Greta’s short answer to whether she would want to live where hurricanes are part of life: No, thanks.
The day Hurricane Sandy blew into our lives, it brought winds that seemed to drive now from the north, now from the west. And rain. Plenty of rain. The cold would come later.
Well, we had been out in rain and wind before. Dogs need their walks. So, on the first full day of the storm, I put Greta in the car and took her over to the park, our usual walking area. We had the place completely to ourselves. No walkers, no joggers, no maintenance workers, no fishermen, no dog walkers. Greta looked for her pack friends, but there was nothing and no one but she and I, two windswept dots in the pelting storm. The wind drove rain into Greta’s face and ruffled her ears.
Greta tried. She put her nose to the ground to check for wildlife, lifted her head to sniff the wind. No luck. Even the usually over-abundant deer had gone to cover. By the time we plodded back to the car after about 40 minutes, Greta’s head and tail were down. Her coat was wet. So was mine.
The local newspaper provided information on shelters that would accept pets and what we were required to bring, in case we had to evacuate. Although we live on high ground, I read it anyway. Dog food for three days. Check. Water for pets. Check. Dog’s medical records. Check. Crate large enough to hold dog. Ummm.
“Well, Greta, we can’t evacuate,” I said. “I don’t have a crate large enough for you.”
I had read earlier about people trekking in vain from store to store to try to buy generators and batteries. If everyone else was panicking, I thought I should get into the spirit and panic at least a little bit. I wouldn’t even think about buying a generator, because I have no idea how to turn the thing on, and I don’t need another mechanical device I can’t operate. I didn’t own a battery powered radio, so why not go forth while there was still sunshine and equip myself for the hurricane of the century?
Lesson # 1: Never call Target Stores to ask whether they carry battery powered radios. Yes, the store operator assured me, Target has battery powered radios, in stock and located near the flashlights.
Having trekked to Target believing that this would be a simple errand, I found the shelf where a few lone flashlights still hung. But no radios. It wasn’t that people had raided the radios before the storm. The guys on the floor near the few not-yet-sold flashlights assured me that the local Target doesn’t carry battery powered radios. Ever. Not even when there’s an impending combination of hurricane moving in on us from the southeast, cold Arctic air moving in from the north and a winter storm from the west.
Lesson #2: if you know Radio Shack carries an item and you insist firmly that it should be in the inventory, a clerk may agree to look. The local Radio Shack doesn’t carry battery powered radios, but my sister had told me she bought battery powered headphones there with built-in radios. The clerk was dubious. I insisted. Finally, she disappeared and returned with a box containing battery powered headphones with a built-in radio.
Greta and I were prepared. At 764 feet above sea level with no streams nearby, it seemed unlikely we would be flooded out. If we were, I couldn’t qualify to evacuate because we lacked an appropriate crate, but I could listen for the evacuation order over my new radio headphones.
The gray day wore into gray evening. We had to go out for Greta’s evening walk. She put her head and tail down and plodded around a loop of our subdivision. I shortened our route, but it didn’t help much. Greta was drenched and I had a cold, wet collar where water blew in under the hood of my jacket. We went indoors.
Neither of us got much sleep that night. I lay awake listening for falling limbs—or worse, the scarlet oak that towers above the house crashing into the bedroom—as the wind drove rain wildly against soaked trees, grass, the house. Greta stayed awake to bark at the strange sounds.
The only difference between that night and the next morning was that morning was gray rather than black. Greta had had it. She refused to get in the car to go to the park. She did agree to trudge around the subdivision, although she didn’t waste any time getting back into the house. She even stood patiently while I toweled her off.
I knew she was bored, so we played a game of tennis ball catch in the living room. In the early evening, we trekked around the subdivision again. It was still raining, but the wind had lessened a bit. Greta’s head and tail lifted.
That night before we went to bed, I put on my coat and called Greta. We stepped out into silence. It was still raining, but the wind had gone still. An owl had come to the back yard. Greta pricked up her ears and we listened to the owl hoot into the quiet absence of wind.
We went indoors. And slept.
© 2012 by Donna R. Engle