“You’re from Florida? Aren’t hurricanes like your thing?”

While we can now pretty safely say that Hurricane Maria won’t be a threat to us here in North Carolina, about this time last week when I was preparing for both Rosh Hashanah and going down to Florida to surprise my best friend for her bridal shower & bachelorette weekend, my stomach was in knots wondering if the storm would be making a bee-line for us. Looking at the forecasts, it had the potential to be a repeat of Irma where I would be away from the friends and family who were taking the brunt of the storm – this time, I would just be in Florida instead of Japan. How was this happening again???

After I took a few deep breaths, I realized that this was not exactly the same situation I faced in Japan. This time, I could actually do something – namely, prepare. Even if I wouldn’t be in town, I could put together a hurricane kit for the Hubs in case he and Salem had to weather the storm (please excuse the pun).

I began to make a list of things I would need when it occurred to me that I hadn’t put together a hurricane kit in at least a decade, if not more. If I’m being honest, I probably haven’t put one together since I was in high school, so early 2000s. 

Coupled with the above realization, it also dawned on me that I couldn’t be nonchalant about hurricanes anymore.  No more jokes about, “Oh no, the hurricanes are following me to New York!” and having to think about one stray storm every few years. North Carolina has a legitimate, bona fide hurricane season where multiple tropical disturbances of varying magnitudes will pop up from June 1st through November 30th and threaten to make landfall. 

I think this second realization disturbed me more than I expected. One of the main reasons I was eager to leave Florida for law school was hurricanes. I’d had enough of them and didn’t want to worry for 6 months out of every year if my home would still be standing come December 1st. And yet, even though 8 years prior I had been so concerned about hurricanes, this thought didn’t even cross my mind when we were evaluating the pros and cons about moving to the Raleigh area. I think that is what freaked me out the most.

However, I tried to put the minor panic I was having about the potential future decades of hurricane prep aside and focus on this specific hurricane and getting what we needed. Obviously, as a Florida girl, the basics of a hurricane kit are burned into my brain:

– Water (a lot of it)

– Non-perishable food (aka Chef Boyardee)

– Batteries of all sizes

– Flash lights/lamps/glow sticks

– Battery radio/clock

– Paper plates/plastic utensils

I also checked online to see other suggestions, and came up with a number of things that are also beneficial to have that I just didn’t think about because I have been “out of practice” for so long like trash bags, duct tape, matches, a first aid kit, gloves, rain ponchos, a mini fire extinguisher (which is probably good to have in a home regardless), a can opener, and scissors.  

I went to Target armed with my list, and one of the only things I could not find was a battery radio. Out of all the things on my list, I was hoping to not have to ask a sales associate for helping finding this because I think the only people asking for battery radios these days are people preparing for hurricanes, and I didn’t want to have the awkward conversation that I knew would ensue.

Sure enough, “Ohhh, getting a little nervous about the storm, are we?” in a smug tone. *internal eye roll* I explained that I am from Florida originally and just moved down here from New York, so we need to be prepared for hurricanes regardless of if this storm was coming for us.

“You’re from Florida? Aren’t hurricanes like your thing? You have parties, right?” *internal eyeroll continues*

Yes, they are our “thing” and we do have parties, but not when a Category 4 or 5 is barreling toward us. (Seriously, nuance is lost on people these days.) Maria had just been upgraded to a 5 the night before and there was no indication if she would turn or continue to head straight for us. And let me tell you, preparing for a hurricane is stressful, but you want to ratchet up your already-high stress level while preparing for a hurricane? Go to a grocery store or a Target when it has become fairly certain that the hurricane is coming your way. It is insane, and if I can avoid that by looking a little coo-coo shopping for essentials in a nearly empty Target before everything one would need for a hurricane is gone, I’m okay with that.

“Well I’m from the Midwest and we have tornadoes out there. I just can’t understand people getting so worked up over something they can’t even see.” OH. COME. ON.

Anyway, that is the end of my rant. I got my battery radio and was on my way. I have to say, too, when I left, I felt quite a bit of relief. Even if Maria ended up not coming for us, I was comforted by the fact that we now had a tub of essentials for both the rest of this hurricane season and future seasons. 

I will just sign off by saying that while we were lucky here in the Raleigh area, there have been many areas of our country that have not been so fortunate during this highly active hurricane season. If you have some pennies to spare or are looking to make a donation – on the Jewish calendar, we are at a time when people are encouraged to give tzedakah (charity) – please consider helping the communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, or any other area you feel drawn to that have been affected and have had their lives upended by these natural disasters. Every donation helps.  

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