...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Second Guessing and Planning Ahead
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I’m going to assume that like me, many or most folks do wonder “what would I do?” if you a) lived in a hurricane zone b) lived near a river that flooded c) lived in a state that had forest fires that sometimes came near you. In fact, well, just about everyone has something, don’t we? I mean, we see few stories out of Britain about funnel clouds or earthquakes, but I know folks over there who’ve dealt with floods and those of us in North America? There’s no “safe” place. I grew up in New England and remember seeing some constructions near a river that were “left over from when Hurricane Diane hit” which happened in 1955; a hurricane that while yeah, it primarily affected the Carolinas and such, affected New England. One report over on, where I went to get info on WHEN exactly that hurricane was (I was born in ’53), says that it “unleashed some of the heaviest rains ever recorded in New England and that several towns, including Waterbury, Connecticut, looked as if they’d been part of a war. It affected Connecticut’s shade tobacco crop (I don’t know if you can stll see it but it used to be visible on take-off from Bradley field (‘scuze me, Bradley International) in exciting Windsor Locks, – the coverings over the tobacco growing in Windsor. For those wondering, it’s used for cigar wrappers.

So I grew up with hurricanes – FAR more exciting as a kid than an adult. The main thing I remember is the occasional power failure, which again, as a kid meant big thrills like well, not going to school, or eating by candlelight. The grown-ups had to deal with the hassles.

I spent the first 22 years or so in the Northeast and it was ice and snow, humidity and mosquitoes. Hurricanes yeah, and power failures, but never anything that lasted super long. Moving to the bay area meant adjusting from those forms of wild weather and geography to earthquakes. No hurricanes, no snowstorms (rarely snow of any sort), but quakes. I hate ‘em. Don’t get me wrong, I understand everything about them, but I hate them. The first time I really felt one I wanted to pass out until it was over. Icky. My brain says “earthquake”, my gut says “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! STOPPPPPP!” and there’s not talking to your gut.

We all get something, is what I’m saying. I’ve never lived in the middle of the country, so I haven’t experienced the sorts of storms they get and as I say, no tornadoes. We’ve had them here, but not close to where I live. There’s almost annual flooding in the “ish” rivers – Western Washington has lots of rivers that start with an “S” and end with an “ish” – there’s the Skykomish, the Snohomish, Stillaguamish okay yeah and the Green. But I live in the city, up the hill.

And yeah, there’s Mt St H, which is still very busy since it began burping and churning last year (images of helicopters pouring in large glasses of Alka-Seltzer and tossing in really big antacid tablets). And typhoons. So far, so good.

And we have earthquakes, most of which are teeny and tiny and puny. Our Alaska friends sneer at us for even mentioning most of them. Stu and I refer to the usual reporting as “oh no! Some shampoo fell off the shelves” after one memorable television report some years ago when we had a minor quake and they spent an HOUR reporting that NOTHING had happened. “Now, let’s take some of your calls….Chehalis? Did you feel the earthquake? No?” Okay now a call from Puyallup. Sir, did you feel anything? No, huh?”

We get fires in eastern Washington that look awful and scary but they’re not here. So all in all, It’s pretty safe.

Watching the recent events, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to us if we were there. We know folks in New Orleans, we know folks in other parts of Louisiana. I know people with family in Southern Alabama and we know people in coastal-ish Texas. We know OF lots more folks; between science fiction and mystery, with Stu’s connections in Holmes societies and Wodehouse Societies and our widespread “families”, we know people. We haven’t been back to New Orleans since our trip in 1995, but the folks we met there are still very much in our hearts and minds. And the folks we’ve never truly met face to face, but ARE our friends on the net, we worry. The internet has made it both easier to keep track of people, and harder because now you know so many people and you get to worry about them.

Bill and Judy Crider – I’ve been tracking Bill’s blog for days since I heard where Rita was headed. I always remember Bill describing where they lived – Alvin Texas as the “mold and spore capital of the universe”. Yeah, it’s way down there. I don’t read Bill’s blog regularly – I just can’t keep up with everyone’s or I’d NEVER get up from here – as it is, I’m glued here for hours every day, but I started checking and like everyone, started second guessing their decision to stay. What the HELL did I know? Do you have a clue what you’d do if you heard a hurricane was coming? I know I’d like to think I’d have it all together. But reality isn’t so neat. And they stayed and they were SO SMART to do so. And they’re fine.

Other friends from New Orleans – they left in time, but I haven’t heard recently and don’t know if they headed back yet or where they are.

Between my living in the bay area and living through a couple of droughts there and being whacked over the head with earthquake preparedness stuff (every year they tape a line from south to north on the campus to show the fault line. Mmmmmm, how reassuring), I know about planning. I worked in an office structure that was sort of half-ass STUCK between floors in an old building on campus; my boss was disabled as was I. As were our clients so getting out of this weird little box, which might have been safe or might have gotten squished (we were in wheeler hall) ONLY to get out and be bonked by a falling cornice stone, well I got trained. And Stu, some years back, at the insurance company came home with some smart emergency planning stuff that he was involved with. So we started the Kit. And haven’t done MUCH about it in years. But we did get the incredibly cool everyone-should-have-one wind-up flashlight/radio.

And this month I said “hey, we should like do more. Like get more water and talk about where we’d meet.” I cannot imagine what emergency would mean this sort of seriousness, but hell, right after we moved here, there was a major snow storm (really major, like east coast major, not like weeny “ooh, a snow flake” Seattle freak-out). Stu never did get home that night, but had the smarts to head for the houses of some friends in a neighborhood he COULD reach. I got home and the phones were working so I knew where he was but….

I come from a family that doesn’t panic. My mom years ago said “when you get there, don’t call” because she figured mostly she’d hear if it were bad news. That’s changed a bit but mostly, I’m good in crises and need to DO stuff to stay calm and in control. But jesus – think of it. I can’t walk and I need the scooter. We don’t have a car. We don't have cell phones. We take lots and lots of pills. And I wonder how well we’d pack and how well we’d function if we had to evacuate – and to WHERE? I mean SHEESH.

So it’s time to stock up and calmly, very calmly, so I don’t look like a neurotic, or hysteric or feel like I’m overreacting, read up on what we need – real stuff not duct tape and plastic tarps, but to look at how MUCH water and canned food we need. And then, like the newspaper columnist the other day, I’m going to have to invest in some of Wolfgang Puck’s “self-heating” cans of coffee. Okay, self-heating lattes. Okay, so my excuse is I probably would need the caffeine to fend off migraines and withdrawal. Oh, HOW SCI-FI because oh gods, ya gotta have something to keep you going. In FOUR flavors yet!

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