So. It's that time of year again. As of this coming Saturday, June 1 (NOAA forecast here), we will offically begin hurricane season. I was 14 when Hurricane Hugo rolled ashore, and yes, that makes me 38 thankyouverymuch. We were fortunate that our home did not sustain much damage, but other than that, we were right there in the middle of the rest of it. No power, stinky water, endless whine of chain saws. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Riding out a storm is scary as hell—living through the aftermath? Well, that is a whole different experience.
In the summer of 2011, Charleston had a direct threat from Hurricane Irene.
This was the first experience I had as a married woman whose husband is obsessed with weather on a regular basis. What I learned that summer was nothing less than eye-opening. Here is my story:
Disclaimer: This is not a post where I bash men. There will never be a post like that here because I wouldn't want to read a man's blog where woman bashing was the deal. That being said, I will share some slightly wise-ass anecdotes about the observed male response to hurricanes.
Okay, so now that I've got all that out the way, here goes...
Firstly, every man I know becomes an instant expert on all things storm as soon as a tropical depression forms off the coast of Africa. I don't mean armchair expert, I mean EXPERT. They talk millibars, longitude/latitude, chain saws, emergency supplies, how to do appendectomies with no training or anesthesia. Just. In. Case. Analyzing the radar maps becomes an obsession. And don't even get me started on the plywood.
During the Irene threat, my husband proposed that we have a planning meeting. Great! I thought. We're being proactive. We are sooo smart!
No sweat, I thought, my version of this plan was short and simple: full tank of gas, home insurance, and a couple of hundred bucks in cash. See? Easy peasy.
His plan, however, was not so straightforward. There were different contingencies for various categories of storm and what we would do. When I resisted his plan that involved him staying here and me and the kids going to another city, he brought out the big guns.
"There might be looting."
Um. I can assure you guys that the list of what I would fight/shoot someone over is quite short. It goes like this: Kids, family, pets.
Stuff is just stuff, in my mind. And to be honest, our stuff isn't really all that great. I mean, we have some nice things that I'd be sad about losing but I would PAY a looter to take our 729-pound television. No lie. For the most part it's just not worth it and everything that means anything to me would be with me. In my car. Far away from danger. See? SIMPLE, I tell you.
However. Most of the men I talked to about this did not share my laissez faire mentality. There was talk about being sure to be available for chainsawing. For defending against the looters. For putting out fires. For catching wild game and eating it with their bare hands for dinner. Okay, I made that up. But my husband did make mention of being sure to have enough shells for his shotgun. (That sound you just heard was tens of women all rolling their eyes and sighing in unison.)
Next, I was sent to the grocery store to stock up on canned goods, water, toilet paper etc. Never mind that the place I would have evacuated to would have had all these things in great plenitude, but go I did. We now have enough canned beenie weenies, tuna, salmon, beefaroni, and bottled water to last a small army at least a week.
Out of all of the above hilarity, my favorite observation has been saved for last. The PHONE CALLS. To me, to each other (brother, father, friends x a lot), to me again, to each other some more, to their moms, their dads and their kids. My husband's planning was in such detail and so intricate I finally just stopped listening, stopped resisting, stopped arguing and just asked him to tell me where he would like for me to be.
By some point mid-week, it was obvious that Charleston would be spared. I think the men were all secretly disappointed as none of their hard-learned commando/Chuck Norris/sharpshooting/knot tying/emergency surgery skills would be utilized. Nothing to chain saw. No rising water to sandbag against. No last generators to buy from the black market.
I kind of felt sorry for all of them. But mostly I just giggled behind their backs and filled up my tank at Costco.
The point is that I guess I'm a giant weenie who has no intention of riding out a major hurricane OR its aftermath if I can avoid it. I mean, don't wake me up for anything less than a Cat 3, but after that, I'm outta here. I have bathed in the cold turpentine water before, and that shit was gross. So tell me—what are y'alls plans for a hurricane?