Personal Responsibility: Irene Prep

I'm a native of eastern North Carolina (Greenville, to be precise), so I've had a little experience with hurricanes.

During grad school I rode out Bertha and Fran during the 1996 season, the latter slicing through hundred-year-old oaks like a scythe and dropping them all around us, including on our apartment building and the building behind us. If you've ever wanted an adrenaline rush, try standing on a third floor balcony during a hurricane for a couple of hours because that seems to be the safest place as trees topple around you.

I was living in Durham when Floyd paid my hometown a visit in 1999. A lot of the places where I spent time during my youth and college years simply no longer exist, and the scars on the land persist to this day. The stories I've heard from friends and relatives -- floating caskets from washed-away cemeteries, boats driving down four-lane highways with ten feet of water under their keels -- remind me of the power of these storms.

Now it looks as if Irene may well be the "next big thing" to visit, and it has the rest of the densely populated eastern seaboard firmly in its sights from North Carolina to the Canadian Maritimes, with the especially troubling possibility of a direct hit on New York.

As a bit of a public service to PJMedia readers who may literally end up in the eye of the storm, here's a little bit of advice from someone who has been there, done that.

Put together an emergency kit like the one cited at This will put you on Janet Napolitano's terror watch list, but it's still far better to be safe than sorry.

Here are some helpful modifications to the list that may not be obvious.

Don't listen when they tell you to get a gallon of water a day per person. Instead, double that. If the power goes and the heat and humidity rise, you'll be glad you did. Also, make sure you factor in food and water for your pets.

While they tell you to get three days of non-perishable food, they neglect to tell you to get three days of food you can eat without needing power to cook it, or else to ensure you have the ability to cook without external power. Canned soup is non-perishable in the short term, but if you don't have a camping stove to cook it on eating will be a less-than-stellar experience.

Get extra extra batteries, especially for those that power handheld gaming systems your kids own. If you end up without power and the cell phones go down, this could save your sanity and keep you from hearing "I'm bored!" repeated over and over again.

Put new batteries in your flashlights the day before expected landfall and test them to make sure they work. After the power goes out it is a bad time to learn that the batteries you have in the light have gone dead, or that the bulb has burned out. You will never regret extra flashlights or LED lanterns.