FIRST PERSON | SANFORD, N.C. -- As I write this story, I am watching the local news, which has been tightly focused on Hurricane Irene's steady approach toward North Carolina. I grew up in Virginia and attended graduate school in South Carolina, so I've seen my share of hurricanes. One thing I've noticed is that hurricanes seem particularly fond of hitting North Carolina. I have watched this state bear the brunt of storm after storm, while Virginia and South Carolina often end up relatively unscathed.
Another reason I'm nervous about Hurricane Irene is because about four months ago, my husband and I weathered our first tornado. The tornado hit Sanford, N.C., with a vengeance; thankfully, our house was not damaged, but the remnants of that storm are still clearly evident not even a quarter mile from our home.
The neighborhood just east of ours looks like it was attacked by a drunken lumberjack, with dozens of mature trees that were snapped in half after just a few minutes of severe rain and high winds. There are still plenty of boarded up homes, sheared off trees, pieces of scrap metal embedded in tree trunks and tarps on roofs to remind us of the catastrophic wrath Mother Nature can unexpectedly unleash. My memories of that scary tornado are still very fresh and have made it impossible for me to be apathetic about the approaching storm that could be affecting us this weekend.
Sanford, along with many other places on the East Coast, also experienced a very rare earthquake today. This rare earthquake, preceding what is forecast to be a substantial hurricane, will no doubt make plenty of people nervous.
Thanks to the tornado that hit Sanford in April, I have already invested in an emergency radio that runs on solar power. This morning, I reminded my husband to pick up some batteries, water, propane, matches and candles in preparation for the storm.
I also asked my husband if he thought we might want to purchase a generator, but then I remembered our local Lowe's hardware store was destroyed during the tornado. One thing the tornado taught me is that the local radio station is great during a crisis; I expect to be able to tune into WJFA Classic Hits and Oldies and get up-to-the-minute coverage of how Hurricane Irene has affected Sanford and where we can go for help if we need it. That's a small comfort in the face of a big storm.