Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Waiting for Hanna

As hours pass, and Hurricane Hanna gets closer, anxiety is growing.
As a “Fran survivor”, believe me, I have learned to be ready. I have made my list, checked it twice, and have made sure that no detail is left out. Emergency supplies are ready, the medical kit is stocked, and financial records are bundled together, insurance documents well visible on top. The laundry is done and bills were sent out, in case we lose power and the mailman refuses to be gone with the wind, although the postal service proudly asserts that they will deliver mail in ANY weather.
Now, it is time to relax and simply wait.
Waiting for this sort of thing is the hardest task, and it reminds me of the days before my children were born. No matter how much time and effort I had put into preparing everything for the upcoming event, there was always the nagging feeling that more could, and should, be done. It was almost as if the kids could refuse to come out, or something horrible would happen, if I overlooked the smallest detail.
Although the doctor had assured me that everything was fine, I think I held my breath until I counted fingers and toes and heard them cry. Waiting for Hanna electrifies and scares us the same way. Although she is no child, and everyone would probably prefer to not hear her cry or breathe at all, she is not a huge storm. As I write, she is only a tropical storm, and even if she is expected to intensify, odds are that she won’t be much stronger than a strong cat 1, or weak cat 2, hurricane. Nothing to joke with, but definitely not a killer storm.
This is one of those situations when the fear of the monster is almost bigger than the monster itself. When we think about hurricanes, the images we conjure are those of much larger weather systems hitting on much more vulnerable areas. Raleigh is not New Orleans; we are not below sea level, and the amount of vegetation, which can slow the winds down, is staggering.
That said, I am not suggesting that we should not be prepared. On the contrary, I think everybody needs to be self-responsible and ready for whatever comes; yet, once the preparations are in place, there is no need to keep glued on the Weather Channel and worry about everything. Ultimately, nobody knows what will happen with certainty. Weather forecasting is simply that…forecasting. It is a good guess based on interpretations of computer models, and it can change on a whim.
Panic is easier to spread than Evening Primrose, and in some ways it unites people. When something gets ready to happen, people come together to talk, exchange tips, and often exaggerate what they have heard. If anyone remembers, after a handful of birds had died of the dreaded avian virus, reports of impending doom popped up like mushrooms. According to one documentary, at least one third of the world population was expected to be infected, with no effective treatment available. As it turned out, few people died of the Avian Flu, and most of those who did were bird handlers.
So, let’s not give in to panic. No matter what, we can’t do much more than getting ready. Freaking out over things that may or may not happen will not make us more resilient.

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