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Fast and Furious: Are you ready for Sandy?

This is a quick and dirty post, pulling up several of what I think are the most useful of my prior posts of being ready for weather related emergencies. For readers living between about North Carolina and Maine, I think you need to think seriously about what will hit late in the weekend up through Tuesday according to the National Weather Service (or whatever weather provider you trust).

If nothing else, I think we can all count on losing the power.

So here are my best thoughts on getting prepared. If nothing else, you’ll get a good laugh with the video. Stay safe, my friends.

No power – cook with your grill
Are you ready

Good Morning, Irene

Sunday, 7:30 a.m.:
71 degrees F, 75% humidity, winds, 6 mph with gusts in the 10 mph range, foggy, raining hard and steadily, Barometric Pressure 28.20.
When I went to sleep last night, it had not started raining yet but it’s obviously been raining for most of the midnight-7:00 period because we have a pretty well-developed stream in the driveway. Now, we get that when we have a really hard sustained rain here, so this, so far is not a huge disaster but we are just starting in, in terms of our exposure to Irene’s effects. Later, it will get worse. The DH went up to do chores and everyone is a little annoyed at being inside (the turkeys are basically outdoors all the time in their yard and only come in to roost or get food and water), but and ounce of prevention and all that. We debated getting them in last night and now I’m glad we did because chasing them around to get them inside in wind and rain would be absolutely no fun. Looking at the radar, basically the entire state of New York except for perhaps Buffalo is completely engulfed in the storm which is yellow. No red. We’ll see how fast this storm moves now.

9:00 a.m., 71 Degrees F, 76% humidity, winds: 5-10 mph with gusts WNW, Barometric pressure 28.14. Raining hard. Lost power at 8:30. Wanted a second bucket of water for flushing…just in case. Ran around the outside of the house to find… one of the downspouts did not have an extension on it to take the water away from the foundation (not a good thing in general but good for the purpose of putting a bucket underneath it), so I put a five gallon bucket under it, which filled to the top in less than 5 minutes. Now, a downspout extension will go on the hardware store list NOW.

9:30 a.m, 71 degrees F., 75% humidity, winds 5-10 mph with gusts WNW, Barometric pressure 28.11. The DH and our son out in the garage finally able to get the generator to work. The choke needed adjustment. Lesson learned: Having a generator in a box ‘just in case’ is great until you have to use it and don’t know how to make the thing run. Note to self: Next time we have this sort of warning, let’s all not only clean things up, tie things down and get the animals inside, but also do the drill on systems such as a generator.
Regular utility power came on at 9:35. Lucky us.

10:00 a.m., 70 degrees F, 76% humidity, winds 13 mph with gusts WNW, Barometric pressure 28.11.

One of the things I’ve been keeping myself busy with this weekend is making some winter fleece clothes for my grandson. Our house is a lot cooler than his house and he spends a lot of time here with us, so I need to make sure we have plenty of snuggly clothing for him here, especially because he will be starting to walk this winter. I already finished a black set with a sailboat on it. Our son came up with this ‘Buck Rogers’ space ship design for an applique. I put this on by hand, with a buttonhole stitch, which worked out really well, considering we lost the power and I wouldn’t have been able to finish the front if I had been depending on my sewing machine. The zigzag power lines at the bottom are done with doubled up sewing thread, in a chain stitch.
7:30 p.m., 67 degrees F, 71% humidity, winds out of the SW at 2.9 mph, Barometric pressure: 28.50. Little bits of rain still around. We were lucky here; others in the county and nearby were not so lucky. Lots of flash flooding of the ‘usual suspects’ in terms of streams. Police were evacuating some roads in rural areas. About 50 miles from us, in the Catskill Mountains, a little village, Margaretville, was completely flooded and Governor Cuomo went down there. The water was up to the fenders in his SUV. Margaretville is in a valley which drains from the Hudson, Delaware and Susquehanna rivers so they have had more than their share of massive floods over the years. Everyone will have a big job cleaning up in the coming week. For the moment, though, we’re done here.


For anyone out there who is still thinking that anyone off the Atlantic shoreline does not have to worry about the current, ahem, weather situation (we can all start singing “Good Night Irene” now), I’ll be posting about the effects here at Chez Siberia over the next 48-72 hours. We are located on the PA border, about 200 miles in a straight line to the nearest hunk of beach in New Jersey. With the current storm diameter of approximately 500 miles (and it’s a bit more disorganized at the moment, now that it’s made landfall in North Carolina), that means that real ‘storm stuff’ (that’s a technical term) should be reaching us by the time Irene hits the Maryland shore. Actually, I just looked at the radar and this sort of outlying band of stuff on Irene’s northwest side is already into northern Pennsylvania and into southeastern New York, which is probably why it’s cloudy here as well.

So. Here we go. One of the things that people forget is that you don’t have to have the eye of the hurricane go over you to get effects from a hurricane and actually in many places it’s not the wind – it’s the rain. And rain is not your friend sometimes. We’ve had a very wet August here; the ground is saturated, which makes it very easy, given any wind at all, for trees to come down on power lines and knock out the electricity. Losing the electric at Chez Siberia is really, really bad.

First: We are in the country, that means that everything here runs on electric power. The pump for the water (which means no water for drinking, washing or cooking and no water to fill up the toilets after they get flushed). All the appliances. If it were the winter, we’d be looking at no heat from the furnace either because a) the ignition of the system to burn the fuel oil is and electric spark and b) the furnace is forced hot air which requires a fan which requires…electricity to run.

Second: The house at Chez Siberia is at the bottom of a slope, which produces a lot of hydostatic pressure underneath the house. A couple of inches of rain and we are looking at 18″ of water in the back basement — except for the fact that we had a huge sump dug back there and the biggest honkin’ pump made installed with pipes going up and out to the ditch at the road. This pump literally runs almost all year round. Which is why if we lose the power, we end up with 18″ of water. Now, don’t ask me why we chose to put the freezers down there – a far better choice would have been out in the garage. Eighteen inches of water (even if you have freezers and fridges off the floor) can knock out the motor and compressor – trust me, we know this and have had to replace a freezer more than once. Once we had so much water down there that it lifted a completely full freezer off the floor and floated it across the basement. Hello? So, this time, the DH went out early this week and got a generator which will be set up between today and tomorrow so that WHEN we lose the power (because we will lose the power; that is almost a guarantee), we can rotate it among the pump and the two freezers (like, two hours run the pump; then an hour on the freezers) to keep the water off the floor and keep the freezers cold.

So. If you look at the picture above, what you see is….nothing. That’s right. Nothing. We took down the awnings from the deck and put those away. We moved all the potted plants into the greenhouse except for those two huge ones that are tucked into a little nook formed by a bay window and the front door. They will be safe there. I think.

So, what did WE do to prepare?
Bought water and batteries
Charged everything up
Filled up the cars with gas
Got a generator and a gas can full of gas
Cleaned off the deck and anything outside the house that could fly was locked down or put in the garage.
I defrosted stew beef last night and this morning set up the crockpot with the meat, broth, carrots, onions and celery. Why? Because I have power NOW, so I need to do things that I need power for NOW. If I needed to do laundry, I’d be doing that right now, too.
I’ve got a five gallon plastic pail that I’m filling with water to use to flush the toilets (remember? no power, no pump, no water for the toilets).
We have six gallons of water in milk jugs put aside for drinking.
I’ve got my meds all set.
We’ve located any paperwork (we won’t need to evacuate, but it’s always good to know where the passport, birth certificates, insurance papers, and so on ARE, just in case you need them).
We harvested what was harvestable out of the garden.

What have we NOT done, that we need to do? Well, we have chickens and turkeys outside and as soon as the wind starts to pick up, we will be hustling those guys into the shed with food and water for the duration.

From a weather standpoint, here is what things look like this morning (we have a weather station up on the hill – how long that will last under any sort of sustained high winds is another question):
7:00 a.m., 66 degrees F, 73% humidity, winds: 0, Foggy, barometric pressure: 28.73
9:30 a.m., 69 degrees F, 70% humidity, winds: 1.6 mph from the SW, Foggy, barometric pressure: 28.73

I’ll keep updating over the next two days.
Everyone out there – stay safe.

UPDATE ONE Saturday, 12:15.
73 degrees F, 72% humidity,winds: 1.6 mph from the NW, Cloudy but bright, barometric pressure: 28.73.
Things here are pretty quiet. We are waiting. My neighbor, Mr. Optimistic, is out on his lawn tractor, cutting away. The DH and our son have gone to the movies. I’m sewing – because I still can. A winter fleece outfit for our grandson. Big change from when I made clothing for my kids 30 years ago — this is in black and red. Very smart looking and rather grown up except for the red sailboard on the black top. Before I’m done, he’ll have a matching (only with a space ship on the front) red outfit and a couple of shirts, but if we lose the power, all bets are off. Thank goodness he won’t need these for another couple of months. Question: Did we over-prepare?

For the ‘belt-and-suspenders’ crowd, you can never, ever over-prepare.
UPDATE TWO: Saturday, 7 p.m.
The radar is showing bands of rain (the red and yellow stuff for the wewather radar aficionados) at the edge of Irene crossing over our area at the PA/NY border in central Upstate New York. Although we are ‘scheduled’ for rain at 9 p.m., given what we are seeing in terms of cloud cover and so on, I suspect the rain here will start before then. The DH and our son went out to do chores and also to bring in the turkeys. Even without the ‘help’ of the effects of a hurricane, turkeys are great flyers and will take off given half a chance. Not tonight, kids. Not tonight. The prediction for rain tonight is in the 2″ range, with winds picking up overnight into the 25 mph range. Tomorrow will be worse.
78 degrees F, 66% humidity, winds: 5.4 mph SW, Heavy Clouds, barometric pressure, 28.64

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