Hurricane Irene and being prepared

By Seth Saunders

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 9:00 a.m. MDT

The brand new swing set of one of our neighbors was blown into a fence in Virginia Beach, Va.

Seth Saunders

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — When we made the decision to move from Chicago to Virginia Beach, Va., we knew that we were making a trade of nasty snowstorms to beautiful beaches. The other thing we had an idea about was that there was the potential of tropical storms and hurricanes. Well, we lived through the nor’easter last year, which was bad, and this year was our time to experience a hurricane.

After living through Hurricane Irene, which I know was not as bad as predicted for the most part, I have a newfound respect for Mother Nature. I also have a very firm testimony that being prepared is more than just a nice Boy Scout motto.

My family and I made every effort possible to be prepared for this hurricane. A big reason for our major preparation was that we have seen in the short time we have lived here that there are many who do not prepare. For whatever reason, they feel that preparation is not important and that they will just figure out things when they need to. The problem is that many to those same people make the news for all the wrong reasons.

Although this hurricane was not as bad as many predicted, the reality is that there were a few lives lost for a variety of reasons, quite a bit of damage done by falling trees and flooding. As we drove around to see what was happening and what did happen, it was amazing to see some of the destruction that the wind and rain from the hurricane did.

It was interesting to see how one tree could be completely uprooted while the trees around it looked like nothing happened to them. The amount of water in many places was simply amazing, and it just seemed to continue to increase with the storm surges and continual rain.

Leading up to the hurricane, there was quite a bit of pre-game action. The rain hit us early, and the wind made its presence known. We were glued to the TV, watching every report we could to know what we should be watching for. Our boys just could not believe that this was all that was being talked about on every channel here locally.

We needed to venture out a couple of times just prior to the actual heart of the hurricane hitting us to unload an 18-wheeler full of emergency supplies from the church. This was a wonderful opportunity to see how well prepared the church was as the truck was only ordered at 9 p.m. Friday by two of the local church stake presidents and arrived Saturday at noon. As we returned home, we could really see that flooding was going to be an issue. We had to drive slowly in some areas as the water was up to the bottom of our car door.

Then we just waited, but something interesting happened. We were all calm. The reason we felt so calm was that we felt prepared. We had our generator ready, our water, battery radio (which we did have to use), nonperishable food items, flashlights, a spot in the house to hide should we need it and prayer.

As we watched the news on TV and all the updates, there was one point that they said, "Officials have stated that if you have not evacuated at this time, it is too late, please just stay within your location until the hurricane has passed." My wife and I looked at each other and then said to the boys, well, we decided to stay here so that we could help others if needed, we have prepared, and we will be okay.

It is hard to describe exactly what it is like to literally sit and wait for a hurricane to arrive, but that is what we did for most of the day Saturday. The anticipation can drive you a little crazy. We passed the time by reading, playing games and taking mini walks outside to see what was happening.

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