Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto Update

It might be of some interest to you if we blog about our responses to the forecast approach of Ernesto.

To begin with, we're paying attention. We approach all such potentially risky events in a similar way. I have WeatherBug installed. It shows in my menu bar as the current temperature in Key West, and has a drop-down menu that allows me fast access to the current weather forecast and radar images. When an alert is issued by the National Weather Service, Emergency Management or other agency, WeatherBug "chirps" then blinks to let us know that there's an update available. The most recent one was issued just after noon.

Second, we have the things we would need if we lose power, water, and sewage, a stock of food that would last a week or more. We have an evacuation plan that includes the possibility of evacuating from the Keys. We don't expect to do that for Ernesto. The one time we did evacuate, in 1999, the storm moved away and didn't strike KW at all. We have a plan that includes several levels of being safe here if the storm does strike. Our own apartment is well-sheltered from the wind by a tall fence surrounding the patio. That's the only part of the apartment with windows, and we have shutters that can go up there. We're above the normal flood zone. The storm surges from Wilma last year didn't get any closer than two blocks from us. We can go up in this house if need be, and there are several areas in the house that could be considered "safe rooms" because of their location and surrounding construction.

Our children and our family worry about us. Some think we ought to evacuate any time there's a threat. To do so might be prudent, but it's expensive to leave, even for a few days. We could flee to the mainland, where we might find a motel or hotel that would take us and Maggie, our dog. The official shelter on the mainland doesn't take pets, nor do the local shelters here on the island. We could even drive the additional miles to the home of our brother and his wife in Melbourne, but who's to say that we might not still be in the storm's path there.

If Ernesto was forecast as a category 3 or higher, our planning would take that into account, and might alter the decision we've made about Ernesto, to stay in place and remain as safe as possible.

So we stay watchful, assess risks almost hourly, and act accordingly. If we're wrong, well at least it was our decisions that put us in harm's way. We've been there before, and probably will be again. Personal readiness and personal responsibility are the right way to face any threat. Or so it seems to us.

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