Monday, October 29, 2012


UPDATEHere's Hank Phillippi Ryan's 2:30pm update from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Authority: WDHD TV-7

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is already bringing tropical storm conditions to coastal North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Hurricane-force winds are expected to affect the coast from Chintogue, VA to Chatam, MA, with tropical-force gales and rain spreading out across most of the Northeast. Delaware's emptying out, New Jersey's on high alert and the New York subway system is shutting down. And up here in Maine, we're pulling in the boats and getting out the sou'westers.Living on the highest point in our area, I'm not expecting any flooding, but we're prepared for the almost-inevitable power outages: loads of candles and hurricane lamps, fresh batteries in the flashlights, water in jugs and in the tub. (For those of you who have city systems instead of wells, the loss of electricity means the loss of water. Oh, that lonely last flush as the pipes empty out...)

Ross and the kids have spent the weekend raking and bagging leaves, we're stocked up with food - well, honestly, we're always stocked up with food - and even our Smithie called to let us know she was prepared and ready to share her Maine-bred knowledge of storm survival when the power goes out in Northampton.

Over the years, our family has perfected its storm-prep techniques. We've come a long way since the Great Ice Storm of '98. We went for nine long days with no power, then; cooking on the woodstove, taking shivery sponge baths, gravity flushing the toilets. The two children bundled up and slept in one bed to keep warm, and Ross and I alternated rising every three hours at night to keep the fireplaces and stove stoked with wood. After that adventure, no storm can strike fear into my heart again.

How about you, Reds? What are you those of you on the East Coast doing to prep for the Frankenstorm? And what's the worst weather emergency you've lived through?

RHYS BOWEN: I'm currently in Hawaii, about as far from Sandy as possible but I'm sending protective vibes for my Jungle Red sisters on the East Coast. The worst weather event we ever experienced was a flood in Texas. We had 15 inches of rain in 12 hours. The river came out of its banks and joined the rainfall. We watched the water rise, went from house to house helping neighbors put valuables up as high as possible. We were lucky--the water came within half an inch of our slab. All our neighbors flooded and our lights were the only ones in a sea of black water. We sloshed through snake-infested water bringing food to neighbors for several days. Weather events are scary!HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It's Saturday night ,and so peaceful here. Hard to imagine we're about to get battered. I feel as if I should go BUY something. Batteries.

Weather emergency? I'm a reporter..I've been in floods, hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards (so cold I curled up on the front seat of the news van, certain I'd never be warms again), nor'easters..I guess the worst was Hurricane, ah, I forget. I was sent to cover the storm on the Cape, the winds were more than 90 MPH, it was hard to stand up straight to do my stories. The sand, whipped by the wind, stung my face so hard it made me  cry.   There was nothing, nowhere, and my crew and I stayed at a home on the Cape that was a summer had power, but no food. We ate hot dog buns we found in the freezer, defrostd and topped with canned tomato sauce and frozen romano.

: We lose power a couple of times a year due to storms.
My hubby is from the "it's never as bad as they say it's going to be" school and I'm from the "let's batten down the hatches" so between the two of us we prepare a bit and then forget about it. Batteries, flashlights, candles. We never did get around to buying that generator we talked about and we never fill the bathtub One time we kept running down to the pool and bringing back buckets of pool water. (Good reminder Julia since it's October and the pool is closed!)

During last year's Halloween storm a tree limb came crashing through a skylight in the kitchen. Hope that doesn't happen again. But it was romantic making a fire and reading by candlelight - having an excuse to eat ALL of the ice cream. I've been so many places without power that it doesn't bother me too much. The only thing that does bother me is the possibility of breaking glass. My house is more glass than wood so we tend to stay away from the windows and skylights during one of these crazy storms! Stay safe everyone.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: We live in tornado country, and my hubby has been involved with amateur radio for years, so we're always fairly prepared. Although, like Ro, we've never bought that generator we keep talking about... Thankfully, our house has never been hit by a tornado, but we are also prone to ice storms here that can be brutal. Trees and power lines can go down from the weight of the ice, and utility and city crews are not well equipped to deal with the damage. Winter before last we had a storm that kept us iced in for about five days. Fortunately, we had power for most of the time, lots of firewood, and we have a gas stove and oven, so could still cook.

Hoping all of you on the East Coast stay safe in the next few days.  And fill up those bathtubs!

HALLIE EPHRON: I always fill up the bathtubs but I never understand why I'm doing it. Can someone 'splain?

We're supposed to get lots of rain and wind over several days, but we're not supposed to get nearly the impact that Ro and Roberta will have in Connecticut. So Ladies, stay dry and take care!

I'm very bad at preparing. I have candles... somewhere. And batteries. But where is my transistor radio (remember those?) - I have no idea. We did a grocery store run and got some canned food that I hope I never have to eat. Bought a new flashlight that I hope some of my batteries fit. Checked that our downspouts are working and connected. And we'll try to park the cars out on the street to avoid dropping limbs. Hoping for the best...

JULIA: Hallie, I don't know about everyone else, but we use the water in the tub for washing dishes and for gravity flushing. I'd have to be a much, much more thorough housekeeper to have a tub clean enough to drink from.

Or you could fill the bathtub like this...

 JAN BROGAN: No drinking from my tubs, either Julia.  Hallie, you only need to fill your tub if you are on well water. I'm pretty sure you aren't.  I've got my two filling up as we speak.

I also topped off the car, got two new flashlights and batteries, found the candles and secured a promise we can go live with family with foresight to have bought the generators. My husband is determined to drive down and see how crazy the ocean is - even though the chief of police robo call tells us all to stay in our homes.  

JULIA: We'd love to hear your worst storm story, your survival tips, and how things are in your town. We're hoping that all our East Coast Reds reader stay safe and dry!


  1. I am in CT in a Long Island Sound community. Yesterday there was mandatory evacuation for people in the beach neighborhoods. I'm within walking distance but uphill, so we were not affected by the evacuation. There IS a marsh at the back of our condo complex and we will need to keep an eye on it. If necessary, I will stay with a friend who lives a few blocks away. Still do not know about work. I may take a vacation day. The problem for me would be getting home at the end of the day. It's only three miles and I have walked when my car has been in the shop but walking is out of the question today. My drive to work is along the low-lying areas. The buses will not run today.

    In the autumn of 1955 the city where I grew up was hit by a major hurricane. I think my parents said there were two storms, one on top of the other. Flooding in that city was awful and there was loss of life. We lived a couple of miles away from the flooding, fortunately. My school was right in the middle of it, though. I was in first grade. The basement of my school was flooded. The rest rooms and the kindergarten and first grade classrooms were in the basement. School was closed for two weeks while repairs were made. When school reopened,we had double sessions for a couple of weeks, with the first graders going in the afternoon. There was no school for kindergarten temporarily. Later in the school year,there were three consecutive weeks of Saturday classes! I remember kids in school whose homes were flooded. They had to get a series of typhoid shots.

    During Hurricane Gloria I was living a few blocks from where I am now. The wind damage was severe, with lots of trees downed. The power was out for close to two weeks. I went to a relative's home to shower during that period! Last year's storm, Irene, did major damage here and many people are still having their homes repaired. Some have not even been able to move back to their homes. Sandy will probably NOT skip over them this year. Those are the people I worry about;talk about hitting someone who is already down.

  2. I'm off to the Massachusetts Ememgency Management HQ to cover the storm...back here later! Stay safe everyone..xo

  3. I made two loaves of bread and a big chicken stew and set up some candles but never got around to buying batteries. And we have a manual can opener and two fully charged laptops.

    I hope we don't lose power from the high winds later today. In our previous house we had a wood stove and a gas stove in the kitchen. In our present house no wood stove and electric in the kitchen until we remodel. I guess we can always go out and grill in the rain.

    Hope everybody stays safe. We're uphill from the creek so even if it rises, we should be fine.

    Hurricane Gloria - I was at work at about 9 AM when they sent everybody home. Two guys in their thirties looked at each other and said, Let's go windsurfing! And they did, instead of going home and staying safe. Nuts!

  4. We wussed out and decamped for NYC apartment. Here we're on the 35th floor and right now the wind is so bad that I wouldn't be surprised to see Margaret Hamilton come flying by ("on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch!")No mass transit and really weird to see just a few cars on Second Avenue. And of course....I chipped a tooth last night - hopefully my dentist will be in! But other than that not too bad. We have dvds and books and canned chicken soup (I wasn't as industrious as Edith.)

  5. Living in an apartment building is surreal... no usual noise, only the howling wind! And glass shaking behind the blinds... My worst experience was years ago in downtown Norfolk, VA, holding on to a street light pole to keep from blowing away. A cop came by and rescued me - or I'd not be here in a snug room writing to you!! Thelma in Manhattan, waiting for the deluge...

  6. I hope everyone of our JR friends stays safe through this ordeal, and that it just does not get as bad as they think it will. Can't imagine Manhattan with no one moving around!

    When we were remodeling our home in 1999, part of the deal was to take down a massive tree and dig up the roots. The resulting hole in the ground was then used for a stairwell, plus foundation. The night of the day they dug the hole, there was a massive thunderstorm, with 7" of rain in just a couple hours. Luckily, I had the windows open and was still up, because I heard water running someplace. Looked out and was HORRIFIED to see water POURING into the freshly dug hole, which was downhill from the rest of the yard. I woke my husband and the two of us went out and frantically hauled big chunks of the old tree to the lip of the hole to try to stem the water.

    We finally diverted the flow just as the water completely filled the hole, about 20' by 20', and 10' deep, and a scant half inch from coming over the old concrete stairwell wall into the basement. It took a sump pump and a week and a half for the hole to dry out enough that the contractor could continue working.

    The funniest part of this was that we had a firetruck in our driveway, with lightning flashing and thunder crashing, all night long, and our teenaged daughter slept through the whole thing.

    We've had other crazy weather-related events, but I have since organized emergency kits for us both, with two days' worth of drinking water, emergency lamps, warm blankets, and a solar/battery/hand crank radio. You never know.

  7. Well, things have changed almost daily as we watch the forecasts . . . at the moment we are back to Sandy coming ashore at Atlantic City, which is about twenty-five miles south of where we are nestled into our little space of the Garden State’s Pine Barrens.

    Like most who have commented, we have flashlights, candles, battery-powered lanterns and a radio, two tubs filled with water and several gallons of cooking water already in a jug in the kitchen where the gas stove means we will probably be able to heat food and, most importantly, make coffee . . . we also have several cases of bottled water and lots of food [I always cook in anticipation of losing power, so we have things such as already-roasted chickens which you can eat cold and lots of just-baked bread] . . . the cooler is stocked with dry ice . . . we’ve gotten the requisite jar of peanut butter, bought tuna fish, crackers and the like --- we even have some MREs! There’s always a lot of food around here so we are not too likely to starve even if the power is out for the worst-case forecast of seven to ten days or more . . . .

    Car gas tanks are filled, house drain pipes cleared, yard toys, tables, and such stowed, warm blankets pulled out, the cell phone battery and computer batteries charged . . . my Nook is charged so that at least I can read when the power goes out [as it undoubtedly will]. As I write this it is raining steadily and the wind is howling; fortunately, although the bay is not much more than a stone’s throw away, we do not expect to have to deal with flooding as our little piece of land sits about thirty-three feet above sea level . . . .

    I so would not have made a good pioneer . . . already I am mourning the expected loss of the Internet . . . how quickly we get used to the connections to the wider world that it provides. Praying that everyone makes it safely through this storm and its aftermath . . . .

  8. I was in Orlando for my first vacation in 2 years and Sandy was right off the FL coast. It was windy but not much else. Then I called home and was told about Frankenstorm so we had to leave a day early or the drive back would be windy/pouring all up 95. We left at 4pm and got in at 6am to start prepping for the storm. I have four new books, a charged iPod, and two books to finish writing and one to edit.

    Stay safe everyone.

  9. Sending good thoughts to everyone!

    Right now here in Boone we're having snow and the wind is a scary thing.

    The snow predictions are all over the map depending on who you want to listen to - anywhere from an inch to two feet. We're used to a lot of snow and there's plenty of equipment here to handle it. We're used to gale force winds also - but that's not to say we've become immune to the dangers.

    Losing our power is a possibility and the woodstoves come in handy when that happens except then we deal with the high winds causing the smoke to come back down the chimney and into the house. ugh.

    Stay safe!!!!

  10. Stay safe, you all. I'm sending good thoughts for the storm to not be as bad as they predict.

    As a lifelong Californian, I can't report on any terrible storm stories. (Earthquakes? We could talk.) Nor even being terribly affected by our autumn fire season, though my parents have been. That's our danger right now: fire. The Santa Ana winds are blowing and we're looking at 80F days with very low humidity. We all have our own disasters.

    Good luck, everyone!

  11. After the last power failure we did buy the generator and given the forecast I'm glad. I made chicken soup and we have batteries and candles and city water. And I have several books on my ereader. I think we're ready.

    Stay safe everyone.

  12. I'm coming to Edith's house. It's stormy here south of boston but winds are picking up. I'm baking a big noodle pudding, anticipating that if winds pick up later as they're supposed to we may lose power. And I did fill the tub with water.

  13. Here in Kansas City, it's more like Debs has it in Texas. We're right smack in the middle of tornado alley and get them all the time. I've sat out two of them hitting smack on, once in Oklahoma and once in Topeka, KS. Weirdest sight you ever want to see when you're in the eye of the storm.

    We also get blizzards (14-18 inches of snow, anyone?) and the dread ice storms. And terrible flooding since we're on the juncture of two major rivers and many smaller rivers and creeks. Oh, and a bad brushfire just a couple of months ago from the killer drought and winds. Also, people-killing heat waves. This is not a place to come to escape weather! But we don't have hurricanes, thank heavens.

    With all that bad weather, we lose power a lot. One year in the 1980s, we had an ice storm that left the whole city without power for weeks. That one was so bad that I had to decamp with two teenagers and a newborn and a full-blown case of pneumonia to my family three hours away in Topeka for the last two weeks of it.

    My heart goes out to all of you in Frankenstorm's path. Take all precautions and please stay safe!

  14. Praying all of you, and everyone, on the east coast makes it through the storm safe and sound.

    I think I've been fortunate enough to never have to ride out a major storm, even though I live in northern Indiana/Ohio and we get our share of inclement weather - tornados, floods, major snowstorms. I can remember an ice storm back when I was in about the 6th grade where we were out of school for almost two weeks straight because of slick conditions and subzero temperatures, but I don't think our power ever went out.

    The worst bad-weather situation I ever got into happened when I lived in Nashville. I got stuck on I-65 in a snowstorm, that I had thought was no big deal, without being bright enough to use the restroom before I left work. Needless to say, two painful hours later, I got creative.

  15. Julia... The Great Ice Storm of '98... I was there visiting relatives in Bangor! All those hanging swinging electric wires! I was just back for school in Boston, and I'd forgotten what it was like! The first cold day I called upstairs to Scout, "Help! There's funny white stuff on the windshield! I can't get it off!" The family was right. A few years in California disabled my New Englander status. I got it back, though, and I became a champion bucket-brigade gravity flusher once again. Although each holiday season, with the family gatherings, brings embarrassing reminders. Well, you can imagine.

    My worst storm ever was a hurricane when we lived in my great-grandmothers camp in a pine forest north west of Boston. Nothing quite like a hurricane with flying pine trees overhead.

    Hank... oh, you are fabulous in a storm - you know how we miss your reports – but do take care! All of you. Please. xoxo

  16. Here north of Boston near Gloucester, many of us are thinking back to the No Name Storm of 1991 that Sebastian Junger wrote about as The Perfect Storm. The maritime conditions are just as severe this time and we're hoping that all who make they're living from the sea are safely in harbor.

  17. We've gotten a message from Red Lucy: she and her husband are stuck in Rome for the duration. As she says, it's not a bad place to be stranded in, but they're worried about their house, in coastal Connecticut.

    Here in Maine the wind is louder than I can ever remember. It sounds like a train going by overhead. We've been "upgraded:" instead of the 30-40 mph sustained winds we were promised, we're now told to expect 50-70 mph winds tonight.

    Good thing Ross has cooked up a big pot of chili we can keep warm on the wood stove!

  18. Julia--and everyone in the path of this storm--hunker down and stay safe. Bless that sweet Ross and his chili!

    Praying for all of you to make it through this safely.

  19. Rhys, I was relieved to read that you were in Hawaii. Then I read that yesterday's 7.7 magnitude quake off the Canadian coast created a tsunami detected in Hawaii. It hasn't been reported on the news here, though, so maybe it's exaggerated? Oh, everybody – stay safe, please.

    Bathtub water? Really? What do you do with it? If you have a wood stove you could boil it before drinking? I haven't shared bathwater years. I don't think I want to return to it. Survival. That's important. So I guess you drink anything sensibly safe.

    We bought a Red Cross backpack with four days of food and water in little packets for four adults (two adults = youngest son). Kendall has his own backpack with food and water. I have no idea where we would go with all of this food and water. We can barely make it out the front door down the ramp on a good day.