Just as we were getting used to our daily inundation of smoke from the Dismal Swamp fire, we go and have an earthquake, in Virginia of all places. Minor by Left Coast standards, but shocking to us nonetheless. But we had no time to dwell on fractures in the earth's crust, for we had an impending hurricane to deal with. As my friend Amy suggested, August was our month for Earth, Wind and Fire. Of the three, the wind portion of that trio had me the most concerned. Early on in its extensive coverage, Irene was predicted to be a "life changing event" and one that could "reshape the coastline". As a survivor of Hurricane Hugo, a life changing event for me, I pay attention when phrases like this are used.
So early in the week I headed to my parent's to help them get ready for the storm. I was already planning some time off there for one last summer trip of kayaking, beaching and relaxing, but instead it became time spent elevating, stowing and battening. Like many, we also watched a lot of television trying to determine how bad Irene was going to be, and what needed to be done in case of each possible scenario. I can't imagine living far from the coast, but one of the prices of that choice is having to deal with these sorts of events. So you remember what has happened before, do all that you can in preparation for what's to come and hope for the best.
The morning before I returned to Norfolk I walked to the nearby shore of Metompkin Bay. It is always beautiful to me, no matter the season, but I really enjoy the late summer when the marsh is at its peak. At the far side of the bay lies a thin strip of sand and a few dunes which is all that separates the very low lying Eastern Shore from the Atlantic beyond. I couldn't help wondering what the ocean might bring in two days.
Back in Norfolk I busied myself getting my own house in order. Among other tasks, I cleared the outside of anything that needed protection or that could become a projectile. When we were done the inside of our house looked as if it had taken a huge breath and inhaled the entire contents of the porch and deck.
With a mind toward this blog, I took this shot to show a before photo of the garden. We have had decent-for-August rains; the garden is looking full right now; I am happy with how it looks and wanted to remember it that way.
Fortunately I did not need to have an "after" photo. After a day and a half of wind, torrential rains, high tides and being stuck indoors - Irene left us with little damage. We were very, very fortunate and I am glad the full forecast for this area did not materialize. Don't get me wrong, we were not unphased. Several people in North Carolina and Virginia lost their lives, some had extensive property damage, and there was great inconveniences all over. But it could have been so much worse. All in all, my mind tells me Irene fell short of her older sister Isabel and well below the 2009 nor'easter.
Now that the storm has headed off to Greenland, there seems to be much debate about its media coverage and forecasting. Our power stayed on through the first half of the storm and we were able to stay updated and connected through the television and computer. However, I am pissed at CNN and The Weather Channel. At the height of the storm, when North Carolina and Virginia were under its full effects, these two networks gave you the impression there was a place called Cape Hatteras where hurricanes come ashore and then nothing of import north of it until you get to the Jersey beaches and Manhattan. I am not doubting the need to cover these areas, or the severity of Irene there, but I just wanted a little more balance, a little validation, even a quick shout-out. I wonder if they have ever heard of a place called Vermont.