My Hurricane Irene Story

In case someone ever says, “Where were you during Hurricane Irene back in 2011?”

On Wednesday night, I read that some stores were already out of water as people were preparing for the hurricane.  That made me anxious that I hadn’t been preparing early enough and I didn’t sleep well.

On Thursday morning I was able to drop the kids of at a drama camp at our church and head to Walmart to get all the necessary hurricane supplies.  Some food, but not a lot in case we lost our power.  A couple jugs of water…there were only about a dozen left on the shelves.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to pick up some flashlights.  And then a lot of other things that put my total way over $100!  I was also buying birthday presents for some upcoming parties and other random things that Walmart entices you to buy.  Oh, and a new doorknob for the back door.

I came home and spent all afternoon cleaning the garage.  Because you can’t put all of your outdoor things in the garage unless it’s well organized and clean, right?  Or is it just me?  Am I the only one fanatically cleaning her garage as part of hurricane preparedness?  Then I worried that after all this work, it would get flooded or damaged somehow and it would all have been a waste of time.

Last weekend the doorknob to the back door broke so that’s why I bought the new doorknob.  I figured it would be a good thing to have a doorknob instead of a hole back there when the hurricane came through.  I finally got that installed (such as it is) around 8pm, just as it was getting dark.  I still hadn’t cleaned up the back porch so I worked on that in the dark and practically got eaten alive by the bugs out there.

As of Thursday night I hadn’t decided if I was staying here or leaving.  I had everything I needed to stay and I had a friend’s house in Fayetteville to go to if I decided to leave.  It was such an agonizing decision for me.  I really wanted to be here to defend my house, whatever that might entail.  If it looked like it was going to flood, I wanted to be able to move things to higher ground.  I was a little bit worried about trees falling.  The really big ones are pretty far away but it’s possible they could reach our house.  All of a sudden it seemed like we had way too many windows, too many possibilities that a window could be broken.  I also didn’t want my kids to be scared out of their minds.  I knew that if I stayed calm, they wouldn’t be afraid but I didn’t really want to take any chances with them.

I kept telling myself I would make a decision after the next storm update, hoping that Irene would stay as far east as possible.  After cleaning the garage/outside of the house, I did all the laundry and cleaned the inside of the house.  I heard that if your house is clean, the hurricane doesn’t bother with you.  Right?

Friday morning comes along.  House is clean, inside and out.  If I’m staying I need to clean the tubs and fill them with water and fill a few more jugs with water.  If I’m leaving I need to leave.  I do nothing.  I can’t decide.  I really want to stay in my house but I’m not 100% sure that we’ll be safe here and the last thing I want to do is endanger the kids.  I’m not worried about losing power but I’m worried about trees falling and windows breaking and holes in my house that aren’t supposed to be there.

The morning drags on with my indecision.  I don’t think I’ve talked on the phone as much as I did on Thursday and Friday, hemming and hawing with friends about what to do.  One of my neighbors leaves.  Another tells me horror stories about her uncle who was in a hurricane.  Pat will be on his ship the whole time and he really wants me to leave.  My mother-in-law doesn’t tell me she wants me to leave, but I can tell that she does.

Mid-morning I went to the bank and got cash.  Then I went to Target to see if they had Diesel 10.  Diesel 10 is a train that Jack has been bugging me about for days.  He really needs it.  My life would be a lot easier if he would just stop talking about it and I decide that Diesel 10 is part of our hurricane prep.  It’s not in the store, but at least he’ll stop talking about it now…as long as I go right home and order it on the internet.

Finally around noon, I decide to leave.  But it’s a little to late to head to Fayetteville.  It looks like the storm has already arrived there.  I call around and get a hotel room in Richmond.  I really don’t want to have to drive too far since I’ve left it so late.  My neighbor was staying at a hotel in Glen Allen, a northwest suburb of Richmond, so I switch to a hotel near her.  Pat comes home to help bring the rest of the outdoor items inside before he has to head back to the ship.

I throw a bunch of things in the car.  We drive to Richmond.  We take a different route than most everyone else is taking.  It’s slow in parts but I think it was better than the interstate.  The hotel is adequate.  Not super nice but it will work.

Glen Allen turns out to be really nice.  We can walk to a shoe store and a Marshalls.  There is a brand new town center only a couple miles away.  We meet our neighbor and her daughter out for dinner.

On Saturday morning, the storm starts to whack North Carolina but we still have a little time before we get some rain.  The kids and I pass an enjoyable morning at Hobby Lobby.  This place is awesome.  Everyone who writes a crafty blog has written about some great deal or great something that they’ve gotten at Hobby Lobby and I was so excited to go there.  It’s like Michael’s and Joann’s and Garden Ridge all rolled up in one store.

We each picked out a Christmas ornament.  They had such a great selection and the kids passed so much time while they tried to pick out their favorite one.  So now we have our 2011 Hurricane ornaments.  We wandered through all the aisles.  I bought some fabric and tulle.  The kids tried to get me to buy every toy they saw.  There were a lot of things they “needed.”  It was a great trip to Hobby Lobby.  I just wish I had a list of all the supplies I needed for all the crafts that I’ve come across in the last year that I thought I wanted to make.  It was kind of a letdown to be there and not have any project in mind or any supplies that I knew I wanted.

We grabbed some lunch and headed back to the hotel.  I thought we might go out again for dinner.  Irene thought otherwise.  Turns out that Irene was pretty rough on Richmond too.  I could see some young maple trees blowing in the wind from my hotel room.  I had the tv on most of the day watching the coverage.  At one point 75% of Richmond had lost power.  Luckily, we did not.  The kids did well.  There were no good kids’ channels.  Cartoon Network is awful.  They played with their Legos and some new stickerbooks I thought to bring with me.  They played with their new flashlights and pretended they were lightsabers.  (A lot less crying than with their real lightsabers.)  They jumped on the beds.  It was a long afternoon but not awful.

I fanatically checked facebook all day to see how people were doing.  The local news was also updating often and other people were posting their pictures on the news facebook page.

By Sunday morning, it was sunny and breezy and the storm was gone.  We went to a church in Glen Allen that was only a few minutes away and then headed home.  Thankfully there was no damage to our house and our whole neighborhood looked pretty good.

And that’s my really long story of Hurricane Irene!  In the end it turns out that Richmond wasn’t much quieter than home but we felt safe and secure in our hotel room and we didn’t lose power and we had a nice little adventure out of it.  Jack and Casey really like hotel rooms so it didn’t phase them a bit.  I was secretly glad that I got to experience a little bit of the storm but that nothing catastrophic happened either home or in Richmond.

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