August 29, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Before we get started, the vacation was great. I'll get back to that late in the week but trust me, the vacation was fantastic and I'm fundamentally, profoundly disturbed and disappointed that it's Monday morning and I'm heading into work.

But I'm here to talk about Irene. Because Irene's a bitch.

On Wednesday night during our vacation we really started to pay attention to the weather forecasts. Irene was hanging out down by southern Florida and all the usual suspect islands out there and getting huge, glutting itself on all the nice warm tropical water. By Thursday morning we were slightly concerned. By Thursday afternoon we started dealing with the fact that our vacation - scheduled to last through mid-Saturday - might get cut short. After dinner on Thursday night, my father in law and I headed out to fill up our gas tanks...and saw the mandatory evacuation notices go up.

We quickly wrestled with our options which were two-fold: 1) get the hell out of Dodge and beat everyone across the massive Chesapeake Bay Bridge or 2) wake up before everyone else and head for home. After much discussion we decided to high-tail it out of there. We quickly packed our stuff, emptied the house we rented, got the kids in jammies, loaded up the car and left. And we were completely and utterly alone on the road.

There was some vindication in the fact that the roads were clogged the following day. We didn't feel as though we'd overreacted quite so much. But then Irene hit. Or failed to hit.

While I know some people really got hit hard, we got some much-needed rain and a bit of wind. That's it. Irene was kinda like dressing up for a date with Minnie Driver and answering your door to find Minnie Pearl standing there. (And yes, I'm willing to admit that's a fairly obscure analogy but, really, it's been a long week and weekend so I didn't exactly try too hard to find something better.)

I grew up on the Gulf Coast. Now, I don't want to say that East Coast folks don't know what a storm is but Irene wasn't it. She's just a greedy bitch who stole a couple days of vacation from me.

Posted by Chris at August 29, 2011 6:53 AM

I don't think it's even people from the East Coast. Branches came down. Some of them hit trees. Some basements flooded and some power went out around here.

That's called a thunderstorm in my world. Or I've been through at least a dozen hurricanes.

And this all has NOTHING on Texas.

Posted by: alektra at August 29, 2011 7:49 AM

This is why my CA-raised husband prefers earthquakes - they happen without warning so there's no need to wrestle with a decision to evacuate (hurricane) or hunker down in the safe-room (tornado).

I suppose government officials err way on the side of caution for something that could be preventable now. Which is what I'd do for my family, too, even though it would stink.

My dad lives in Galveston and noone thought Ike would be a big deal. Boy were they wrong. That was an example of the forecasters being right about the storm and about evacuating. Can forecasting be better? I have to think that they do the best they can with the information they have, and it's all we've got.

Bottom's better to have evacuated and it later have been unnecessary than the alternative.

Posted by: TeresaLynn at August 29, 2011 8:48 AM

I'm glad it was nothing more than a bad storm in your area. I think it depends where you are, though. Even though it was a tropical storm by the time it hit the northern states, there is some pretty serious flooding going on. My brother can't get to his house and he can't go to work either... both flooded.

Posted by: Erin at August 29, 2011 9:03 AM

People around here ALWAYS overreact about impending severe weather. Unless you're at the shore, or in an especially low-lying area, there's never anything to worry about. I'm mostly pissed this time because people were going apeshit in the market and they were completely out of water. What. The. Hell. That sucks that your vacation got cut short.

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 29, 2011 9:10 AM

I know the big cities didn't get hit as bad as the predictions were, but some areas here in PA (as well as other states) are under massive flooding. Philly and other areas were being hit hard and all CNN could do was report on some lapping of the East River over the sidewalk...

Posted by: Lisa at August 29, 2011 9:36 AM

I know we didn't get hit hard around here (we weren't even without power... we've had it worse from thunderstorms before), but I currently have a friend in critical condition after being crushed by a tree in New England, so I wouldn't say Irene failed to hit. I'm feeling hit pretty hard by it right now. Just because it wasn't Katrina, doesn't mean you overreacted to Irene. Who knows how many lives were saved thanks to all of the advanced preparations this time. If we all start taking these warnings less seriously because the hurricanes aren't as damaging as they could have been, that's when another Katrina can happen. You guys did the right thing to get out of there early, no matter what the eventual outcome.

Posted by: stephanie at August 29, 2011 9:59 AM

Having been through a couple hurricanes (Rita and Ike) and a few close calls, I say it's better to be safe than sorry. Although Irene weakened as it worked it's way north I personally think the state officials along the coast and the weather organizations made the right call. Last I heard, the Irene death toll was up to something like 21. Imagine what it would have been if people had downplayed or ignored the storms potential impact.

Posted by: JC at August 29, 2011 10:08 AM

Totally love your analogy! We did fine too. In fact, I've had frontal passages that were tougher!

Posted by: Maribeth at August 29, 2011 10:19 AM

Glad you were spared by Irene, but think about what you would have gone through should you have stayed on the coast. I believe that the east coast gets worked up because the population on the coast is significantly more than on the gulf coast (I lived in Biloxi, MS for many years, so I have that experience too!) and evacuating millions of people in a hurricanes path takes some work and some time. (Think back to New Orleans, where they didnt evacuate nearly early enough.).... just my thoughts....

Posted by: 3jaysmom at August 29, 2011 10:29 AM

Having had several family members go through several hurricanes in Florida and South Carolina over the past two decades or so, I don't feel like you can overreact to a hurricane. It is better to be over-prepared and have nothing happen than to be unprepared and have the worst happen. Yes, it sucks it ruined vacations and such, but had it not weakened, it could have been ten times worse and then there'd be complaining that 'they' didn't do enough to warn us!

We were lucky - we had several tornado warnings Sat evening that sent us to the basement for the night, but we never lost electricity, we had no damage (other than lots of branches down in the yard and a little water in the basement). Some weren't so lucky. All-in-all, it was a lot better than expected, I think we should rejoice in that and not complain that it wasn't what 'they' forcasted!

Now, let's talk about the local news doing nothing but coverage of this event from Saturday morning until late Sunday night! Really? It was wall-to-wall Irene all weekend. Now, that's your hype right there!!

Posted by: cyndy at August 29, 2011 10:32 AM

That post describes perfectly about how us, Californians were thinking when you guys got your baby earthquake. I'm sorry your vacation was cute short, that's always a major drag.

Posted by: Holly at August 29, 2011 10:49 AM

I've said it on my FB several times - it doesn't take a storm of Katrina or Andrew to severely disrupt things around here, and I'm really sick of people who (a) downplayed this storm, and (b) dismissed Irene as not being significant because they didn't have biblical levels of destruction. Think about how much power you use on a daily basis. Now think about not having that power for up to two weeks. That's what people in the suburbs around Philly are being told. Even going without power for 24 hours can really be tough to those who are not used to being without it.

Posted by: Coleen at August 29, 2011 11:33 AM

Sorry your vacation was cut short, but just be happy!

Posted by: Heather at August 29, 2011 12:42 PM

When I used to live in Malibu, I was at Ben and Jerry's with my then-infant (now 12-year-old) daughter and Minnie Driver came in and said to her companion, "What a CUTE baby!"

So that's my Minnie Driver story. I don't have a Minnie Pearl story.

Posted by: Brooke at August 29, 2011 12:49 PM

Our vacation was cut short as well--we might have been in the same beach town as you guys--we left Thurs night after the DE governor issued the evacuation order. At first, I thought we overreacted, then underreacted, then overreacted. Our power stayed on, our backyard didn't flood, Saturday was like any other rainy Saturday.

But then I see the pics from VT, from Philly, and even from the beach towns in DE and MD (though damage looked relatively minor if damage can ever be called "minor") and am very glad that we didn't wait.

Posted by: Jenn at August 29, 2011 2:50 PM

Yeah was not to bad in Northern Virginia but have you seen how bad parts of the OBX are? Hatteras Island is completely cut off a t the moment with the main road washed out in 3 seperate places and a new passage to the sound created by the storm. Our friends were also evacuated and are glad they did or they would be stuck and even worse have no where to stay. The house they were renting burnt down in the middle of the hurricane and the firefighters could not get near the place because of the flooding etc.

Posted by: Steven at August 29, 2011 6:17 PM