WASHINGTON, October 28, 2012 — The storm of the century. The worst storm ever, ever, ever to hit the East Coast. A monster mash of gigantic proportions. It is Frankenstorm, zeroing in on the East Coast of the United States and there is nothing we can do. Yikes. Double yikes. How can we protect ourselves? Not so much from Frankenstorm, but the media onslaught of our senses.
If you aren’t scared now, says everyone on TV from Fox News to the Weather Channel to NBC, you should be. You are about to experience a storm to tell your grandchildren about, assuming you live through it. Talk about a media storm. They love this story. It’s something to talk about other than Obama and Romney and Romney and Obama.
If nothing else, the media coverage will cause an uptick in the economy as people converge on stores they haven’t been in for months. They are dashing to Lowe’s for generators and Rite Aid to renew their Xanax. And if you can’t get generator, a good probability, much less batteries or even another quart of milk or bottled water, for Pete’s sake, even Xanax can’t relieve the panic attack.
What’s a person to do?
Step One: Did you act rationally? And decide not to ride the storm out if you live along the beach? When the authorities said evacuate by 5 p.m. Sunday, did you? Or are you one of those macho types, who will still be defying the storm when it sweeps through the front door and carries you out to sea?
Step Two: When you first heard about the storm, did you get your water, your milk, more eggs, extra pet food, your batteries, a generator to keep your sump pump running, and batteries to keep your radio working? Supposedly you paid attention and did all the right things, so now you watch and wonder just what is headed your way.
Did you batten down the hatches? Everything that moves easily is now off the porch and patio. Things are actually tidy for a change? It’s too late to cut down those pesky trees that just might land on your house or car. So move your car somewhere a bit safer. You can’t move the house, so keep an ear out for weird noises like the roots coming loose. Or go surprise your second cousin who has no trees and probably not even a lawn. I am sure she would love to see you after all these years.
Step Four: Start thinking about the dark. Power outages are expected once again. When are we going bury all of our power lines in the ground? However, that’s another tale for another day. Before it gets too dark, gather your flashlights into one place. Gather batteries right next to them. Then gather a bunch of candles next to them. (They’re a good back up and give a cozy ambience, but be careful.) Next a box of matches or a lighter. Remember, if you don’t smoke, you probably don’t have matches or lighters just lying around. So go find them.
Step Five: Don’t forget your toilet. Unless you want to become the next site for the sewer plant, you need to plan on how to flush the toilet. With the power off, you might not be able to, depending if you have a well or if the city/town can still pump water. All you have to do is have a bathtub full of water. Grab a bucket and slush up a bunch of water. Pour it into the toilet’s tank till the float moves up to the water line. Then flush. Presto. Just like before when you had power. But you will need a bathtub or two of water — depending on how many days and the size of your family.
Step Six: Don’t drink. It seems like the perfect thing to do. Candlelight, fireplace to keep the fall chill away since the furnace or heat pump is unable to, and the pitter-patter of Frankenstorm on your roof. But you do want to be clear-headed in case the monster storm takes it upon itself to break through a wall with a tree or hang around for days on end. You will need to think clearly.
So skip the beer and keep the scotch tucked away in the cupboard. That also means no Ambien to get you through the night. Remember, you might, just might, have to get in your car and drive some place else.
Step Seven: Think positive thoughts. Maybe reflect on how you are living just like your great-great grandmother or granddad lived. You are reaching across time to another century. It’s “Little House on the Prairie.” Or think of it as camping out. Or maybe it is man/woman against the elements, sort of your own “Call of the Wild.” Your version of “Survival, U.S.A.” An adventure of your very own.
Step Eight: Whatever you do, don’t whine. No one likes a whiner. So no calling your college roommate to moan about how bad you have it. The rest of America is watching Frankenstorm as “Cool, a monster storm.” Everyone wants one disaster in his or her life, sort of a badge of courage. “I Survived Hurricane Sandy.” Or “Tornado Teddy.” Or “I Survived Another California Earthquake.” But remember your brother in Seattle doesn’t want to hear a litany of war stories afterwards. He’s interested but only wants an abridged version, not a blow-by-blow rendition. Remember he’s just glad you are alive to tell the tale.
Catherine Poe is hunkered down in her home, candles and a bathtub of water at the ready. “Bring it on, Frankenstorm,” is her motto.
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