we still need to have a hurricane plan in place. This plan should include a checklist of the things we need to have and do before, during and after a hurricane or major storm.
The unpredictable nature of storms in general and of Gonzalo last year in particular, which I wrote about here, means that none of us living on the island takes the news of impending bad weather lightly anymore. Since a lot of us lived through a Category 4 and lived to tell about it (after fixing our house roofs), I think that most of us have a pretty good idea about when we need to be mildly concerned and when we need to panic.
It’s just that we don’t all have the same idea at the same time.
Take last weekend for example. Danny was one of those storms who couldn’t make up his mind. First he was a tropical storm who became a Category 1 hurricane. Since he was a few days away from us at the time, we were feeling only mild concern. We turned away for a minute and next thing we knew he was a Category 3 – not something that most of us wanted to hear when he was still relatively far from us. The only thing that kept us from going into panic mode was the fact that he was relatively small in size.
We then decided to look at the bright side. We didn’t mind if he came on through as long as he brought some much needed rain. We needed the rain. Not the winds, mind you – just the rain. But seeing as how Danny was a man, I wasn’t sure whether he could do one thing and not the other. He quickly threw on the brakes, became a Category 2 storm and then waffled his way back down to a tropical storm. Before all of this however, we had made preparations for him, but like an “un-mannersable” guest, he neglected to tell us that he wasn’t coming again.
Getting ready for a hurricane is like preparing for an exam. Only you know how much you personally need to do to be ready. Only you know how much canned food you’ll really need to get. Despite that, I couldn’t help but feel a tad concerned when having waited until morning to see whether we would bring out the shutters for the doors, we discovered that our neighbour had already battened down the night before.
A hurricane warning doesn’t only mean that tropical storm conditions will be felt in the area within 24 to 36 hours – it also means that you’ll hear the sound of hammers pounding plywood several streets over. This will elicit one of two reactions. Either you second guess yourself – having thought that boarding up your windows would be overkill or you’ll be happy that you already beat them to it.
I remember a few years ago in our former neighbourhood, when we saw a neighbour a few houses over pounding hell out of his roof. The storm that was forecasted to come wasn’t one that my husband and I were particularly worried about, but we looked at each other, thinking that if this elderly gentleman was on top of his roof, (a few hours before the storm was to hit, no less), well maybe we were missing something. But then we realized that he was probably more intimately acquainted with the state of his roof than we were.
Happily Danny gave us enough of a “warning” that he really couldn’t be taken seriously, and this was borne out by the fact that there weren’t any long lines at the gas stations or tons of people at the supermarkets buying food as if the apocalypse was soon to be upon us. He never brought the much needed rain, but at least he got us in the mood for any storms coming up behind him.
Of course, some people weren’t happy about Danny’s no-show because it meant that we didn’t get the island-wide rain we hoped for – but it also meant that we didn’t get the winds that inevitably cause the power to go out. Given my experience of the last hurricane season, I’m willing to forgive ol’ Danny-boy for not bothering to show up.