Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for Hurricane Isaac

The pretty tubes at Bob's Canoes
Hurricane Isaac, the first hurricane in our new house. How exciting! How are we preparing? Well, today we spent the day with our Pensacola friends floating down the Black Water River in Milton, whiling the day away in the sun. Yes, we live in the projected path of Hurricane Isaac, but it was the farthest thing from my mind as I floated down-river in my hot pink tube with three little boys in tow pretending to shoot bad guys hiding behind the trees along the banks. A bigger fear than the pending hurricane was the snake that meandered across the river just in front of us as we rounded a curve. The hurricane is two days away, plenty of time. The snake was right there in our path. Thankfully it was as afraid of us as we were of it, and it slithered away into a half sunken pile of downed trees.

The ride home from Milton was quiet. We were sun-drenched and worn out after a long day on a lazy river. As we drove home listening to the radio the alerts blurted through the music updating us on the storm's progression. "The Florida panhandle is under hurricane warning," and "Santa Rosa County Schools are cancelled beginning on Tuesday," aired on every radio channel. My cell phone signaled notifications from the kids' coaches and the superintendent of schools with messages granting permission to evacuate and encouraging families to stay safe. I guess there is a hurricane coming.

It wasn't until we entered into our neighborhood that things were noticeably different. People were actively boarding up their windows. Boats, just pulled from the water, were sitting on trailers in driveways instead of bobbing gracefully in the aqua blue waters of Pensacola Bay. My phone rang.

"Hi Jenni, it's Dad," he said. "Is everything OK there?"

I assured him that we have a plan-a plan to prepare the house and to evacuate if necessary-we just hadn't started yet.  He, of all people, would understand. My dad always says that it makes no sense to worry about things and spend lots of time preparing for them if in the end what is going to happen is going to happen anyway. And he is right. We could have stayed home all day today preparing for a storm that might or might not hit us, or enjoyed a day on the river. We chose the latter.

After today's sunny day I am looking forward to some rain, wind, and clouds. I love the anticipation of impending severe weather and the feeling in our house when we are hunkered down, waiting. The kids get along better, they want to help out, they wait for cues from us that dictate how they should react to emergency alerts. We stay calm so they can stay calm.

But now it's time. It's time to fill vehicles and the generator with gas. It's time to clean-up around the pool and move patio furniture, bikes and yard toys into the garage so they don't become projectiles under the control of hurricane strength winds. It's time to make a mental note of where the photo albums are, the savings bonds, and each of the kids' memory boxes in case we have to flee. It's time to remember the feeling of returning to Pensacola after Ivan hit here in 2004 and the devastation it caused that can still be felt. Even today, eight years later, there are vacant lots where houses once stood. Certainly Isaac is nothing in comparison to Ivan-which was projected to make landfall as a category 5 hurricane. But it is a hurricane nonetheless. And due to the uncertainty of its path, strength and timeline, it's time to start taking Hurricane Isaac seriously-well, more seriously anyway.