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August 27, 2011


take good care during Irene, okay?

by Andrea O'Connell

Irene is no joke for people located along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale. Hurricane Measurements

Although a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale may seem to the uninformed as not a great threat, nothing could be further from the truth.  Winds from a Category 1 storm can be deadly. A category 1 hurricane has winds from 74 to 95 MPH – that’s dangerous weather no matter how you look at it.  It is capable of producing intense winds, flash-floods, rain, and also tornadoes.

Because Irene is a very expansive storm – 250 miles wide the last I heard, it is capable of seriously damaging a much larger area.

Hurricane Andrew, which decimated parts of Miami (completely crushed entire neighborhoods), was a Category 5 and HUGE like Irene.  And, hurricane Katrina, in 2008, was a Category 3 on the Saffir Simpson Scale.  The damage from Katrina – which is now such a sad memory – is unfortunately, legendary.  The rebuilding from Katrina is STILL taking place in 2011.

Irene has already made landfall in North Carolina.  I am concerned for my friends in New York City, the Carolina’s and throughout the New England area.

This is the Weather Channel’s latest message about the future of Irene:

  • The threat level is “EXTREME” along the East Coast from eastern North Carolina to New England.
  • Irene is a hurricane that poses an extraordinary threat and is one that no one has yet experienced in North Carolina to the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast and New England. This includes Norfolk, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, and Boston. This hurricane has the potential to produce flooding rains, high winds, downed trees (on houses, cars, power lines) and widespread power outages. Significant impacts along the immediate coast include high waves, surge and beach erosion.

I have been through my share of hurricanes having lived in South Florida most of my life.  But, people in New York City, have little experience with hurricanes, like my friend Kathy who lives in NYC.  She’s nervous but getting prepared.

It’s sometimes difficult to know what you’ll need to be prepared with after the storm; it’s an unknown as to what Irene will leave in its aftermath.  However, there are a few essential first steps to do to prepare for the storm.

I advised Kathy to freeze as much water as possible; I save plastic containers for just this purpose.

Fill the bathtub with water in the event of shut down or damage to city water supplies.  Plus, you may need that water to flush the toilet, bathe, or even to drink in the event your stash of drinking water runs dry.

Try to have fans that run on batteries, since the electricity is the first thing to fail.  Have plenty of batteries and flashlights on hand – you will need them! Be careful of candles – they are a terrible fire hazard, and are often a tragic after-effect of a storm.  Always, after the storm hits, we hear about people who made it though the storm, only to have their home burn down when a candle is left idly by to burn.

Have plenty of food that you don’t need to refrigerate; and try to cook as much food as you can before the storm hits.

When the electricity goes out (not “if” – “when” it goes out), the large containers of ice you froze will keep your food cold for a while.  Try not to open the freezer too often, open it only when you need something, then close it right up.  This will allow the ice to last longer.

One of the biggest threats during a hurricane is flying debris.  Be sure to bring inside anything small or light because even a small planter could be deadly if picked up by the wind.

Bring in your patio furniture, potted plants, etc.  Street signs and items left outside will turn into flying daggers when the wind picks them up.

If you do not have shutters on the windows, flying objects could break through the windows and do some harm.  It is best to stay away from windows at all times.

Gather all your important paperwork.  Keep a First Aid kit handy.  I have a back-pack that is ready for any emergency occasion.  I have a good First Aid kit, tooth brush, toilet paper, baggies, socks, and all kinds of other things to sustain me in the event of a disaster.  I always prepare food for my animals, and I put my cat in his carrier to protect him during the storm. The animals will need plenty of food and water.

And lastly, a warning for people, who hunker down in their homes, believing they’re safe, and decide to have a hurricane party, and either drink too much, or get drunk!  That is exactly the wrong thing to do!   You’ll need your wits about you during the storm!  Stay sober until after the storm when you are certain the danger is over.  Party after.

I have been through a few hurricanes in South Florida.  However, it wasn’t until Hurricane Andrew, when I heard the emergency radio warnings blaring, “This is an ACTUAL  emergency,” that I fully realized the clear and present danger of a hurricane.

Before Andrew hit, I didn’t really get too upset or nervous – I always prepared, but I never worried too much.  Hurricane Andrew hit, and left lessons in its aftermath: Take hurricanes seriously!

This is a serious storm.  Please be careful, okay?

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 27 2011

    Great tips even for those of us who don’t experience hurricanes but tornadoes. Another tip I heard today was to turn your fridge temp to its coldest, that way the food stays cold all the longer when the power goes out. And make sure your cell phone is charged! No cell phone? Pick up a disposable one for $20. You can activate them onlinein minutes.

    • Aug 28 2011

      Absolutely, Sherry! We do turn our fridge and our freezer to the coldest before the power goes out. Thank you my dear!

  2. Aug 27 2011

    Oh my, Andrea, you really gave some great tips. We have been watching the storm warnings on CNN for the last few days. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this torential phenominia. It sounds as if this storm could affect more than a few million people and the aftermath will be a very costly one. I admire those people who for whatever reason will be standing by those very sick patients that they can’t move from hospitals due to the severity of their health. imagine volunteering to assist those in need, all while risking their own safety. It’s really something to know there are people in this world willing to do that.
    I hope this is more of a what if than a real event, but the way the storm is forming, looks like there is more fact than fiction. All my best to all of you who will be hunkering down.

  3. Aug 27 2011

    The best tips I’ve seen EVER! Thank you Andrea. Sherry, your’s are dynomite as well!

    • Aug 28 2011

      You’re welcome, RahRah. Sure hoping we won’t need these tips!

  4. Susan
    Aug 27 2011

    Good advice, but you forgot an important item – a manual can opener! My hurricane kit would not be complete without one.

    Susan in Orlando
    Survivor of Donna, David, Frederic, Dennis, Jerry, Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Fay and a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head

    • Aug 28 2011

      Hi Susan! That’s true…. and I should have added a portable radio, too! That, a flashlight, and a can opener are definitely must-haves in the storm! Thanks. 🙂

      • Susan
        Aug 28 2011

        I have several flashlights around the house, so I never really think of them as separate “hurricane” items. However, I do have a “coleman” style lantern in my kit and the all necessary portable weather radio in addition to most everything else listed.

        Everyone should also have an old-style non-portable telephone – those work when the power is still out but the land-line phone service returns. A car-charger and/or battery operated charger are nice for your cell phone.

        Of course, I also have charcoal, lighter fluid, and a grill, but those are also fairly standard for FL.

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