Surprise Hurricane

I’ve seen the videos of hurricanes, with the wind and the rain. This weekend one came to me: hurricane Hilary. Around here on the west coast, I’m used to earthquakes and traffic jams. But a HURRICANE? That’s for other people, other places.

Not anymore.

I had to prepare for it. We took stock of the ground around us. I picked up the loose things that the wind might pick up. The things that would be hurt by the rain I took inside.

In my award-winning essay Alaskan Road Rules, I talk about my upbringing and how the streets I come from are gravel and often covered it snow. That’s my context.

Snow and cold sometimes meant it was hard to leave the house. But it was hard to drive in snow at any time, so I just had to be ready.

One of the things about California civilization that took a LOOOOOONG time to get used to was the abundance of food and supplies at every turn. There are people ready to sell me food and all kinds of things

Around here people fell they can drive out in perfect confidence regarding where they are going to get their food. It’s more a matter of what kind of food they are in the mood for.

Planning and thinking ahead get skipped over.

This Saturday, I watched videos of cars in fast food drive throughs with rain water flowing half as high as the tires. This is what people left home for. Cheap fast food.

Other videos showed water rushing like a river through the streets. In the desert they call it a flash flood.  Disaster appears in a deadly flash. One moment, things are as they’ve always been, and suddenly everything is in danger.

I have to be ready to respond quickly when the danger first appears. Civilization is a very thin veneer on the wildness of nature. Complacency has a cost.