Observations From Hurricane Irene


Last night we experienced the closest thing the state of Maine has had to a hurricane in quite some time. Despite warnings from the meteorologists and other assorted media hysteria-mongers, Hurricane Irene limped into the state as a tropical storm, dropped a fair amount of rain and blew over a few trees. This resulted in some power outages and general inconvenience for everyone, but didn’t really cause a ton of heavy damage here.

Other areas of the East Coast didn’t get off so lightly, but in general Irene didn’t live up to the hype that was built around it. Such is the way of media and sometimes (luckily) the way of storms. Having spent time in the southern U.S., I am a little more aware of what hurricanes can do (and I didn’t even go through a major one when I was down there) than a lot of my northern neighbors tend to be. So in light of different perspectives, it’s been interesting to watch the build up to the storm and how people are reacting.

I’ve learned that “preparedness” is a learned skill and mindset. I grew up in a New England farm family, so I had the “luxury” of lots of early training on preparedness and resourcefulness. These types of events aren’t that big a deal for me, not because they’re not potentially dangerous, but because I know how to react to them. I think this is one of those basic life skills every man should have, but apparently many missed along the way.

Here’s three interesting things I observed over the past week:

1. Most people have no plan. Without a plan, there’s only freakout. The average guy isn’t ready for most garden-variety disasters, whether natural (ice storm, tropical storm, etc) or man-made (civil unrest, power blackouts, etc) that can happen. They simply don’t have any plan for what to do in an emergency situation.

When you don’t have a plan in an emergency situation, then the most likely response is freak out and panic. I got to see a lot of that up here in the few days before the storm. Walmart (where every moron goes for solace, apparently) was laid to waste. There wasn’t a bottle of water, a battery, roll of toilet paper (Really? Are you going to use extra in a storm?), or strawberry poptart to be had. Everyone was making a grab for anything that they thought might be valuable, but often without thinking about its actual use. It’s this type of thinking that gets dangerous quick. People get stressed, can’t get what they think they need, and melt down.

Instead of being one of the herd and having to be thrown into the middle of these situations, which are at best stressful and downright dangerous at the wrong times (ask someone in the Middle East), a little bit of planning and preparedness goes a long way.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just think of the top 5-10 “emergency” situations you’re likely to encounter (ice storm, blizzard, house fire, etc) and develop a plan based on what you’re going to need, where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there, etc. Then communicate this to everyone that matters (wife, kids, etc). We’re talking like an hour of your time here to save you LOTS of confusion and bullshit down the road.

Are you going to be able to plan for everything? Of course not. But just like training, an emergency plan allows you to make small deviations and still end up pretty close to where you need to be. No plan makes you one of the herd and, just like in training, means that it’s going to be a crap shoot as to whether you’re a success.

Stock up on these bitches for the trade value!

*****I’m not kidding about the poptarts, by the way. I saw the same thing down south and never understood it. When it comes time for “emergency shopping”, the go-to item is the strawberry poptart. Not blueberry. Not s’more. Strawberry. We’re talking bare shelves, full carts, and shell-shocked stockboys. I must have missed the memo on the magical shit the good people at Kellogg’s put in their poptarts.*****

2. Even with somewhat of a plan, most people don’t have the basic skills they might need. Some people go through the exercise of creating a plan, which is great. However, they don’t take into account how they’re going to put that plan into action. Trust me, you’re probably not McGyver on a good day, and in a stressful situation you are likely one step out of Gomer Pyle: Learning by the numbers and trying to unfuck yourself.

So if you have some sort of plan, make sure you can easily do everything you need to do and have practiced it. Going to need to clear some fallen trees? Do a little chainsaw practice. Might want to board up your windows? Learn how to use a damn hammer, nails, and a screw-gun. Hopped your ass down to Lowe’s, slung down the MasterCard, and walked out with a shiny, high-powered Honda generator? LEARN HOW TO HOOK THE DAMN THING UP!

3. There’s an overwhelming sense of “someone will take care of me”. This is probably what disturbs me the most about our modern culture. Most people I seem to run into don’t feel like they need to have an emergency plan or learn any skills. Why? Because they have this crazy sense of entitlement that “someone” will come protect them. Whether that “someone” is the government, a neighbor, their parents, or whatever, they’re entirely putting their life and lifestyle into someone else’s hands.


Being a man means that you can take care of yourself AND your family in most situations. If you can’t, then you know damn well how to get them to somewhere safe. That’s your job. It’s not your job to sit around and hope that the government comes in to save you. That job is for pussies, and we already have enough of those in this world.

And not to get too political, but remember: When you put your life in someone else’s hands, you’re giving them freedom to do what they want with it.

Comment below with your thoughts!

Comments on Observations From Hurricane Irene Leave a Comment

August 30, 2011

Dianne Parker @ 12:49 am #

I could not agree with you more, Ike! You are so right, especially when you talk about the sense of entitlement so many people now have instead of a sense of pride and independence of knowing you can take care of you and your family if you just plan ahead a bit.

Isaac @ 4:11 pm #

Mrs. Parker:

Right on! It kills me that people have no sense of how to take care of themselves just to stay alive! Seriously, not everyone has to become Grizzly Adams, and maybe this is the Maine Farm Boy talking, but the one thing everyone is given is a body and the life within it. If you can’t come up with the basics of how to keep that going, then I strongly question whether you deserve to have it!


September 2, 2011

MOM @ 2:08 am #

Good stuff, Isaac! Those POP TARTS are good, too! LOVE < MOM.

Isaac @ 11:54 am #

Ha! Now, when I was a kid you’d have died before letting me eat a Pop Tart! I had to sneak over to Dad’s for junk food!


PS See all? Family secrets never die!

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