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Storm’s Coming

Storm’s Coming

By the time you read this I’ll be in the air. Headed for Montana where my biggest worries will be wildfires and grizzlies. Mostly grizzlies.

A friend who’s spent a good bit of time in the Big Sky state sent me this pic over the weekend. I don’t think it’s photoshopped. I do think I’m going to need a bigger can of bear spray.


Enough about me. YOU have to deal with Hurricane Florence.

I wish you well. Shoot, I wish my family well. I feel bad leaving them behind.

As a parting gift, here are a few survival tips from a veteran of the hurricane-rich years of the last century. And of 2003, of course, when Isabel struck.

First, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to evacuate. And be quick about it. It may already be too late. There’s a reason many of us just smile weakly when emergency management types talk cheerfully about “orderly evacuations” of Tidewater.

We’ve seen tunnel traffic on summer weekends. We’ve spent hours stewing in it. We also know that the only thing worse than being stuck in your flimsy house for a Category 4 ‘cane  would be to be spend it in a colossal traffic jam on the bridge by Willoughby Spit.

That’s the trouble with storms. They don't file a flight plan. While meteorologists pore over data and try to predict where these hurricanes will go, we have to make our own decisions.

By the time the weather gets scary enough to make you want to leave town, it's too late.

If you’re safely ensconced in a Richmond Holiday Inn right now with your wedding album, your stamp collection and your schnauzer, you’ll feel like a genius if Tidewater is slammed later this week.

Of course, if the storm just grazes the region, you’ll have to slink back to town on Friday and beg your boss not to fire you.

Good luck with that.

OK, assuming you’re going to ride out the storm, there are certain things you are supposed to do.

You need to check your hurricane box. You do have one, right?

If yours is like mine it’s been raided so many times over the years it contains nothing but Sterno, some plastic spoons and a lone bottle of water, circa 2004.

Ours once held a bounty of canned tuna, canned soup, baked beans, beef jerky, crackers, peanut butter and and assortment of cookies.

What can I say? We got hungry.

Time to replenish. While you’re reloading your emergency supplies, be sure to add a bottle of vodka.

It's not only antiseptic, but it will also help you sleep through the racket made by your neighbor's generator.

Next, the experts tell us to fill our cars with gas and our bathtubs with water.

Cars, I get. Once the power’s out, there is no way to pump gas.

The bathtub confuses me. Are we also supposed to keep a supply of drinking straws nearby so the family can use them as they kneel to take a drink?

OK, here’s an important one: Make sure you have a corkscrew handy. Nothing takes the fun out of a hurricane quite like chewing the cork out of a bottle of wine.

Here’s a tip for caffeine addicts: Brew a fresh pot of coffee before the power goes out. Cold coffee beats no coffee. Oh, and you can heat your mug over a can of Sterno in a pinch. The only thing worse than a natural catastrophe is a natural catastrophe accompanied by a caffeine headache. 

Everyone knows to stockpile batteries and flashlights, of course.

But did you know, government emergency management types discourage the use of candles during a power outage?

Yep, they don’t trust us with fire. I wrote about this absurdity many times in the Pilot.

Think about it. Man mastered the art of fire about 1.9 million years ago. There's absolutely no reason bureaucrats shouldn't trust us around flames. What's next? A ban on fireplaces and Weber grills?

Have the geniuses in Richmond ever seen the parking lot at the Yankee Candle outlet in Williamsburg?

Go ahead and light those candles. Just keep them away from your oily rags.

That’s all I’ve got for you. All joking aside, please be careful. It’s been 15 years since our last major hurricane around here. Isabel was only a Cat 1 and did tremendous damage, mostly because the ground was already saturated before the winds hit, causing trees to topple all over the area.

Ground’s wet now, too.

Florence looks big and dangerous. I want to come home to find all of you in one piece.

Stay safe.

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