I guess my way of preparing for an emergency is to blog about it – sort of like, as I’ve previously noted, my friend Cyndi’s way of coping with a crisis is to throw a party. (See “The Norsemen Cometh.”) In fact, I hope to row over to Cyndi’s house tomorrow afternoon for one of her bashes in my Hawaiian shirt and toss back a couple of stiff Hurricanes. In the meantime, I thought I’d better post an entry before we lose power for the next week.

 

I don’t want to sound cavalier. I’m actually panicked about this “Frankenstorm” – two powerful systems set to converge on the Eastern Seaboard and my hometown, Philadelphia, starting sometime tomorrow afternoon and carrying on long enough to ruin Halloween.

 

In fact, Hurricane Sandy has already killed approximately two dozen people in the Caribbean and is threatening to merge with a cold front over the mid-Atlantic region and New England over the next several days with what forecasters are predicting will be catastrophic consequences. Kathy Orr, a meteorologist with the CNN affiliate in Philadelphia, reported that this could be a storm “of historic proportion,” with the City of Brotherly Love being a direct target. As one Facebook friend posted this morning, “We’re screwed.”

 

And dealing with my 5-year-old son’s overtired meltdowns, his 2-year-old sister’s relentless demands, and his twin sister’s panicked questions are not helping me and my husband prepare. “It’s not gonna’ be that bad, right mommy?” Georgia keeps asking. “Our roof’s not going to blow off or anything, right? I mean, it’s not going to be as bad as the hurricane last year?”

‘No,’ I thought. ‘It’s going to be much worse.’

 

Last August, we somehow dodged the brunt of Irene, despite all the dire predictions for our area. And even though we ended up sleeping in our foyer, the only place I deemed safe from falling branches, we luckily just suffered a lot of wind and rain and didn’t even lose power.

 

Last year’s storm did inspire us to do $4,000-worth of tree removal and trimming, which I’m now convinced was insufficient treatment for our 11 trees – one of which I am sure, this time, will crash through our roof. And we never did get around to buying that generator we swore to purchase after last year’s drenching. Now it’s too late. With an extended power outage and 10 inches of rain, our sump pump will cease and our basement will fill.

 

I wish I could approach this impending disaster philosophically, like the composed mothers I encountered this morning at my daughter’s ballet class. “What are you doing to prepare?” I anxiously asked them. “What do you think is going to happen?”

“You can’t control mother nature,” one mom calmly observed.

 

I know. But I wish I could.

 

So on the way home, Georgia and I stopped at Giant to stock up on water, batteries and nonperishables. We had to circle the lot three times before we found a parking space. Inside, I spoke to a woman who said she was panicked and that her husband thought she was crazy. “I can relate,” I said. Then I dragged Georgia through the aisles, randomly grabbing the following items in my distracted state:

  • Two boxes of Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • One giant box of Crispix
  • Two packages of Keebler PB’nJ Sandwich Crackers
  • Two boxes of Nature Valley Granola Thins
  • One box of Quaker Vanilla Yogurt Granola Bars
  • One giant loaf of Sara Lee Honey Wheat bread
  • One loaf of Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Swirl Bread
  • One package of Herr’s Cheese on Cheese Sandwich crackers
  • One box of Wheat Thins
  • One box of CHEEZ-ITs
  • Four jars of applesauce
  • One tub of generic peanut butter
  • Five gallons of water
  • One bag of apples
  • 14 bananas
  • One package of paper plates
  • Two gigantic bags of Halloween candy for good measure

 

As I carted the sacks into the house, I realized how unhealthy most of these provisions were. But tough times call for relaxed standards. Maybe we’ll even emerge from this natural disaster a few pounds heavier, instead of lighter.

 

And I’m actually starting to feel sort of proud of our efforts, especially since, after putting our 2-year-old down for a nap, my husband, twins and I collected all the loose balls, bats, bicycles and goalposts from our property and stashed them in the garage. I’m also finding it quite gratifying, as I sit here typing, to see my husband up on a ladder, raking leaves out of our clogged gutters with a plastic kid’s shovel. Our children are dashing about the leaf-filled but now toy-emptied yard – perhaps for the last time for a week.

 

Furthermore, I think my husband and I have reached a tacit understanding that we are going to do absolutely nothing about the basement. We’re running out of time and getting a bit fatigued, and we were due for a serious purge, anyway. If I really cared about any of that stuff, it wouldn’t have been in the basement in the first place. Now I’m fantasizing about carting away the drenched contents of our cellar to the dump – and never, ever, ever seeing any of that junk again.

 

With a little luck, the worst that will happen is that we'll eat our way through two, huge bags of Halloween candy. I'll let you know what happens.

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