If you live in hurricane territory, you can connect with how fickle these storms can be. This week Hurricane Matthew stumped meteorologists with his indecisiveness. First it seemed as though he would nail North Carolina. Then the weather models showed a disastrous blow to Florida before circling and hitting Miami or the Bahamas again. As Coastal Floridians packed up their lives and headed inland, Matthew changed his mind once more and set his sights on South Carolina. He flooded the entire coast, collapsed piers, and destroyed homes. Virginians and Outer Bankers thought they were in the clear, but one more wobble and suddenly, the Worrell family found themselves needing to think about possible power outages from 50 mile an hour wind gusts.
Fifty mile an hour wind gusts aren’t that big a deal unless you live in the woods under 100 year old oaks rooted precariously in saturated ground. Even though we shouldn’t have NEAR the damage that states to the south have suffered, this could mean a long power outage. Past storms have left us in the dark for a minimum of 2-3 days. Hurricane Isabel left us on generator power for fifteen days. The rest of the county was up in about 5-10 days, but we are way back here in the woods. Trees had fallen all over the power lines leading to our driveway, and our power pole had snapped in half. So while everyone else was back to life as usual, we were stuck in storm mode. That meant a trip outside to pull-start the generator before we could begin the day, fix food, and head off to work. We had to wash clothes, do homework, and get kids ready for sports practices all while tripping on extension cords running in the house through open windows from the generator. We could do nothing without listening to the constant rumble of the engine—it was like having a lawnmower running in the kitchen. It sucked. And we ran out of cake.
Since then, I don’t think of hurricanes as category 1-5—instead, I measure storms’ severity based on what I have to buy and do in preparation to maintain my sanity during a long power outage. ‘Cause we all know, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.
- A weak category 1 or tropical storm is a one-cake scenario. Since it’s been a few years since we’ve had a good tropical wallop, I threw in three dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for good measure. I have a family-sized box of Double Stuff Golden Oreos on stand-by. Oreos make everything better—especially the golden ones.
- For us, Hurricane Matthew is a case of beer and a two-bottle of wine storm. If we lived further south, I would have filled my cart and visited the notorious Alphabet Store. You have to have something cold after cutting up fallen 100 year old oak trees or wrangling cooped up children for 48 hours.
- Hurricane Matthew has the potential to be a two-case of Diet Coke storm. It goes without saying to cool any beverages thoroughly in a fridge turned down to the lowest setting. It all stays cold for hours until it stops storming enough to fire up your generator.
- Every storm here, even your average line of cold-front generated thunderstorms, has the potential to require generator power. My mother, the quintessential put-together female, loves her generator. Before she and my dad got a whole house generator installed, they had two portable ones—one for the storms and one spare in case of engine failure. Because failure isn’t an option if you’ve had to cook peas on a kerosene heater in your bedroom on Christmas Day during an ice storm.
- Matthew is a minor battery storm. I actually didn’t buy any because I had a bunch stored from the winter. I did, however, buy some delicious smelling candles. Since it’s fall, the summer jar candles were only a couple bucks at the local Wal-Mart. Three or four of those bad boys around the house will overrun the smell of the wet dog and keep you from stepping on your kids’ Lego bricks when the lights go out. You’ll want to wait for the storm to pass before you go fire up your generator. You don’t want him to get wet, and you can’t bring him in the house.
- Even a tropical storm with the slight possibility of power outages is cause for a Frantic Laundry Event. I learned this lesson during an ice storm that knocked out power for a week. I didn’t know it was coming, forgot I had clothes in the wash, and discovered them a week later when I smelled something weird. So now, EVERYTHING—clothes, towels, and bedding—gets washed, folded and put away. Frantic Laundry Events happen so infrequently around this house that the poor clothes get confused. They all think they have been sold to another, more organized family.
- And finally, Matthew’s forecast change has resulted in me whipping up some Cat. 5 Casserole. It’s nice to cook with non-processed, non-boxed foods, but we’re in storm mode so chill with all that Paleo, Real Food Stuff. Can you say non-perishable? You’ll learn quickly to embrace the box and the can after fifteen days without power. So get yourself some Oreos—the gold ones go well with your average boxed wine—and prepare to camp out. Good luck!
This post has been linked up with Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop.