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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath (Hurricane Irene)

Warning:  This might end up being a really long blog entry as I feel like I'm working through many mixed feelings.

Like the entire east coast of the US, I just experienced hurricane Irene - the warnings leading up to the storm, the advance preparation, the storm itself and the 'aftermath.'    I can't go in to work today as our phones are out and we're teleworking.  And I'm finding myself having a strong delayed reaction to the past several days.

To help organize my thoughts, I'm going to break them into 3 sections:

  • The Storm
  • The Background
  • The Aftermath

The Storm

Hurricane Irene rolling in Friday night at mi casa
I spent a lot of time before the storm hit researching about it.  I googled and found the Maryland emergency management site.  I watched the Weather Channel 24/7.  All reports showed that the storm of our lifetime was coming.  Maryland Emergency Management stated that everyone east of Frederick, MD should put plywood on their windows, and do all the other preparations.

I am a single mom with my nearest relatives several states away.  That makes me solely responsible for the welfare of me and my son, as well as my home.

Yes, I taped the windows.
I own a 1947 house with a roof that already leaks.  Ironically I had an appointment Saturday as Irene was rolling in to get a price on a new roof.  I have several large trees around the house.  I bought 14 gallons of water.  I had dry ice and block ice in the cooler anticipating the widespread power outages. I bought plenty of non perishable foods as well as fruits/veggies that are 'ready to eat.'  I made sure the propane tanks were turned off.  I bought rope and tied down the grill and patio furniture.  I taped all the windows.  I made sure we both had showers Saturday afternoon and then filled the tub with water in case it would be needed for flushing.  I made sure all the laundry was caught up.  I went to several stores in order to get D batteries (as they were sold out almost everywhere.)  I got an extra charge pack for charging a cell phone if the electricity went out.  I made sure all our electronics were charged.  And that candles and a lighter were nearby and easily accessible.  I had sleeping bags and a "go bag" ready in case a tree fell through the roof and we had to go quickly.

I don't remember everything  I did, but I spent two solid days getting ready.  I went to bed Saturday night, exhausted, knowing two things:  (1) The brunt of the storm was about to hit overnight and (2) I had done everything humanly possible - the outcome was out of my hands.

Two houses down from me.  That's gonna leave a mark.
The storm came and went.  My roof did not leak.  A big branch the size of a tree fell in my yard (no harm done at all).  There were big trees nearby that did fall (one on a poor guy's van).  Of course, there's widespread power outages in the area but our house was fine. Yesterday (Sunday) I spent the day cleaning up the yard and undoing a lot of the earlier prep (taking down the tape, etc.)


The Background

Many of you don't know me, or didn't know me over the past few years. You didn't see where I started, what it took to get me to this point in my life.  I left a volatile, emotionally and verbally abusive marriage as a crushed human being in early 2005. I got a protective order in early 2006 as he continued to escalate despite the separation, and the divorce became final in May 2006.  During that time, the thought of simply going grocery shopping, coming home, putting the groceries away....that whole process....was at times overwhelming.  There were times when I'd have to break a task like cleaning the kitchen down into tiny baby steps in order to not feel overwhelmed and paralyzed.  Major clinical depression, a little post-traumatic stress and a whole lot of responsibility sometimes knocked me to my knees for days even weeks at a time.  Little things like just doing dishes or taking down the Christmas tree could derail me emotionally (really.)

Over the years, I have used the "baby steps" approach to tackling almost everything in my life - my career, my finances, my parenting, my housekeeping, my smoking, and my weight.  One little topic at a time I have been becoming stronger, more competent, more able to roll with life's punches and keep moving forward.

So when the whole hurricane warning thing came up, I was thankfully in a position to be able to deal with it alone without it overwhelming me or knocking me over,  I had the financial resources to buy what I needed.  I had the personal time available to take a day off and work on the preparations.  My house was already pretty clean/organized, so all my focus was on safety things.  My body and mind switched into "high alert" and I just did all that needed to be done (in my opinion....others felt I may have gone overboard on my preparations, but I would rather be prepared and not need it than the other way around) like "Rabbit" from Winnie the Pooh "Must keep the schedule, must keep working."

So Friday and Saturday was non-stop preparation. Sunday was assessing the aftermath, cleaning up the yard, and realizing we'd dodged quite a bullet here, followed by watching what was happening as the storm approached my friends and family from New Jersey to Maine.  (One cousin in Mass. had a tree fall on her house and electric wires on her car, my elderly parents were and still are without power in Maine and I was worried all night that they could get flooded, etc.)

The Aftermath

Today, I have been hit with overwhelming emotions from it all.  Maybe part of it is that the adrenaline that kept me going stopped being necessary and has drained away.  Maybe the intensity of watching The Weather Channel and following (with great stress) what was happening to my friends and relatives as the storm went up the coast has dissipated.   Maybe it's my overwhelming sense of isolation and "aloneness" in times like these that's hitting me.  Or just pure relief?  Or some combination of all of the above (most likely.)

Regardless, I have been out of control eating today. One minute I'm sad or angry about nothing in particular.  The unseen enemy?  Or frustrated to no reason - or alternately....feeling empty, too.  It's just a strange combination of ups and downs and it's ticking me off.

I have gotten into ridiculous amounts of carbs which no doubt are making me feel much worse.  I also have thought about going out and buying cigarettes!  Of course, I'm NOT going to do that (I'm on day 666 of my quit!).  But the thoughts did cross my mind.  It gets to me that when my emotions soar like this it's ME I feel like subconsiously destroying.  What's up with that?

Anyway, I'm fine.  I normally don't share days like today.  The thought of strangers reading this doesn't bother me at all.  I feel like I'm just showing the reality of my inner life.  The thought of my own mom reading this, or friends/relatives/coworkers makes me feel vulnerable and like putting put a big notice:  Please do NOT call me and ask if I'm okay or I'll scream!  

I don't ordinarily share ANYTHING when I'm in the midst of it.  I'm WAY more comfortable fixing it, getting over it, dealing with it, etc. and THEN talking about it in the past tense,  It's just how I roll.


I'm human.  Life isn't always easy.  No matter how positive and rah rah I get, sometimes life can just be hard and there are times that require a lot from us, and though we rise to the challenges, sometimes, we need a soft landing afterwards.  I don't really have that soft landing (I'm still here, still responsible, still have to figure out how to get the tree outta my back yard, still have to be the breadwinner etc.) and I want a soft landing dammit.  So I'm landing in soft carbs.

I need to have a better plan.  Like landing on a soft treadmill.  Which I haven't been on in 2 months. blog topic?  


  1. Excellent blog, Carly! :)

  2. Glad you and your son and your home are all okay! I was definately thinking of you last week. We weren't able to talk to our son in DC for a few hours (no open phone lines) but knew pretty quickly that he was okay. Once in a while carbs... umm okay, once in a while cigarettes??? NEVER! You are one tough/protective momma bear =)


  3. You have also taught yourself another thing. During a crisis, You are very strong. You handled the whole situation. By yourself. You proved that you can take care of andrew and you during a dangerous hurricane. With all the planning and follow through you did. All is well now. So now is the time to step back, and realize those feelings you couldnt let out before. You had to hold them back, to be reaady for the storm, and now you know the worst is over, its ok to let them bust loose. I would think....perfectly natural. Yaou did a wonderful job prepping for the storm. You should pat youself on the back. And get your buttocks on that treadmill! Rhonda


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