Volume 13, Issue 36 ~ September 9 - 14, 2005

Bay Reflections

The Storm Weatherer’s Guide to Living Well in Hurricane Season
by Barbi Shields

I know from experience that if you live near Chesapeake Bay, chances fairly good that sometimes you will be living with or in the water. You cannot save your home against Mother Nature if she really wants it, and a house is not worth the risk of losing your life. The bottom line is that material things — even Christmas ornaments — can be replaced.

So this time of year, it’s prudent to keep your vehicles filled with gasoline, essential prescriptions in stock and a bit of cash in your pocket.

If a natural disaster is forecast for where you live, decide it’s a good time to visit friends who live on higher ground. It might even be time for a party. To quote Jimmy Buffett’s Boomerang Love, “if you’re going to meet your maker, you don’t want to do it with a belly full of Spam.” So break out your best bottle of wine and enjoy it with a great meal and good company — high above the storm’s flood or surge line.

Take irreplaceable items — pictures, important documents, the family Bible and one or two special heirlooms — with you to higher ground or the trunk of your car, if you don’t have a higher ground.

If your home weathers the storm, you may still have some adjusting to do. Electricity runs our lives — well water, ATM machines, gasoline pumps and, most of all, our television that carries the Baltimore Orioles. We have come to depend on the premise that electricity will always be available, and that’s not true. Yet we can survive without it. Not for too long, but it can be done.

Keep your propane tank on the gas grill filled. Chicken nuggets and fries on a grill will satisfy hunger pangs, and fresh vegetables can be prepared deliciously in the frying pan. If your freezer is full of thick, juicy salmon, albacore tuna or T-bone steak, eat the best first. It’s better to lose a few $1.99 per-pound hamburgers than it is to lose the $9.99 per pound juicy steak or fish. Eat your ice cream early, too. I’ve never figured out how to preserve ice cream sandwiches for more than a day or two.

Drip coffeepots are wonderful in storms, and coffee can be made by boiling water in a pan to pour it over the grounds in the basket of electric coffee makers. Water is the essential element here. Many of us drink bottled water anyway, so have a case or two on hand, plus some gallon containers. You can use the water from your swimming pool, a nearby stream or even the Bay to take an outdoor bath and to force-flush your toilet, alleviating the outhouse aroma.

In your storm box, as well as essentials (see this week’s lead story) pack items to keep boredom at bay: Batteries to go in the portable television and flashlights; paper plates, bowls, flatware and cups (better than stockpiling dirty dishes in the sink until the water comes back on); a few new games to play by candlelight (don’t forget matches); a long line to string up for a makeshift clothesline; good books to read while the television is off. Your cell phone can keep you in touch with the outside world; recharge it in your car.

Once the power goes out, turn off the breakers to your computerized stoves, computers and televisions in case of surges when electricity is restored.

Stroll your neighborhood after the storm to help your neighbors in need. Watch out for downed lines, and never get near wires or cables that have fallen to the ground.

If the storm hits hard, you’ll be prepared to make the best of an uncommon situation.

Barbi Shields has lived her life in Bay Country. She rather enjoys pulling up boats in advance of storms, as it’s much easier than trying to get them out after they have sunk.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.