When Irene gets to town

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seems as if we’ve had a lot on our plates lately.

First it was “super fog,” caused by the smoke from the largest fire in recorded history in the Great Dismal Swamp. Paltry rainfall during August barely slowed the fire’s advance, and more than 400 firefighters have toiled for weeks to flood the swamp and prepare the area so that the next major rainfall would have an appreciable effect.

As we see in our current forecast, we should be careful what we wish for. Hurricane Irene seems to refine her aim at the area with every passing hour, and she’s loaded with plenty of rain and wind, to boot. Meteorologists are calling for an Isabel-type event, which could be more than anyone had bargained for when they were wishing for rain to put out the swamp fire just a week ago.

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Of course, in between the fire and the rain, there was a whole lotta shakin’ as Virginia experienced its second-strongest earthquake in recorded history. Our area was blessedly free of injury or major damage from this unusual event, but — if you’ll pardon the pun — the earthquake really seemed to shake folks up. And that’s not entirely a bad thing, as in the aftermath of the temblor many people seem to have awakened to the reality of the hurricane that’s bearing down on Hampton Roads.

The potential destructive power of the fire, the earthquake and the hurricane tie these events together. Though there was no advance warning of the earthquake, the same cannot be said for the hurricane. Folks have had plenty of opportunity to get ready. And there’s still time to do so.

When Isabel blew through Hampton Roads in 2003, some communities were without power for two weeks or more. Do you have a plan for how you’ll live if we have a repeat of that situation? You should. Do you have a plan in place for a mandatory evacuation? You should.

If you need advice on what to do to be ready, check out readyvirginia.gov. Spend a few minutes making a plan now and a little bit of time getting your home ready today, and you might save yourself a nightmare come Saturday, when Irene gets to town.