Let me get the serious stuff out of the way first. I’m lucky that Isaac (hurricane or tropical storm depending on when you’re reading this) is basically missing my area. I recognize how fortunate I am. I worry for my family who will get a much more direct impact from the storm than I will. I worry for those who survived Hurricane Katrina and now get another storm on the anniversary of her arrival. I hate it, it sucks, and it’s the one downside to living where I do.
But can I continue to be completely honest?
I am SO freaking tired of talking about Isaac! In my neck of the woods, we’ve been talking about Isaac since last week – Thursday, I think. It wasn’t even on top of Cuba yet and there was conjecture, there was supposition, and of course, there was panic!
I’m so tired of talking about Isaac, I wouldn’t even want to talk about Isaac Hayes, if I had a reason to! And yes, I recognize the irony that my entire post is dedicated to Isaac – I get it.
My world was dead center of the “cone of uncertainty.” Damn cone of F-ing uncertainty. My mother began requesting constant weather updates to the point that when she called, I stopped saying hello. Instead I said, “We’re still in the center of the cone, it may be a Cat 1 by landfall, who knows. Yes, I will be prepared. No I’m not evacuating. Yes we’ll be fine.”
But as I explained to countless newbies who had not gone through a hurricane before, until it gets in the Gulf of Mexico, the cone, the trackers, and conjectures are basically bullshit. Nobody knows – they’re just guessing based on the weather at that basic moment and what they think the weather’s going to do next. Have you watched the local weather lately? When was the last time they got it 100% right? You really think I’m going to start panicking a week out??
If you’re not aware, the Gulf of Mexico, during the summer, is like soup. Warm-ass soup. And we had a really mild winter, which means the Gulf never really got that cold. NO ONE wants a storm to reach the Gulf. No. One. Sure, give a storm that loves a warm bubble bath time to churn for a while. What could go wrong? Everything.
Just to give you an idea of how I feel about hurricanes – I don’t evacuate. I don’t throw a party and I don’t go to them, either (because it’s really illegal to put your children on a shelf during a hurricane party…the authorities frown on that.). I get my crap inside, I hunker down, I wait it out. That’s what I do. I’ve said that I would evacuate for a Category 3 storm, but I’m not even sure I’d do that. Everyone who’s lived through more than one hairy hurricane season has their threshold for when they’ll leave – some never do. I never have. No place to go, no money to get there, and my worst fear is being stuck on the interstate as the storm hits. And of course, sometimes if you leave, you can’t get back in – I want to be able to get back to my stuff, even if it’s strewn across the damn highway.
Back to the Gulf, soup, and the unpredictability of stupid cones. Let me share with you how the cone and Gulf don’t always communicate very well…
I lived in south Mississippi when Hurricane Ivan hit. I don’t even remember what category it was now (guess I should Google that, huh?). But I remember distinctly that it was coming straight for Biloxi, MS. I settled in to my mom’s house with The Ex (before he was an ex), my roommate at the time, and my mom’s dog (Mama was already remarried, I think, or close to it so she was with The Step). That was the SCARIEST thing I’ve ever sat through. Wind howled, things got picked up and flung at the house, and of course, the power went out.
We weren’t watching TV at that point, so while we thought it was coming straight for us, Ivan actually did what a lot of storms do in the Gulf, it veered at the last minute, and pounded Pensacola, FL. Ironically, six months later, I would move the panhandle area and witness a sea of blue roofs (from all the tarps). We were sure it was headed for us, because that’s what the damn projections said. The storm and the gulf had other plans. That’s how these storms go. ALL of them.
So, now, can you understand why maybe I’m a little annoyed that on THURSDAY the world began to panic slightly about my area being in the center of the cone. I was one of a few voices saying, “Can we wait until it’s in the Gulf of Mexico? Please?”
Now, that being said, I did get my preparations done Friday and Saturday. Mostly to avoid the rush of the Monday afternoon people who were waiting for the magic 24-36 hour time frame to ransack every store in the tri-county area of bread, water, and peanut butter.
The joke, for those of us who live in these areas, is that the moment you buy your supplies, get your windows boarded up, and prepare for the worst, the storm won’t come to you. So all weekend, I did my part to insure that Isaac went elsewhere. On Friday, I bought 2 gigantic cases of water from Sam’s (the last two they had in the store, thankyouverymuch). On Saturday, I bought way too much bread and peanut butter. And then I refused to buy a full gallon of milk (opting for the half gallon) in case I lost power for more than a few hours. All of these things mean that I won’t need all the damn water or the bread. I comfort myself with knowing that they won’t go to waste, so it’s not a total loss.
For all my annoyance and flippancy, I do worry for the people who will take the brunt of the storm. When you live here, you always want it to go somewhere else. In my area, we just pray for west, WAY west. I like the idea of Mexico…don’t they need rain?
I am ready for the storm, though. The car has plenty of gas, we can go a few days without electricity if we have to, and I’ve pulled in all the big chunks of crap to lessen the amount of debris that could get picked up. I do all this simply because I don’t want to be the crappiest mother alive for real, NOT because I think there’s much to worry about. Panic is contagious. And since we’ve been talking about this since THURSDAY, I’m pretty much trying to keep my perspective here, and not let everyone else’s worry get to me. Especially the people who’ve never been through a storm.
One last piece of advice for those of you who have never been through a hurricane – if the people who have lived in the area ALL THEIR LIVES aren’t panicking, please calm down. You don’t know more than they do about a hurricane, I promise. When they start to freak out and pack up their crap, THEN it’s time to panic.