How we’re handling Hurricane Irene

by CynthiaYockey on September 24, 2011

I’ve spent most of the last few days figuring out how to cope with Hurricane Irene. My biggest concern is that we could lose our electricity because my father and I both have obstructive sleep apnea and use respirators to keep our airways open while we sleep. Dad is 95 and could die. I will be injured — there’s no “might” about it — and lose executive function I’ve worked hard to regain. A power outage that struck at 11 pm this winter when we were snowed in was a heartbreaking setback. So I was very motivated to find a solution in our price range.

My first move was based on an assumption that turned out to be wrong. Motels and hotels do not all have back-up power to run lights in the rooms and elevators during a power outage. I only found one that did. It’s about 20 miles away and out of our price range. It still would not have been totally safe for my father, though, because he is on a low sodium diet. No restaurants serve meals he can eat safely. (We do go out occasionally but he would not get away with a whole day of high-sodium restaurant food without really dire consequences.) The ideal hotel would have back-up power and rooms with full kitchens. I didn’t find one with both.

I also checked out generators but they also were out of our price range. However, a generator will be our next big purchase because we have frequent power outages even on calm, sunny days for no obvious reason. Apparently you can use generators by either running extension cords from them straight to your appliances or by getting an electrician to install something that lets it power selected circuits in your home. The quality of the power they put out also is an issue, according to a review on Amazon. Some of them can fry delicate electronics, which is exactly what I want to run. Apparently the Generac XP line was designed to solve that problem. I now covet the Generac 5604 XP Series XP4000 5,000 Watt 220cc OHV Portable Gas Powered Generator, yea verily, even above an iPhone or iPad2.

Yesterday the county robocalled with an announcement that a nearby high school would be the county’s emergency shelter. I went over this afternoon to check it out. The cot they are providing is too low for my father to be able to stand up from it without assistance. I am an expert in how to provide this assistance, since I did it so often for my late life partner, who was quadriplegic, but I have a lumbar vertebra that’s badly out of place. Helping my father to stand so I could take him to the restroom would be dangerous for me.

So it looks like the safest thing is to stay home and hope that the road to the high school is clear so we can get to it if the power goes out. The winds in our area as the hurricane passes will be in the 25 to 40 mile per hour range. This is enough to knock out power and block the roads with fallen branches and trees, but we might get lucky. (If we do lose power, it is likely to be back on within 24 hours.)

Dear Instapundit, who is celebrating his birthday today, provides a useful round-up of tips on preparing for hurricanes and power outages. Dear Melissa Clouthier has a comprehensive list she has developed from experience. The Anchoress and Michelle Lancaster at Big Government also have handy lists on how to prepare for a hurricane. However, they all assume their readers have the resources to follow their suggestions. If you want to help people who don’t, please donate to the American Red Cross. I love the Red Cross with all my heart. The Red Cross is working with our county to operate the shelter we would use. Donations now help the Red Cross be prepared for the next time they are needed — click here for more info. Or, to donate $10, text “REDCROSS” (without the quotes) to 90999 (I think it’s charged on your cell phone bill).

If you want to follow the track of the hurricane, the best tracker I’ve found is at


I’m still working on a follow-up post about Marcus Bachmann. I was not just calling him bad names out of spite, as some commenters appear to have assumed. I will explain.

Note: This was originally posted on August 27. My web host lost it on Sept. 17, so I am restoring it manually. I could not recover the comments.

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