Come on, Irene

0811_irene_prep1 We were ready. She came, and we survived. We started to get a little nervous when those mandatory evacuation orders were issued late on Thursday, but the flood and surge reports for our city are pretty darn good. Lots of discussion in the front yard with various neighbors on Friday morning, and most folks opted to stay. I told Neel that I'd feel a lot less vulnerable if we boarded up the French doors, and he readily obliged. He scrambled at work on Friday, and Callum and I scrambled around the house. Cleaning, finishing laundry, cooking pizzas and bacon. Food we could eat as leftovers and in sandwiches once the power went out.

Friday was easily one of the hottest, muggiest days of the summer. We helped some neighbors who'd been out of town pull their stuff into the garage, got the doors boarded up, and the car pulled deep into the driveway (the other car we left at Neel's work). Friday night was eerily calm. We watched the Italian Job, and by 11 p.m. the wind was just beginning to dust the treetops. By 11:30 it started to rain. We had squally rain and wind all night, but Saturday almost started out like any other stormy day. We started a Harry Potter, and the weather started going downhill. The lights flickered and went out at 10 a.m., seemingly for good. Already? This thing wasn't supposed to really hit us until late evening. But, as one neighbor put it, "If someone farts on this street, the power goes out." True dat.

By 11 the power was back on, and miraculously it stayed on. The street flooded. This is normal.


The bad weather would come in bands, with lulls in between. This is pretty normal too. After each band, the wind would get stronger and the rain heavier, but we took advantage of the lulls to walk the dogs (ha!), and during one, we took a longer walk ourselves, down the street to the river.

For some perspective, here's a before shot for you:

And here we are on Saturday:
0811_irenephone3 If you look closely at the center of the photo, you can see the ship yard cranes in the background, but the spot where Callum is standing in the first photo is underwater. This actually isn't so bad. It's early in the day. That spot in the first photo will go under water during high tide. The spot where I'm standing to take the picture would be under water in a few hours. We weren't down there then.


0811_irenephone2 that guardrail is now gone, by the way...

The wind was merciless. Whipping the trees all day long. But the power stayed on. We had wraps for lunch (using that bacon!) and watched another Harry Potter. Come dinnertime, I wasn't sure what to do. I wasn't ready to cook dinner with power. We weren't hungry at 5, but when the lights flickered, we quickly made some burgers on the griddle, kept them warm and ate them a few hours later, in front of another Harry Potter.

By bedtime, things were feeling pretty dicey. The rain and wind were both at their worst, and the center of the storm had passed just south of us.  I remembered from Isabel that the worst of the winds came from what my friend Marianne called the "tail whipping us after the storm has passed." The same was true Saturday night. We moved the dogs' crates up to my office, our interior-most room (they usually sleep on a sunporch which is pretty exposed), and Callum slept on a mattress on the floor with them. That room opens into our bedroom so we were all together. And of course, as soon as we were all tucked in the power went out. Callum and I both saw the transformer flash. All night we could see the tree tops whipping (of particular concern was a giant old gumball at the edge of our yard) and hear the wind howling (and the transformers blowing). We could also hear the balcony off our bedroom creaking in the wind as well. We'd been talking about it before, but this storm pretty much decided it: the balcony is coming down, and the doors out to it are becoming windows. Soon.

Callum was up all night. I was up all night. I took migraine meds in the middle of the night. Neel slept pretty well. By morning, it was still windy, but the sun was starting to peek through the clouds.

We took another walk. Back to the river.





0811_irene_debris1 That "rock garden" is made up of rocks tossed from the bottom of the Elizabeth River.

Last winter I took some pictures of the docks along the water nearest our house (we're about three blocks from this spot). Here's the before shot:

And here's the after:

Part of that dock landed here:

Just this morning (we got power back on late last night, 24 hours after it went out) I went back and read that post I'd mentioned on Friday about Hurricane Isabel. It's been inevitable that we compare these storms, I suppose. That was such a different time for us. We barely knew this place, but it was our home. So Isabel was scarier in a lot of ways. Similar in others. We know so much more, and each storm, be it snow or Nor'easter or hurricane, teaches more about living here. I'm still learning. How do you food shop to have food for the storm and a power outage? Do we need a generator, given the fact that we tend to lose power several times a year? And there are things I do know: I lovelovelove my full-size water heater for the hot shower I got yesterday, even though it was in the dark! It will take a pretty large storm to flood my house. I still find hurricanes fascinating, perhaps even more so now that I'm somewhat in the path.

So, it's all good. Power's on for most of us. And for those who are saying that this storm was over-hyped, let's remember that there were people who were killed due to Irene this weekend. And people who lost their homes or who are dealing with serious damage. Just because my clean up was easy and Manhattan didn't get an It Could Happen Tomorrow-type scenario like you see on The Weather Channel doesn't mean that those government officials weren't smart to take this storm seriously. One thing I do know about hurricanes is that the track is easier to forecast than intensity. Better to over-prepare and be inconvenienced than not to prepare and risk your life. I'm just sayin'. It was certainly an adventure, but thankfully not (in my neck of the woods) as bad as it could have been. Time to look ahead. School starts tomorrow.