XXIII. Good Night! Irene!

This week someone picked too many disasters out of the disaster basket here on the Eastern Seaboard. In choosing your own disaster, you’re supposed to choose only one.

Tuesday, August 23, we had Earthquake Virginia; and Saturday and Sunday Hurricane Irene promises to pummel the East Coast from the Bahamas right up into the Delaware Bay (we live 15 minutes west of the bay), up Delaware and across the bay to Cape May, New Jersey. She will potentially wipe out every boardwalk, pizza place, Ferris wheel and bathing beach along the coast of that state, and wreak havoc in states beyond – way inland. Our local Philadelphia Fox channel superb meteorologist, John Bolaris, said Irene is so big her tropical storm force winds can reach 250 miles inland. Here this August we’ve had the most rain ever recorded, over 13 inches – as much as we’d get when I lived in Los Angeles in two years. Rain was a major event there. Driving on oil-slicked roads after a year of no cleansing rains was like driving on ice. Drivers didn’t manage very well in rain there. Thunderstorms rarely occurred and when they did everyone raced outside to watch the lightning.

The heavy rain storm we had here all day today is moving out to sea where it will be picked up by Hurricane Irene and hurled back at us. Meanwhile a high-pressure trough, as I understand it, to our west will remain in place when Irene arrives, thereby sucking Irene into the trough and preventing her from drifting out to sea. Nice. Sounds like a premise for a new Stephen King novel.

Here in Delaware, not only is our ground saturated already, but also Irene could drop up to a foot more rain on us and bring us coastal sea and bay water surges of five feet or more. Stores sold out early of water and water wings. I’m glad I stocked up on batteries recently. I’m going to see if my old boom box that takes batteries will take a size I have and will work; it’s the only battery powered radio I will have.

Emma is as snug and secure as she can be in her hospital bed in the back of the living room, away from a window. There’s no way I could get her down into the cellar in her present condition. Jetta, our teacup poodle will be with her, as always, on Emma’s bed. This is the first hurricane Emma will not be aware of. She weathered Hurricane Andrew alone in her new villa in Naples, Florida. Watched the palm fronds stand straight out, like flags. Later, when I was staying with her, we evacuated to Orlando in the face of another hurricane. The hurricane amounted to nothing. But we enjoyed a nice drive up the center of the state through citrus groves, past Lake Okeechobee and through Ocala and horse country, through a beautiful part of the sparse remains of the old Florida.

I have heard Angelenos are yawning over our earthquake this week. Nevertheless, it takes a former Angeleno to recognize the onset of a quake. “Are you jiggling your feet?” I asked my two visitors from the organization overseeing the fiscal aspects of our state 30-hour a week Attendant Care Services program. They were sitting with me at my dining room table. “No-o-o,” they said. “We’re having an earthquake,” I announced, then, as our 118-year-old wood house with the balloon construction swayed and creaked and the crystal chandelier jiggled and then swung. Earthquakes being rare and mild here in Delaware, this one would rock slightly and subside, I thought. But it gained intensity and lasted long enough to set my adrenaline rushing (rare at my age). Still, I’d say the intensity here was about a 3.something, not enough to knock pictures off walls or knock anything over. We were fortunate. We did rush to make sure Emma was OK, though, in her bed. She was fine, impassive. Jetta, on the other hand (or paw), had been barking all morning. She settled down after the quake.

She took up barking again today—on the alert, like she’s expecting something. And when I took her out for a walk, she dragged until we turned homeward, and then it was like she was expecting a phone call (she doesn’t carry a cell phone.)

Our hurricane is supposed to start here Saturday night. I probably won’t get much sleep. Meteorologists predict sustained winds of 75 mph for us and gusts up to 100 mph for six hours. Great. I’ll let you know how that works out for us.

I hope.

–Samantha, August 25, 2011