Overkill is underrated; be prepared

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I admit I felt a bit ridiculous carrying all of my supplies into my Suffolk hotel on Wednesday. I pulled a cartload of food, gear and other “essentials” into the hotel after the latest updates that almost made this sort of preparation excessive.

I’m in this hotel because I live outside of Suffolk and couldn’t expect to make the drive to cover the storm when the wind and rain picked up. Now I’m ready for the rain and wind to pick up.

I spent my free time in the last 48 hours scrambling the city to get water, rain gear and food. I cleaned off an old pair of water-resistant boots I pulled out of my garage, and by the end of it, the back of my car was packed to the brim.

Email newsletter signup

The forecast was intense when I started gathering supplies earlier this week. Florence was a Category 4 hurricane at that point, with a course set for landfall much closer to the border between North Carolina and Virginia.

Of course, I’m writing this column after learning that Florence has dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3, and that it’s lowered its aim farther down the coastlines of North Carolina and South Carolina. It’s because of that change in the forecast that my stockpile seems a bit aggressive.

Many of the residents I’ve spoken to this week share the same optimism with the latest updates from the National Hurricane Center. Restaurants are prepared to close if the weather gets too bad but are expecting to stay open. Home owners are sticking around to ride out the storm, some of them right inside the recently-evacuated Zone A.

But despite my awkwardness, I’m happy to be prepared. When Gov. Ralph Northam announced at his Wednesday press conference that the evacuation order would remain in effect, he and Dr. Jeff Stern of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management emphasized that we’re not out of the woods yet.

“The storm has drastically changed direction in the last 48 hours,” Stern said at the press conference. “I think it surprised a lot of forecasters around the country. It certainly kept all of our partner agencies vigilant and maintaining the full response posture.”

The point is that residents need to be prepared in case Florence makes another drastic change, or if the storm lingers for days with more and more rainfall. Do not take this storm lightly.