DC: Natural Disaster Edition. Irene vs. Iris.

29 Aug

As morbid as it sounds, I love a weather forecast that empties grocery shelves. DC is at its finest when people are slightly panicked. Historically, this has only happened when snow is on the way, but this weekend’s threat of Irene yielded similar results.

This was during the blizzard. Awesome.

Having been gone for two weeks, I stopped in the grocery store Thursday night to restock, not realizing that the city was functioning at “Code Orange.”

Lines snaked from the cash registers back to the dairy section. Entire shelves were emptied; some items – milk, eggs, toilet paper, water – were consistent with blizzard shopping. But apparently when there’s a hurricane, people want to make SALADS. And eat CEREAL. Hmmm.

Ironically, there were still umbrellas for sale. And hurricane drink mix. Am I the only person who thought those would be the two must have items? Standing there, I wondered if I’d heard the radio wrong. Was Irene a hurricane, or a missile? Was I shopping for the wrong catastrophe? Just to cover bases, I picked up a DuraFlame firelog. (Not Pine Mountain. I’ve learned my lesson.)

The next night (Friday) my friend Liz sent a text. She had been in New Jersey for a reunion and they evacuated the town, so she was driving to DC to seek refuge since there was no way she’d be able to get back to Atlanta. (Bonus visit!)

A group of us met her for lunch on Saturday in Georgetown. Outside, rain was coming down in sheets. Anyone eavesdropping on our table would’ve heard the following quotes:

  • Why couldn’t this happen on a week day when we might get sent home from work?
  • The only thing I did to prepare was buy wine. Have I under-estimated this?
  • Part of me hopes it gets really crazy.
  • Hurricanes aren’t as fun as blizzards. No snowballs.
  • Do you think people in New Orleans had this conversation before Katrina?
  • Wait… Did everyone at this table get a pedicure this morning except me?

As it turns out, all the hype was for naught. Yes, it rained a lot. And it blew sideways — enough so that I awoke to puddles on my window sills Sunday morning. But within the District we kept power and damage was minimal. (Unfortunately, friends in the suburbs and in other cities along the east coast weren’t so lucky.)

I guess people were probably on especially high alert because Irene came on the heels of a pretty impressive earthquake (for the East Coast). I was in Sydney for the quake, but most of my DC friends said their first thought was that a bomb had gone off. (Gotta love living in the Capital. When something odd happens, we just assume bombs are going off.)

Clearly there's an earthquake coming.

I got a kick out of the National Zoo’s press release after the quake. It gives a run down of the animal’s responses. A few of my favorites:

  • “The red ruffed lemurs sounded an alarm call about 15 minutes before the quake…”
    • Remind me to buy one of these. Seems like it’d be good at predicting migraines so I can take the medicine before one starts.
  • “The beavers stopped eating, stood on their hind legs and looked around, then got into the water…”
    • Once in the water, their tails tapped out morse code, repeatedly spelling, “WTF?”
  • “The Zoo has a flock of 64 flamingos. Just before the quake, the birds rushed about and grouped themselves together. They remained huddled during the quake.”
    • Strength in numbers?
  • “Iris (an orangutan) began “belch vocalizing.”
    • I asked my sister if this was like when she used to impress me by burping the alphabet. She agreed it was similar, but speculated that Iris was probably starting to spell, “H-O-L-Y…” 
  • The howler monkeys sounded an alarm call just after the earthquake.”
    • Way to go, howler monkeys. Day late and a dollar short.  

To be fair, I suppose the people who clear out the grocery shelves in advance of disaster are a bit like the red ruffed lemurs. And those of us who got pedicures before brunch while the rain was coming down in sheets are more in the Howler Monkey camp.

Next time I’ll just have to remember to call my sister, to see if she can burp 9-1-1 into the phone for me.

5 Responses to “DC: Natural Disaster Edition. Irene vs. Iris.”

  1. thesinglecell August 29, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Actual FB post from a friend/co-worker: “My wife loves me. She remembered to stock the beer fridge before the hurricane.”
    Me: “You have a beer fridge?”
    Him: “You don’t?”
    Me: “I have a wine rack. No refrigeration required. There. I prepared.”
    I win, no?
    Glad you survived the storm, albeit without salad or cereal.

    • pithypants August 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Thank you. Exactly why wine is better than beer. I might pull this out to trump any further arguments.

      • Dan Bain August 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

        But what about Rieslings???

        Good post, btw.

      • pithypants August 31, 2011 at 4:27 am #

        Thanks! And is this your way of admitting you wiped out all the rieslings at the bottle shop?

      • Dan Bain August 31, 2011 at 5:46 am #

        Only a couple. But if we’d lost power (we were fortunate not to), those wouldn’t have been better than beer — I’d sooner eat raw chicken than drink a warm Riesling. To really be prepared, one needs a bottle of Merlot and maybe a six-pack of porter. 🙂

        Thanks for subscribing, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: