During Hurricane Matthew, I didn’t spend hours glued to my television set or checking my phone for weather updates. When a hurricane gets too close, I don’t default to Defcon 1 mode, but instead exercise what I consider to be a reasonable abundance of preparedness.
Truthfully, most of the actual work of preparing for a storm falls on my better half, especially this time of year. Even without wild weather he has to: clean, drain, and otherwise “close” the pool (the details of which I am happy to not understand), take down the trampoline, break down the gazebo, take in the patio furniture, secure the tent shed, make sure all the bikes and sports equipment is locked away, and so on.
I put away the Halloween decorations and the solar lights that are around the yard, but other than that, my duties are mostly of the preparation variety, rather than loss prevention or damage control.
When it comes to “the inside stuff,” I’ve got it covered. I make the appointments to have the winter tires put on the cars. I dig out the candles and flashlights and batteries in advance of the bad weather. I make sure we have lots of water and no-electricity-required food. I make sure all devices are charged and the bathtub is filled with water and that my potted plants are placed somewhere sheltered.
Isn’t this the routine of all who are accustomed to Maritime storms? I’m pretty sure it is. Based on how much of a zoo the grocery stores turn into in the 24 hours leading up to a big storm, it’s clear to me that people are preparing to be storm-stayed for months, if their toilet paper acquisition is any indication.
When Hurricane Juan hit in 2003, I didn’t sustain any damage on my property or really experience any inconvenience beyond a regular storm. Even when White Juan hit a few months later, I was living on the water in a house I was renting in St. Peter’s. Not only did we not get very much snow (by “major, catastrophic snowstorm” standards), but my tenancy included plowing, so I didn’t even have to dig myself out.
Some of my friends weren’t as lucky, though. Some of them, who were living in Halifax at the time, were stranded in cold apartments with no power, no food, and no way to get out of the city – some with no way to even get out of their driveway or door. Even the toughest of Cape Breton stock, despite surviving physically unscathed, were shaken, and had developed a new fear of Mother Nature. They haven’t forgotten that day and it’s safe to say they never will.
In 2005, when Katrina hit, it decimated a large portion of the southern United States. I remember watching CNN in the days leading up to the storm, having seen the projections and trajectory, and wondering if people were making the preparations necessary to get them through a few days of no power.
If only they knew then what they would learn the hard way over the following days, weeks, and months.
When I see videos and photo galleries of people checking out the waves as tropical storm winds lash a beach, I want to shake sense into them. I cringe at the TV when they glibly smile at cameras, proud of their foolishness. Reckless. Dare I say, stupid. One of the many times I question people’s prudence.
As I write this, Hurricane Nicole is dominating the television as it churns North up the Atlantic in an as-yet-undetermined path, growing stronger all the time. With any luck it will lose strength and fizzle out by the time you read this. But even if it does, there will be other Matthews and other Nicole’s. Every year is a busy hurricane season, it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before another bad one spins our way.
So even though I’ve been fortunate to live in a place that has basically escaped the wrath of Mother Nature, I will always prepare. Do we regularly get brutal, destructive storms? No. But one need only look at a photo gallery of pictures taken in Sydney after Hurricane Matthew to appreciate how merciless the weather can be, and how a person’s entire life can be uprooted and left to float down King’s Road.
Or maybe I’m just paranoid and over-organized, I can’t tell which.