As many long-time readers will know, we do have a little bit more than average experience dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes. I ain’t no expert in the before part; you need to heed the local, very local, professionals who will guide you through any preparation, and neighborhood specific guidelines, for your immediate area.
But when it comes to the ‘after part’, well, as a long-time CERT recovery member perhaps I can guide you through the expectation and you might find some value. Consider this little word salad a buffet, absorb what might be of value pass over anything else.
When the winds reach around 40mph, the utility company will likely, proactively, shut down the power. This makes things a heck of a lot safer in the aftermath; and much easier and safer during the rebuild. Don’t expect the power to be turned back on until it is safe.
Hurricanes can be frightening; downright scary. There’s nothing quite like going through a few to reset your outlook on just how Mother Nature can deliver a cleansing cycle to an entire geographic region.
Telephone and power poles, yes, even the concrete ones, can, and likely will, snap like toothpicks. There’s a sound when you are inside a hurricane that you can never forget. It ain’t a howl, it’s a roar. A damn scary roar that just won’t quit…. it will… eventually, but at the time you are hearing it, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end.
A constant, and pure rage of scary wind that doesn’t ebb and flow like normal wind and storms… hurricane wind just starts and stays, sometimes for hours. Relentless and damn scary…. it just won’t let up. And then, depending on her irrelevant opinion toward your insignificant presence, hopefully she stops.
Then silence. No birds. No frogs. No crickets. No sound.
Nature goes mute. It’s weird.
We have no idea how much ambient noise is around us, until it stops.
Oh, if she wants, she’ll keep dumping buckets on you as she wanders away. Buckets. Not pails, garbage can sized buckets. After the scour, yup, nature too has a rinse cycle.
If your town, city or hamlet is not underwater, there will be convoys coming to construct a pre-planned electricity grid recovery process. Convoys from every city, town and state from the east-coast to the mid-west. A glorious melding of dirty fingernails all arriving for the meet-up. Depending on your proximity to the bigger picture objectives at hand, you will cherish their arrival.
But first, there will be an assessment. The convoys will stage at pre-determined locations using radios for communication. Street-by-street everything needs to be evaluated prior to thinking about beginning to rebuild a grid. Your patience within this process is needed; heck, it ain’t like you’ve got a choice in the matter…. so just stay positive.
Meanwhile, you might walk outside and find yourself a stranger in your neighborhood.
It will all be cattywampus.
Trees gone, crap everywhere, if you don’t need to travel, DON’T.
I mean CRAP e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
Stay away from power-lines.
Be entirely prepared to be lost in your own neighborhood and town for days, weeks, and even months. Unknown to you – your subconscious mind is like a human GPS mapping system. When that raging Florence takes away the subconscious landmarks I guarantee you – you are gonna get lost, make wrong turns, miss the exit etc.
It’s kinda funny and weird at the same time.
Your brain is wired to turn left at the big oak next to the Church, and the road to your house is likely two streets past the 7-11 or Circle-k. You don’t even notice that’s how you travel around town; that’s just your brain working – it is what it is.
Well, now the big oak is gone; so too is the Circle-K and 7-11 signs. Like I said, everything is cattywampus. Your brain will need to reboot and rewire. In the interim, you’re gonna get lost… don’t get frustrated.
Remember, when it is safe to drive, every single intersection must be treated like a four-way stop…. and YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION. Even the major intersections.
You’ll need to override your brain tendency to use memory in transit. You’ll need to pay close attention and watch for those who ain’t paying close attention. Travel sparingly, it’s just safer.
Check on your-self first, then your neighbors. It don’t matter if you’ve never said a word to the guy in the blue house before. It ain’t normalville now.
Break out of your box and check on the blue house down the street too. In the aftermath, there’s no class structure. Without power, the big fancy house on the corner with a pool is just a bigger mess. Everyone is equally a mess.
The first responders in your neighborhood are YOU.
You, the wife, your family, Mrs. Wilson next door; Joe down the street; Bob’s twin boys and the gal with the red car are all in this together. If you don’t ordinarily cotton to toxic masculinity you will worship it in the aftermath of a hurricane. Git-r-done lives there.
Don’t stand around griping with a 40′ tree blocking the main road to your neighborhood. Figure out who’s got chainsaws and set about clearing the road. If every neighborhood starts clearing their own roadways, the recovery crews can then move in for the details.
Stage one focuses on major arteries… then secondary… then neighborhood etc. It’s a process. Oh, and don’t get mad if your fancy mailbox is ploughed-over by a focused front end loader who is on a priority mission to clear a path. Just deal with it.
Phase-1 recovery is necessarily, well, scruffy…. we’re just moving and managing the mess; not trying to clean it up yet. It’ll be ok.
Keep a joyous heart filled with thankfulness; and if you can’t muster it, then just pretend. Don’t be a jerk. You will be surrounded by jerks…. elevate yourself. If you need to do a few minutes of cussing, take a walk. Keep your wits about you and stay calm.
Now, when the recovery teams arrive…. If you pass a line-man, pole-digger or crew say thanks. Just simple “thanks”. Wave at them and give them a thumbs-up. No need to get all unnecessarily familiar, a simple “thank you for your help” will generally suffice. You know, ordinary people skills.
Many of these smaller crews will be sleeping in cots, or in their trucks while they are working never-ending shifts. If you eventually start getting power back, and see a crew in a restaurant, same thing applies… “thanks guys”. If you can pay their tab, do it. If you can pay their tab without them knowing, even better.
Same goes for the tanker truckers. The convenience stores with gas pumps are part of the priority network. Those will get power before other locales without power. Fuel outlets are a priority. Hospitals, first responders, emergency facilities, fuel outlets, then comes commercial and residential.
Remember, you are the first responder for your neighborhood. Don’t quit.
Recovery is a process. Depending on the scale of the impact zone, the process can take days, weeks and even months. Take care of your family, friends and neighborhood, and generally make a conscious decision to be a part of any needed solution.
It’ll be ok.
It might be a massive pain in the a**, but in the end, it’ll be ok.
Keep a good thought. Who knows, we might even end up shaking hands.
It’ll be OK. Promise.