Hurricane Sandy and Personal Storm Season Reflections

Be PreparedI woke up to the sound of a monster whispering outside my door this morning. She’s never been to Boston before, but today will be the day she makes her presence known in a very profound way. Who is she?

Right now, if you live and work on the eastern coast of the United States like I do, you probably know the ‘monster’ I’m referring to.

Truth is, I’ve been anticipating Hurricane Sandy and her wrath for days now. I’d be lying if I weren’t anxious to some degree. She is not only my ‘monster’ but everyone else’s.

We’ve had days to prepare for her arrival. Despite the advanced news, it amazes me how many people still wait until the last minute to stock up on necessities such as food, water, and batteries.

After church yesterday, I stopped by Trader Joe’s in Brookline – not to buy anything – but to witness the enormous lines of people standing at the checkout lanes. I didn’t bother to count. It looked like Christmas shopping in October.

I’m sure the scene was the same everywhere. Limited parking, empty shelves, shopping carts everywhere, long checkout lanes, short tempers – all of these make for an unpleasant shopping experience.

I’ve never been one to stock up on necessities right before a storm. Growing up in Virginia Beach, hurricane season came and went without much fanfare. My parents always ensured we had a supply of the basics, so it’s no surprise I do the same now. In other words, we were prepared. I never recalled going days without power. We even lived right near a tributary of the Elizabeth River, but we never had problems with floods. Our neighbor to the south, North Carolina, always seemed to take the brunt of most storms that made their way up the mid-Atlantic coast.

Then I made my way northward to Boston.

Over the years, I admit to never paying much attention to the storms that churned off the coast of the Atlantic. Not until the day a tree came crashing down, all 30 feet of it, and narrowly missed my house as a result of Hurricane Irene’s damaging winds. Many of its branches brushed against the side of my house and its long trunk flattened a portion of my new fence. My family and I helplessly witnessed the entire descent from inside. It was a near miss, but it will forever stay a life-altering moment for me.

As with many areas in life, it pays to be prepared as much as possible. Doing so might not solve every problem, but it might mean putting up with a lot less stress. I might not have been able to save that tree, but I knew who to contact and what to do immediately after it fell.

As I sit and write this today, Hurricane Sandy’s howling winds outside my office bring back horrible memories of that fateful day last year. I will pay more attention to these storms now. You just never know when they may affect you in some way.

Image credit:  Susan Ho