Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tropical Assault

I am glad this weekend is over.

I am SO glad this weekend is over.

People across the country are (childishly, if I might add) laughing at the response to a barely-Category 1 hurricane here in New York, but, as a person who has never experienced a hurricane, I will freely admit that I was terrified.

We got word around 2:00 PM on Friday that we would have to evacuate our home by 5:00 PM the next day.  While that left us plenty of time to do whatever we had to do to prepare, I could already feel the environment around me getting more and more hysterical.  I was volunteering in the PT Department at the nursing home at that point and was watching as they brought in old and/or sick evacuees from the hospital, whose walls fell within the dreaded NYC Flood "Zone A."  Hospital beds were being wheeled in to elevators and placed where ever there was room for a patient to ride out the storm. It was unnerving.

The scene became too much for me to deal with, so I headed home without finishing my hours.  I was way too strung up.

I definitely overpacked for both myself and my animals, but I wanted to make sure that I had absolutely everything I needed in the event my house was damaged or we needed to stay out of the area for a long time.  

For the pets, I had..
  • 20 cans of food for Layla plus several pounds of dry food
  • Enough cat litter for two or three litter changes, plus the litter box
  • 15+ pounds of kibble for Marge
  • Several bowls and containers for food, water
  • Treats and treat-dispensing toys to keep Marge occupied
  • Marge's giant soft crate, Layla's carrier, plus a spare 36" wire crate
  • Towels, blankets
  • Several leashes and collars including THREE collars with identification information
  • All of Marge's important paperwork, including my NYC Dog License, vaccination information, and ownership documents
  • Photos of both Marge and Layla
  • Medicines/supplements for each of them
.. And God knows what else. 

With most of my packing done Friday night, I made the difficult decision to attend the UKC Obedience trial that I had entered for that Saturday.  I only stayed for the first trial, but decided that since the weather was safe and my packing was complete, that it would be mentally beneficial for me to stop worrying and remove myself from the chaos of the incoming storm.   Marge qualified, despite my extreme stress levels, with a 191, for her UKC Companion Dog (U-CD) title.  More on that another time.

I didn't want to leave the trial - I was finally able to relax a bit while there and didn't want to venture back out in to the world.  The Mayor was taking this storm seriously and therefore I was as well.  I knew the possibility of extreme flooding at my house was possible, depending on the size and strength of the storm when it arrived.

When I got home (approximately 1 PM on Saturday), we prepared my house for the storm.  We adorned the basement windows with several towels and taped plastic garbage bags around the inside of them to prevent water from coming in.  My dad boarded them up from the outside.  We moved all of our valuable items in to closets and away from windows.  We disconnected the computers and moved them  off of the basement floor. My mother hunted down sand bags at one of the stores and placed them in the yard around the house.  We taped up the windows to prevent them from shattering if they did, indeed, crack.  We were essentially preparing my house for a worst-case scenario.  Overkill? Maybe.  But I have truly never experienced a feeling quite like that before.  

By about 4 PM, police were blaring sirens in my neighborhood, telling people to GET OUT.  It was starting to rain at that point.  Long story short, by a bit before 6 PM, we (my mom, sister, Marge, Layla, and me) were at my grandmother's house, which was not in a flood zone, with all of our many things.  My dad, as well as several other neighbors, decided to not heed the evacuation warnings and opted to stay with the house.

New York City was already becoming a ghost town.  Most businesses were already closed at that point Mass transit would slow to a halt by the following morning.  The airports were closing.  Bridges and roads were being closed or used only as evacuation routes.

Without getting in to painstaking detail, it was a long night.  In addition to the hurricane drama, my grandmother found out that her brother on the West Coast passed away, which, of course, upset her greatly.  My mom, sister, and me all opted to (not so comfortably) sleep in the same room.  When the lights started to flicker a bit, I opened up Marge's crate and put her in there so I didn't have to worry about knowing where she was if the power went out.  We wound up staying up practically all night, watching the TV and checking for updates on the track of the storm.  Thankfully, we never lost power.  We did feel like we were going to lose our minds.

Around 5:30 AM, being cooped up started to get to Marge.  I let her out and she went absolutely wild.. jumping up, panting, yipping and whining a bit.  I don't know if that was her way of letting us knew that she felt the storm coming or what.  I decided to brave the elements outside at that hour and took her out to pee, on leash.  I was extremely worried about the dog pottying situation, since they predicted several hours with strong winds and heavy rains.

8:00 AM was T-time.  That's when the tide was at its highest and storm surge would be at its peak.  The TV showed video from all over the city of water creeping up on boardwalks, roads, and parking lots near the shore.  It was extremely unsettling.  We spoke to my dad back at home, and he said that there were no water problems; the surge had not reached my block (which is a half mile from the shore).

Conditions started to improve rapidly from there.  Perhaps it was simply because we could exhale a bit after apparently missing the worst of the storm surges that were predicted, but I was definitely much more relaxed at that point.  Aside from a few bands of rain and some wind, things died down.  We were home by about 3:30 PM.

We did have a lot of damage in the borough.  Downed trees, thousands without power, several streets flooded.  My block, as well as my grandma's, was spared from the worst of it.  Thank goodness.  Thank goodness.

On Saturday night, I thought about moving my car in to this driveway.
On Sunday morning, I was glad I didn't!

All of the packing and preparing may not have been put to as much use as we anticipated, but I am glad that we followed the advice of the authorities and got out of our home. I do NOT regret at all taking a few extra safety measures just in case things got bad.  You should always prepare for the worst scenario, not the best one.  That's what we did, and we were lucky to walk away from Irene without any severe damage.  The same cannot be said for some others in our community, our city, and in the neighboring states.  It wasn't a storm to screw around with.


Stella August 29, 2011 at 12:16 AM  

I don't know anyone who is laughing about the preparations. How different would Katrina have been if people had been as prepared as you folks were, in the time you had.

Glad all is well for you, Sam, and that Marge came through just fine too.

Cheers and hugs,
Jo and Stella

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ August 29, 2011 at 6:52 AM  

No laughing from this end either. Even a level one hurricane is nothing to fool around with. We applaud all the government officials who implemented their plans and all those who heeded the warnings. We hate to even think about how much worse it could have been.

Despite all the anxiety, worrying, and work, you did the right thing and we are so happy that things turned out pretty well.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning and Mom

Chris and Ricky August 29, 2011 at 7:57 AM  

You were so smart to prepare for the worst. So glad to hear you guys are ok and your house too.

Two French Bulldogs August 29, 2011 at 9:38 AM  

Guess it was better to be safe.
Benny & Lily

andrea August 29, 2011 at 9:44 AM  

so glad you safe and ok ... and cograts on the title! That's a day to remember in many ways :)

Sue August 29, 2011 at 11:35 AM  

I've been thru hurricanes and I'm not laughing. Good for you for taking it seriously and doing all the right things for your and Marge and Layla's safety. I'm very glad your home was safe. Now back to real life again.

Tucker The Crestie August 29, 2011 at 1:57 PM  

We've ridden out hurricanes and evacuated from them, so we know how you felt. It's just a part of life when you are a Floridian, and I'm a native. Still, no matter how many you've been through, it's still a bit unnerving, so given that this was your first one, it's no wonder you were scared. Fortunately you did exactly what you were supposed to do, and were well prepared for whatever might have happened. We're just glad that you're all ok! So sorry about your grandmother's brother - our sympathies to your family.

KB August 29, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

I'm glad that you were ready and stayed safe!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart August 30, 2011 at 9:37 AM  

That's so scary. We get low-level hurricane force winds here in the winter, but w/o the rain. Sometimes snow, but not rain.

I'm glad everything turned out OK, especially since your dad chose to stay in the house. Eeek.

Hugs to all of you. Try to relax now.

Jed August 30, 2011 at 1:27 PM  


I’ve enjoyed exploring your site! I too am a dog lover. I’m also a filmmaker at Columbia University in NYC and recently made a short romantic comedy about a guy who thinks his dog can talk. It’s called, "Dear Dog, I Love You", and it stars a very special rescued dog. We plan to use the finished product to raise support for shelters and the rescue process.

Because of your interest in the dog community, I wondered if you might do a post on your blog to your readers about my film. We've already shot the movie, but need some assistance with the post-production and therefore have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds.

This is a special film because it stars the up and coming dog actor Paul Newman. A few short years ago, Paul Newman was found tied and starved in an abandoned garage. He was rescued by Suzanne Fitch of Mid-Atlantic Basset Hound Rescue, where he was matched with his wonderful trainer and caretaker, Karen. Now Paul Newman is one of the smartest and most talented dogs I know.
Please check out the trailer and campaign here:

Because of his amazing story, we think this is a great opportunity to draw attention to the animal rescue community. As mentioned above, once we finish our film, we hope to share it with shelters and the rescue community in hopes that some of the proceeds made from the film can help take care of dogs in need.

Please contact me and let me know if this is something you would do. Thank you for your time!


Kathy Mocharnuk August 30, 2011 at 11:45 PM  

I am so glad you are ok/safe and Marge is safe and the weekend is over-it really sounds scary. You were super smart of course to take the precautiions you did, so much better safe then regretting not doing it when it was too late.

Never Say Never Greyhounds August 31, 2011 at 1:15 PM  

I'm glad you all are safe and sound.

Muttsandaklutz September 2, 2011 at 9:51 PM  

What an incredible amount of work and worry to go through, but I am so totally with you, WAY way WAYYY better to be safe than sorry. Glad you guys are okay and have a nice dry home to return to.

Maggie Mae and Max September 4, 2011 at 1:50 PM  

First of all I am happy that you and yours are safe but so sorry for the loss of your grandmother's brother.
We took the warnings seriously here in upstate NY too. Fortunately our neighborhood and most of Albany County was spared serious damage (Irene was a tropical storm by the time it hit us) but not so for many other counties in surrounding areas. The devastation and destruction left by Irene is unbelievable. You were right to be prepared. :)

Maggie Mae's mom

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