Take cover: Hurricane Irene is whipping a warpath in this direction

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

That’s my new motto, especially now that Hurricane Irene is churning toward the East Coast.

When every weather pro on TV is urging caution, as they did Tuesday complete with ominous-looking graphics encompassing the Carolinas, I tend to listen.

“Close your garage doors,” warned one local forecaster.

Before or after we skedaddle west?

And every year the debate ensues: Is it finally time to invest in a generator, hand-cranked radio or portable television before they’re all sold out at all the local hurricane-preparedness stores? (Most people I know just deplete the bread and battery aisles.)

For nearly three decades, my storm readiness kit has consisted of a battery-powered Coleman fluorescent lantern holding its own on the top shelf of the hall closet.

In the kitchen, I have cleverly stocked a few cans of beans in the pantry, plus half a gallon of distilled water in a plastic jug (I just checked).

Instead of the previous one, I now have two carriers for precisely four cats, who have a tendency to balk when it’s time for vet visits or evacuation. They don’t give a hoot about feline health, hurricane preparedness or what Al Roker is predicting on “The Today Show.” And if I were to somehow herd the kitties into their carriers, the next challenge would be figuring out a pet-friendly place to take them. Maybe my mom’s in Tennessee?

The rest of the preparation I pretty much play by ear.

Because when you’re in the newspaper and media reporting business, your bosses have a tendency to have you get involved in the action. They’re funny like that. While others flee, we stay—to report on the approaching storm, the descending storm and the aftermath when the storm itself finally flees.

I have ridden out hurricanes in a sleeping bag on floors of school auditoriums, where shelter volunteers helped while away the time for weary evacuees by doling out food and organizing karaoke and other onstage entertainment. One year during a hurricane in the 1990s (sorry, I can’t remember which one; they all run together after so many years), a photographer and I camped out for a while at the old Calabash Seafood House, where the Thomas family welcomed us with plenty of nonperishable food and generator-powered lights until it was time for us to venture out again as the storm slackened.

Hurricanes can definitely be adventurous, but I prefer the alternative—that they blow out to sea and avoid the mainland. They, like my cats, don’t really care what I think.

To aid in planning ahead for this latest approaching storm, I checked with Irene Simmons of Calabash to find out how fierce a storm she thinks one named after her can be.

“Start planning your escape route,” she responded. “You better take cover.”


Maybe I’ll invest in a few more cans of beans.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.