Friday, September 08, 2017

Hurricane Prep: A Sadly Clueless Anecdote

Apparently, there are a lot of people in my neck of the woods who not only don't know there's a good chance we'll get hit by Hurricane Irma (albeit a much weaker version than what Florida is supposed to get), they don't even know it's possible for Atlanta or suburbs thereof to be affected by hurricanes!

I had to get my car's emissions test done today, and the test center nearest to me is in the parking lot of the strip mall holding the Kroger where I usually shop. When I got there, the emissions center was closed, but the man there said it would re-open in 15 minutes, after the operator got back from the bank. So I walked over to Kroger, figuring it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few more granola bars and other non-perishable snack-type foods.

There were a few people in Kroger making what I suspect were storm-prep purchases, including at least three shoppers whose carts were chockful of cases of drinking water. But for every one person buying storm-prep or non-perishable stuff, there were four people buying things like "carts full of frozen dinners" or other things certain to go bad if we do indeed lose power for any significant length of time. (Personally, I haven't bought any frozen or refrigerated food for the past week, ever since Irma got her name and I realized I was in the storm's maybe-possibly zone of possibility; furthermore, I've been making a point of eating as much as I can out of my own freezer or refrigerator. I'm still annoyed by the memory of the $150+ worth of food I had to discard in Connecticut, after the Halloween blizzard of 2011 left me without power for almost a week.)

I bought a few things and then returned to the emissions center, which had a long-ish line by then; I had to wait 20 or 30 minutes for my turn. While the test was going on I made small talk with the operator (who seemed amazed that my 2002-model car was still on the road), and at one point he also expressed surprise over how many people were in line for the emissions test. So I said something like "Yeah, I came by a little earlier but the guy said it was closed until you got back from the bank, so I went to Kroger to pick up a few more hurricane supplies."

"What, you're going to Florida?" he asked in a surprised tone of voice.

"No, but the storm's forecast to hit us here on Monday," I said in an equally surprised tone.

He said that's impossible; hurricanes can't hit us here because we're too far from any beach. I agreed that we don't have to worry about storm surges, but told him we can still get winds and rain bad enough to lose power, and maybe have contaminated tap water too. I also mentioned that when Hurricane Opal hit 20 years ago, parts of Atlanta and its suburbs were without electricity for up to a week.

Judging from the look on his face, I'm about 95 percent sure he thought I was just bullshitting him, or possibly a shill for the Granola Bar, Bottled Water and Canned Food-Industrial Complex (similar to what Rush Limbaugh claimed to believe a few hours before evacuating his own Florida digs). He also did not believe me when I mentioned going through a couple of hurricanes in Connecticut, because, quote, "hurricanes don't go that far north." Which made me incredulous, and I mentioned Superstorm Sandy trashing parts of New Jersey and New York City a few years ago, but -- again, he seemed to think I was full of it. He seriously seemed to believe hurricanes can only ever be a problem for people who live in Florida, or within a mile or two of a southern-state saltwater beach.

For his sake, as well as mine and all my neighbors, I hope he doesn't learn otherwise the hard way, come early next week.

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