Don’t Wanna Be an Evacuee: The Not-So-Calm Before the Frankenstorm
They haven’t told us we have to evacuate yet, but I know they will. It’s only a matter of time. Brigantine, just a few miles down the the ocean front, has set a mandatory evacuation for Sunday, and I heard they already called for an evacuation of Cape May County. That’s for the entire County! So I know it’s just a matter of time before they declare an evacuation for the town of Margate, where I live.
When they do it will be the second evacuation we’ve had in just over a year, and that’s not counting that weird derecho storm, when we weren’t evacuated, but lost our power for four days in early July.
If this all sounds like the signs of “storm fatigue” to you, I think you’re right. This situation is fatiguing, and concerning, and frustrating, and somewhat maddening.
Here are a few of the things that kept me awake last night: Why did we buy a house that’s a mile from the beach and 3 feet above sea level? If we stack all our stuff up on tables, are we really just doing the packing work for the looters? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so eager to buy in bulk at last week’s frozen food sale. If I take three showers before the storm, will it help me remember the blessed luxury of hot water? If we’re evacuated, which friend will we stay with and will that friendship ever be the same afterward? As you can see, it was a restless night’s sleep.
When Hurricane Irene hit in August of 2011, we got an evacuation notice for first time ever in my life. Being newbies at the process, we overreacted and made lots of rookie mistakes. I meticulously covered every window in the house with duct tape, only to find out they have determined taping windows is a complete waste of time and getting the tape off the windows later is so difficult it makes you feel like breaking them all instead and just starting over.
My wife and I struggled mightily with the process of determining what to take with you when you evacuate. Somethings seem fairly obvious – the kids and the pets should probably be included, but what about your high school yearbook? You mean to tell me we’re leaving behind the $2000 flat-screen TV, but we’re taking a musty copy of The Loyal Beavers Yearbook – Class of 1993? And one of the great miscalculations of my life was questioning to my wife the value of taking our wedding album. This time, the wedding album will be packed before the bottled water and the first-aid kit.
One of the worst parts of any storm situation is losing power. Quite simply, power outages are a pain in the ass! How did our ancestors get along all those years by candlelight? Waiting for the power to be restored is one of the world’s biggest teases! During our four days without power after the derecho, we were one of the last houses in town to get power back. Few things are more frustrating than sitting quietly perspiring in your dark, sweltering house, while listening to the sound of your neighbor’s (who NEVER lost power) central air conditioning system turning on. Now, that is a tease!
After being evacuated twice in a year, I’m hearing more of my neighbors opting for staying in their house and taking their chances. This conversation almost always includes their willingness to sit on the roof of their house if needs be, their plan to hide from the police warning them to flee for their lives, and stocking up on booze a big drunken “end of the world” party. To these folks, it seems that nothing gets you ready for a life and death situation better than drinking a bottle of Absolut and a 12-pack of Miller Lite.
Hiding out in my own home doesn’t seem like the best and safest plan to me and my family so, when they tell us, we will once again become evacuees… reluctantly.