I live on the coast of New Jersey, a few blocks from Barnegat Bay, but in a well protected area behind the barrier islands. Last year, my husband, who was a volunteer fireman in a coastal town for years and spent his working life in public works out on one of those barrier islands, spent two days preparing for Hurricane Irene. Everything came inside the house or got locked in the shed outside. Firewood got stacked nearly and covered with tarps. There were tarps on my windows. I had 5 gallon bottles of water in my garage and plenty of canned food. He had figured out how to cook on top of the wood stove if need be, not that we wouldn’t have collapsed from the heat if we ever tried it. He took it very seriously. He was going to send the rest of us, dogs included, up to higher ground in the woods with a friend. Then he had a heart attack and died, and I don’t really remember how bad Irene was or wasn’t because it was just some noisy rain to us.

So this year, I’m still prepared. Still have the water, still have so many batteries I didn’t care when walmart ran out, still have canned food, the dogs are ready. All I really had to do was what he’d already done last year. We got it all done by yesterday and have just been sitting here waiting since. My office didn’t close, but only emergency vehicles are allowed on the streets here so I couldn’t go, and really, there is nothing so important up there that I would leave my (grown) kids and the puppies down here alone while I went to work. (I confess I brought some work home, but right now, who cares?)

I have never been this scared in my life. I’m sitting here in my little house, outside the mandatory evacuation zone, with the wind howling, hoping I keep my roof on. Everything’s plugged in and charging until the power goes. JCP&L, which took a lot of heat last year for delays, has already warned us that power will be out for a week if it goes, so that we’ll all be thrilled with their performance when they get it back to us in only 5 days. I’m not even going to think about living not too far from the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the USA. (OK, I just did.) I’ve got the little box of important papers sitting on the kitchen table just in case. We can’t get out past noon, and I’m not sure where we’d go anyway since the animal friendly shelters are already full.

I’m asking myself why I live here, but the truth is, I’ve never lived any place in my life that isn’t being affected by this storm. I’m getting rain; they’re going to get a couple of feet of snow in the town out in the coal country where my dad grew up.

Stay safe everybody.