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Friday, August 26, 2011

Charleston, S.C., Prepares for Hurricane Irene (ContributorNetwork)

FIRST PERSON | CHARLESTON, S.C. -- When you're at the beach with girlfriends, there's not a lot of newspaper reading going on. We're not keeping up with the world; we're here to celebrate birthdays. It's only through social media and the telephone that I learned I'm in Hurricane Irene's expected path. Whether I stay at our vacation spot on Ocean Isle Beach or go home to Charleston, I'll face tropical storms or worse.

Hurricane Irene is now a Category 2 storm with 100 mph maximum sustained winds. According to the National Hurricane Center, she's expected to reach Category 3 strength by Wednesday morning. The hurricane has my full attention now.

My husband called this morning so we could plan. When faced with the potential of a hurricane, we strive to have supplies to carry us through a week with no electricity. He's responsible for finding flashlights, a transistor radio, and making sure we have batteries. Additionally, he'll get our primary and backup canisters of propane topped off (if he can find any propane) and get his car filled with petrol. Then he'll hit the ATM.

Groceries are my responsibility. I went to the store here on OIB to load up on beanie weenies and chicken noodle soup for Eddie, black bean soup, canned cheese ravioli and canned vegetables for me. I also stocked up on fresh fruit, peanut butter, bread and water. These groceries, combined with our Charleston inventory, should last a week. There's already plenty of dog food and cat food at home.

My plan is to drive from Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., to Charleston, S.C., on Thursday. The National Weather Service forecast predicts tropical storm conditions will reach Charleston on Friday, so I should be ahead of the storm. When I get home we'll gather up the candles and matches and fill the bathtubs with water. We'll bring the potted plants, outdoor furniture and anything else that can become a missile inside.

If Hurricane Irene stays a Category 3, we intend to ride it out-unless Charleston is told to evacuate. If the storm reaches a Category 4, we don't need to be told what to do. We'll head west, up to the Ashville area.

Out-of-town friends have called offering places of refuge, so we know there are accommodations available for me, my husband, our cat and our dog. Whether we stay or go, I'm comforted by the fact that we have done what we can to prepare for Hurricane Irene.

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