Saturday, 27 August 2011

Special Open Thread - Irene

In 1987, southern England was not prepared for a storm that devastated a large area.

In the early hours of 16 October 1987, winds reaching 122mph ripped across the south-eastern corner of England, taking the sleeping nation by surprise.

As dawn broke, 18 people had lost their lives and 15 million trees had been uprooted.

We were awaken by a terrifying crashing noise. All the ridge tiles from our roof had landed on our car!

I had a driving lesson on that day (in a different car, off course) and I learned to do 3-point turns very well. There were fallen trees all over the place and we couldn't get very far before finding roads completely blocked.

It's easy to remember that event with some humour so many years on, especially as the forecaster in question decided to deny that he ever reassured the public that there was no hurricane, but it was very frightening and distressing at the time. That afternoon I came across a car completely flattened by a large tree and later found out that the passenger had lost his life. He was an old actor who lived in Brinsworth House, a nursing home for people in the entertainment industry. His wife was dropping him back at the home when the tree fell. Incredibly enough, she survived.

These days, thanks to sophisticated new technology, the weather can be predicted much more accurately than in 1987 and people can take precautions.

I hope Irene loses her oomph and that people on the East Coast will stay safe and won't suffer too much damage from this storm. You are better prepared to deal with it as the authorities, from the President to mayors to specialized agencies, are working on keeping people safe.

WayOfPeace reposted some tips he found on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

Hurricane tips from a reader in New Orleans:

1. If you leave, put all of the food in your freezer and fridge into
“contractor” garbage bags. If you lose power, you can throw it out
when you get back and save yourself from the stench of having to clean
out the fridge, and it can also ruin your fridge. If you don’t lose
power, you can just pull it out of the bags and all is normal.

2. If you have an answering machine and a land line, make sure it is on
so you can check to see if you have power or not while out of town.

3. If you stay, make your own ice by freezing full water bottles. Keep
them in an ice chest so they can keep other items cold. Save your
cubes for your cocktails. When power goes out, ice is like gold.
After the ice melts, you have more drinking water in case the water
systems is knocked out.

4. Also, place as much as you can in your freezer.
It will help the freezer stay colder, longer. You will
be eating the food in it in the days that follow. Place things that
you go to often in your ice chest. Try to open the doors to the fridge
as little as possible. Your fridge will keep things cold for about two

5. And lastly, if you are going to leave, leave now and
take the mandatory vacation. Go far if you can. Don’t go 90 miles away
so that you lose power in your hotel room with sealed windows.