As Hurricane Irene rips its way up the eastern seaboard, millions of Americans, many of whom endured their first earthquake less than a week ago, are hunkered down and waiting to see just how bad this storm is going to get. And from the satellite photos, Irene appears to be massive. In fact, some news sources are calling it "the storm of the century." That's fairly heavy hyperbole since the century is very young and the weather effects of global warming are still in their infancy.
But, hyperbole aside, Irene appears to be a damn big storm - one that is certain to bring a fair amount of death along hundreds of miles of destruction.
Okinawa, my current home, is expecting to be close to the path of another typhoon in a few days. The last one, just a couple of weeks ago, beat this little island savagely for nearly three full days. I am consequently learning quite a bit about preparing for big storms. (I have also been rocked by three minor earthquakes during the past year.)
I know, for instance, the importance of having canned goods in the event that the electricity goes out and the refrigerator dies. My electricity was basically spared during the last storm (it was out for about an hour), but friends just up the road were in the dark for over twenty-four hours. The line crews aren't going to be out making repairs when the winds are blowing at over 120 m.p.h. I also keep a good supply of bottled water, and, in fact, went out and bought an extra case this morning.
I acquired an emergency radio/flashlight combination just before the last storm, one of those little jobbers that does not require batteries - just crank it and it's good to go! I also have a five-cell flashlight that throws a beam half-way to the Pacific side of the island, along with candles, matches, and a full bottle of Baileys!
But, the most important precaution to take when the hurricane (or typhoon) winds are blowing is to keep your butt indoors. If the electricity goes out, read a good book by candlelight, eat spaghetti out of a can, or go to bed and cover up. It will all be over eventually.
Stay strong, America, Irene, too, shall pass.