Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The definitive account of Hurricane Irene (your experiences may vary)

Wow, I've been really bad about writing recently. My bad everyone.
After what seemed like endless buildup, Hurricane Irene finally arrived Friday night, battering the coast of North Carolina before working its way up the East Coast, fizzing out like a Coke left open too long before reaching The Most Important Area In The World where apparently water levels were a foot above normal (oh noes, everybody panic.) Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook got a running account of the storm from me. Those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, your life is worse off for that fact.

In an effort to give the definitive account of Hurricane Irene (your experiences may vary), I’m posting this blog entry to try to convey to you the joy, the fear, the laughter, the loitering (that joke will make sense later) and the full gamut of emotions experienced by myself, The Wife, Co-workers of The Wife (COTW) and Friends of Co-workers of The Wife (FCOTW).

Sparing you the intricate details (because, as I said, this is the definitive account, and those types of accounts always spare you intricate details), The Wife and I were unsure if we were evacuating until around 2  p.m. on Friday. Had the Official Kid of this blog been with us, we’d have skipped town, but he was visiting my parents on a pre-arranged trip. (If you’re a conspiracy theorist, this is where you credit my soon-to-be three-year-old with having either supernatural foresight to get out of town, or supernatural powers to control the weather.) As it was, due to work issues, we decided to live out The Doors “Riders on the Storm” and, ummm, ride out the storm.

Since we were staying, I drove out to the beach to get some pre-storm photos. This was not the brightest thing I’ve ever done, mostly because I did so wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Normally, this is entirely appropriate beach wear. But not when the wind is gusting up to 30 mph and it’s raining. This will not come as a surprise to you, but rain hurts, especially when being blown into you. Nevertheless, I took a few photos, smiled at the other people who were out doing the same thing (presumably vacationers who had their trip ruined) and then headed back to my apartment to prepare.

After getting the essentials in the event of a power outage (flashlights, beer and snacks) we picked up one of the COTW and headed on to the home of the other two COTW where we were going to hunker down. Four of us had been through a hurricane before (with me being the least experienced due to most of the major storms of my youth not giving me a direct hit.) The fifth member of the group was from Oregon and, as best I can tell, thought hurricanes were something that flaunted NCAA rules.  This resulted in great fun for us as she … freaked out is too strong a phrase, so let’s say she was on edge for a good portion of the evening.

Kure Beach Pier around noon.
Power at my apartment went out around 8 p.m. Friday night, but being at a friend’s house, I wasn’t too concerned.  Soon FCOTW came over with their small child, meaning there were a couple of episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine in store for us while the rain and wind picked up outside. It was around this time that our hurricane newbie asked when the hurricane was going to arrive. The hurricane that was bring the rain and wind outside. That hurricane. She wanted to know when it was going to arrive. She also had an interesting way of pronouncing the world "looting" so that is sounded a lot like "loitering." So we told her the chainsaws that people were getting chainsaws to protect against loiterers.

After the young one went to sleep, we turned back to the weather, which was showing the same radar showing the same rain bands coming ashore. Eventually we discovered that the Lingerie Football League had a game on MTV2 that we flipped over to. I can assure you, after diligent research, the idea of Lingerie Football is far better than the implementation of it.

Sometime during the evening, our Hurricane Newbie started asking about this Gayle Force character and what her winds were all about. I think she was joking. Maybe. Who’s to say, really? Any time a gust of wind could be heard outside, someone would say Gayle Force is back. We ran that joke into the ground, threw it under the bus, ran it over, backed over it and ran it over again before getting out of the bus and shooting it. But, at some point during the carnage, the Hurricane Newbie found a Gayle Force on Facebook and sent a friend request. As of this posting, Ms. Force has not replied to the friend request, much to everyone’s disappointment.

It was also during this time that I found my favorite tweet of the night, courtesy of Seth Fried (I don’t know who he is, but you can follow him at @seth_fried on twitter should you so choose). He tweeted, “If your apartment is hit by a dolphin, DO NOT GO OUT TO SEE IF THE DOLPHIN IS OKAY. That's how the hurricane tricks you into coming outside.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Sometime around midnight, we all decided that going to bed was the best option and we awoke to find some limbs down, lots of leaves and pine straw strewn about as though the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail had attacked a tree farm. Still drunk with power (electricity), we checked on the storm, made breakfast and then headed back to our apartment.  We took some pictures around the complex (the parking lot was flooded, but it does that on a hard rain anyway. A tree or two were knocked over, but none hit any of the buildings. A rather large pine tree across the street fell, but again, it didn’t hit anything of importance.

The flooding is normal, the downed tree is not.
We then set out to drive around town and peruse the effects of the storm. Much like our complex, there were a lot of trees down, lots of leaves and limbs down but there didn’t seem to be anything severe, at least in the places we looked. Around this time, The Wife got a call from work, saying the curfew on campus was lifted and she would be needed to help get things ready for the fitness center to open. So she went to work and I sat outside my powerless apartment with 200 pages of a good book left to go. This was around 3ish. Four hours later, I made a sandwich. Two hours (and with the help of a flashlight) I finally finished the book and my Sports Illustrated, leaving me watching X-Files with no lights on, only without the X-Files part and without the Barenaked Ladies.  Around 10ish, The Wife gets home, exhausted from work, and we go to sleep.

The next day (still powerless, both in terms of electricity and in ability to render myself invisible), I set out for South Carolina to pick up the little guy, who no doubt will have no memory of the hurricane he didn’t ride out. I got home around 4 p.m. to a porch light on, leading to much rejoicing, especially among Sir Robin’s minstrels, which did not have to be eaten.

So that’s it, the hurricane is over. The Weather Channel’s ratings have plummeted back to slightly above that of a test pattern, life for the southeastern North Carolina coast is back to normal. But the next hurricane fun is just a tropical wave off the African coast away.

Random Note: My brother lives in Maryland and lost power sometime Saturday as a result of the storm. By Sunday he'd contacted his Federal legislators seeking the resolution to the issue. (He says it's because their power has gone out four times in four months, but picked the time it went out due to a hurricane to contact federal officials.) I'm not sure what he expected two Maryland senators and a representative to do. I assume he thought they were trained in electrical engineering or something else related to how power companies work and, as public servants, would come out to his home, diagnose the problem and repair it. The rest of us just said "Hey, power goes out in a hurricane. It happens," and didn't make a federal case out of it. As my brother in Georgia pointed out, the government can't fix anything, what makes him think they could fix his power.

No comments: