The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Surviving the Storm

This isn't a very good post, but here's some of what I wrote while waiting out the storm...

You may have noticed a lack of posts lately. That’s mostly because I’ve been running around - at home and at work - in preparations for Hurricane Frances. Luckily for me, it looks like my home, office, etc are all well south of where the storm is expected to make landfall. Still, life has been very different from normal lately as everyone loads up on supplies, including a number of things that you wouldn’t normally think of.

Many of you who don’t live in Florida are probably wondering at this point why anyone does live in Florida - especially after Charley visited us a few weeks ago, Frances is about to, and Ivan is brewing just to our south. Well, it’s quite simple really. You probably live somewhere where there are four seasons. Most of Florida does not have four seasons - for the most part we don’t have winter. Especially for those of us in South Florida, our version of winter is probably more similar to what most of you think of as nice Fall or Spring weather. The truth of it is that we live here because there’s the ocean and it doesn’t really get cold. The price that we pay for this is the occasional threat of a hurricane. I’ve lived here for ten hurricane seasons now and (knock on wood) so far I have not experienced a serious hurricane (one or two small ones and numerous threats like this latest one - which come very close, even to the point of shutting down the city, but that don’t hit). It’s a trade-off I suppose. We all make them. Other places get tornadoes or earthquakes. Florida is subject to hurricanes. That’s just how it is.

For those of you who don’t live in Florida, or somewhere else that gets threatened by hurricanes, let me describe to you how the process of preparing for a hurricane goes: first of all, your local weatherpeople turn into masters of hype. It starts when someone feels a strong breeze in Africa. This message is somehow relayed to a weather person who will inevitably report a “disturbance” off the coast of Africa. Although this is literally thousands of miles away from anywhere in America at this point, it will be reported. After one station picks up on it, the others soon will too. This is where the hysteria begins. Everyone is trying to outdo each other, in an attempt to get you to watch their station. Some stations will say that the current storm is on almost the exact same track as some storm that came right over your house in 1926 - this is just a scare tactic, as it usually doesn’t take into account other weather patterns, like hot and cold fronts, which play a big role in pushing these storms towards or away from you.

Eventually though, a storm will get close enough to you that it becomes necessary to prepare. You’ll need water, flash lights, candles, food, medicine, and any other necessities to get you through three to seven days without anything - no power, no shopping, no getting around your neighborhood. This is preparing you for the worst, which you’ll have to do, because otherwise you could end up stuck if the storm hits your area and you don’t have food. In a lot of ways, this is incomprehensible for an American, because we’re so used to just walking into a grocery store or the mall and having virtually unlimited options available to us. But, if you saw any of the images from the fall out of Hurricane Charley you realize that this luxury can be quickly and completely taken away from you.

So what do you do for supplies? Well, most people track down a list, either on-line or that you can find at your grocery store (which is usually co-produced with a local news station). This isn’t really necessary though. If you wait long enough - probably until the first time you hear a local elected official “urge you to make your final preparations” - you can just go to the store and use my simple strategy to acquire what you need. Just go to the store and walk around - aimlessly if you need to. Find an aisle and walk down it. When you come to an area where there’s a large gap in the stock of the shelves, grab whatever is left. This will usually happen wherever there is water, canned food, or other necessities (toilet paper, candles, something to heat your food, etc). You will notice that there will normally be plenty of canned food left, but most of what there’s a lot of is probably something you don’t want; it’s either ethnic food, or something that you just don’t want. Only buy things that you will really eat. If it doesn’t look appealing on the shelf, it’s most likely just going to sit in your house - possibly for years. Skip it if you don’t like it.
So start accumulating your things. A gallon of water per person per day for one week - so seven gallons of water per person. Once you have the essential things, it’s time to sweep through for the other things. I always recommend beer, wine, and whatever other hard alcohol you want. You’ll want the booze because there’s just not much to do while you wait for the storm, and it’s not like you can go out anywhere for a drink (everywhere will be closed). Plus, if you have booze, people will want to come to you, and you won’t have to go to them, so you won’t have to worry about going out on the street.

All of that’s a big plus, but the sun’s out now, so I think I’m going to head outside for the first time in awhile. More later…


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