Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy even comes to Wisconsin


Waves crashing near Milwaukee Boat Club
I got my son, Omar, and grandson, Landon, out early yesterday before school to try and catch the sunrise over Lake Michigan.  We packed up the car with a bag of pancakes, drinks, and the Monster Mash CD and drove the 10 minutes it takes to get to the beach area of the Milwaukee lakefront by 7:25 a.m. (forecasted sunrise)

The weather report said we might get waves as high as 14 feet, while Chicago could have waves 25 feet high.  It's always fun to chase a storm...well, at least when you know you're really in no danger.  I have to admit that I've watched some of the weather reports over the past few days and can't believe the cameramen and reporters are standing in knee deep water and still reporting!  Crazy!  Most of the big flooding and rain is happening way over on the east coast, and our hearts go out to all who are suffering.  It sounds like it may take awhile to get back to normal and clean up the mess.

Unfortunately it was too cloudy to get much sun here in Milwaukee, but the color of the sky and water were an eery shade of blue.  The waves were crashing against the seawall near the boat club, and for once, I saw that they had closed the gate to the pier.  I'm glad about that, because the last time I was here looking at wave action, it was open and the waves were spilling over the sides and people were dangerously close to being swept away.  It's crazy what people will do.  We watched the waves crash for awhile and then headed over to Discovery World Pier that is closer to the breaker and lighthouse.
Here you could really tell how strong the current was.  The waves were as tall as the lighthouse as they broke against the sea wall!  This was a very powerful storm.  The wind was gusting and at one point I had to pick up Omar and carry him because he said his 70 pound frame couldn't move!  Landon was in the stroller and it was difficult to keep him upright.  We only stayed a few minutes and then hurried off to school.  Fun morning adventure.
There have been some storm photos going viral.  Maybe you've seen the soldiers standing at the tomb of the unknown soldier, or the statue of liberty with a cyclone and huge waves.  Neither are from this storm and in the age of photo shop, you really don't know what to believe.  There have been thousands of instagram photos taken during the storm and they made a special website so you can browse them at instacane.  You have to remember these are not reviewed or edited by the website, so basically anything goes.  There could be some photos that are not for younger viewers.  Instagram users put a hashtag #sandy or #frankenstorm and post them and they end up there.  It's a great way to get a larger view of the damage and what people are doing socially.  I liked one photo of a shark in a front yard in New Jersey- I mean for the photo value.  It can't be pleasant for the shark or for the people in that neighborhood.
When I lived at Eglin AFB many years ago, we survived Hurricane Opal.  It was a terrible storm that left homes in the bay, boats in the streets, and animals displaced.  We drove to Mississippi to weather out the storm, but because the evacuation route is only one street, and thousands of cars were on it, it took 12 hours to get there.  At that time, we took hurricanes and safety plans very seriously.  It was easy to grab a box of stuff I deemed irreplaceable (photo albums, birth certificates, insurance paperwork, etc.).  Since then, the internet and cell phones have come along changing the way we do things.  Now you can store all your photos at websites like shutterfly or flickr.  Even if you have photo books made from websites, they often keep duplicates indefinitely.  There are lots of suggestions for your emergency plan and emergency kit on line if you google them.  Now it's almost a necessity to have a solar charger for your cell phone, and that's something we still don't have.  Even during this storm, we've worried about our east coast relatives who lost power.  When the power was out, they could use the cell phone until it ran out of power.  A solar charger could help with that, provided there was some sunshine.  Then of course there are working flashlights with extra batteries, radio powered by batteries or solar generator, water supply, food, etc.  We need to work on some of this again.  It's not as likely we'd be in the path of a natural disaster, but many homes flooded here in our village just a couple of years ago, and it helps to have an idea for what to do.
My husband got a call last night to go to the east coast to volunteer.  He said it's so uncoordinated.  How do they choose engineers?  And what kind of plan could they possibly have at this point before the storm was even done?  He's taking a wait and see approach for now.  Hope everyone reading this stays safe.

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