ELDER MUSIC: 1962
GAY AND GRAY: One Vision for Gay Elder Care

Elders and Hurricane Irene

First an earthquake and then a hurricane. I fully expect the east coast to be hit with swarms of locusts next week followed by a plague of frogs.

It was impressive in the run-up to Hurricane Irene how hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas of many cities worked to evacuate patients. This description of the process at Coney Island Hospital doesn't begin to cover all the necessary details:

”The parade of 15 newborns, two children and 248 adults in various states of distress started early Friday. Sixteen were on ventilators. They lined up in the hospital's foyer one by one and were loaded into a line of awaiting hospital and for-hire ambulances.

“The retreat lasted until 7:43 p.m., with some doctors and nurses for critical and specialty-care patients joining them at their new hospitals.”

Think of it: finding hospitals on higher ground with enough space, arranging for medical records to accompany patients along with medications, those ventilators, drip bags and all manner of other equipment needed to keep patients stable and alive.

It was amazing how well the evacuations were organized as were those of many assisted living and nursing homes in the eastern coastal states. And I saw one television news report about a young man boarding up windows for his elder neighbors; another about volunteers sandbagging elders' homes.

If Hurricane Irene were not so terrible for literally millions of people, the wall-to-wall news coverage over the weekend would have been a relief from daily drumbeat of awful political news we live with these days. But to keep Hurricane Irene from being a completely loathsome-free disaster, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor leapt into the breach.

The tea party favorite, who represents Virginia where several people were killed in the hurricane and the governor declared a state of emergency, proved the underlying meanness of the Republicans in general and the tea party in particular.

Even before the hurricane hit land, Cantor reiterated his requirement first voiced after the earthquake that any federal disaster relief funds be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget:

"When there's a disaster there's an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies," Cantor said during a news conference in Mineral, Va. "But we've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government's role in a situation like this."

Oh, so if elders are rescued in a natural disaster, their Social Security will be cut, is that it?

As Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond responded: "It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere...in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens.”

If the good citizens of Virginia don't unseat Cantor in next year's election, they deserve him. Unfortunately, if they don't, the rest of us are stuck with him too.

For the 40-odd years I lived in New York City and Maine, I felt fortunate that we did not experience extreme weather as much of the rest of the country does – only a blizzard every decade or so and they are more fun than dangerous.

At the risk of provoking kanahara (Yiddish for curse or jinx), I feel equally sanquine about the weather in northwest Oregon where I live now. Beyond the potential for an earthquake, it mostly just rains a lot although not enough for much flooding.

But many TimeGoesBy readers live on the east coast from Florida to Maine. So tell us your hurricane stories in the comments below (if you have power and an internet connection). How did you fare? Did you evacuate? How did you prepare? Is everyone okay?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ralph Lymburner: Dancing with the Stars (Senior Version)


Comments

We were very fortunate in the midwest & on Lake Erie. Our weather has been very good. However, a long time ago I participated in evacuating a 250 bed hospital after the electrical board blew up in an engineer's face!:( Luckily there were only minor injuries to maintanence folks & things proceeded like clockwork. Plans for such an emergency were in place (mostly developed by the nursing dept.:))& everyone knew their role. There were a fair number of patients who could be discharged to families & only about 8-9 vent patients. Generally, Americans respond to emergencies, generous with time & spirit & I'm thankful for that. Mother Nature was so kind to diminish Irene's ravages. Dee

Ummm, we had locusts a couple of weeks ago. We are on the lookout for frogs though.

It was fun seeing you use the term, kinehora (Yiddish: evil eye), to ward off wickedness;-)

Irene moved fairly slowly so there was good time for preparations. Now media are saying that leaders were overly cautious, but it was ever thus. If you prepare for the worst and it doesn't happen, or you don't prepare for the worst and it does happen, you're bound to be criticized. Thankfully less mortality and injury than there could have been.

The hurricane itself didn't cause much wind damage in our area but we were swamped with water.

On Saturday evening and into the night they were constantly warning us of tornado sightings. I have had these watches before but these were very specific to our very neighborhood. They were all but pinpointing our house.

They kept updating the time it would reach us.We were all ready with pillows and blankets,flashlights and water. We stayed in our family room because if we had gone to our basement before hand we would not have had access to the Weather Channel and our local news media.We needed both for information.

Thank Heavens, we never lost power so we were able to keep up with the storm via television.'

At 11:00 P.M. they declared the tornado emergency over and we relaxed a little but the rain was still lashing at our windows but the wind had died down.

The worst was over for us and the storm moved North into New York and Connecticut.

I often mention our little cottage in my stories. That was the hardest hit. We now have 5' of water inside the little house but luckily we were prepared for that and had gone there the day before and had taken everything we could out of there and put the rest up as high as we could.

Now we have to go there today and wash out the mud and pick up the debris the flood water brings down the stream.

As Gilda Radner was fond of saying: "It's always something."

Here in Northern MI yesterday the weather was perfectly benign with sunshine all day.

In spite of that, all at once the power went out and stayed out for about an hour.

Storm or no storm, that which we depend upon might fail us at any time.

I guess I'd better get my disaster kit ready. (Sigh)

Ohio missed anything resembling a disaster -- unless you count the continued presence of John Kasich in the Governor's Mansion and a bunch of us are working to remedy that, too!

Here in Central Jersey there weren't any major problems that we haven't had before whenever there is a lot of rain. The locals know what roads to avoid. The usual places flooded...except for our cellar.

Unfortunately overnight Saturday into Sunday our sump-pump somehow got plugged with mud and stopped working...while we were fast asleep. We ended up with a few inches of water and are waiting to hear from our insurance company.

Over the last 20+ years we never bothered to remove the wall-to-wall carpeting that the previous owner had glued to the cement basement floor...This may be the perfect time to take care of that project.

Also, we are finally going through those boxes that moved with us in 1989 and are still down there.

This week's trip down the shore has been postponed for a week or two.

My friend and I had plans to see a Broadway show in NYC on Sunday. We then thought we should see if we could change the tickets for a Saturday performance. Thankfully, Mayor Bloomberg decided for us by shutting everything down. We will be receiving a full refund for the cost. As you know, the tickets are not cheap and I don’t get to go as often as I would like.
We lost power at our house for about 18 hours. I was not surprised, because it’s happened many times before. What did surprise me however was the loss of both cell and land phone service. It was both eerie and a break not to know what was going on with the storm (better to know).
I totally missed feeling the earthquake although everyone else in the building felt it as well as my husband at home who said the entire house seemed to sway.

I live on the midcoast of Maine and the storm did damage every where but here..storm turned west and we had high winds and rain. We've had Big Bertha(my nick name )for a generator that runs the entire house. We're fortunate that Bertha keeps all systems running. I've always had "survival foods" etc. in case roads are not passable. Car is gassed up, cell phones charged, friends notified of what we're doing. Living in the northeast my entire life , between wicked winters and other storms, we're prepared. One learns how to survive; no time to be a sissy :-))

The day before Irene was going to hit New England I made a post "Getting Ready for Irene."

I had my flashlight, candles, radio, phone and food in the house, even some gin.

The one thing I was most concerned about was losing power. Fortunately that didn't happen.

From my windows I could see the trees whipping in the severe winds. Not one got blown down.

To get away from the news on the TV I got on the computer and answered a request from a fellow that wanted to interview me for his blog.

One question was about my use of "twitter" which I don't use much.

Thought about it and decided to tweet about "Irene." It only took a few minutes and I got two tweets.

One was from a computer repair man that I used when I was in Florida two years ago!

That made my day even though it was a stormy one!!

Lots of rain, lots of wind and just 6 or so hours with no power. Internet was gone until today.
Other areas in NH have more damage but up here in the Lakes Region, it wasn't so bad.
And now I'm going to go find Millie on Twitter who made me laugh when she posted on her blog, that the line for the liquor store was too long but she had gin at home so she didn't stand in line. Yay, Millie!

As you may know having lived in NYC for so long [as did I until two years ago], immediately after 8/11 all hospitals in the city formulated disaster action plans. Apparently those plans worked efficiently this past week. That should be comforting to all New Yorkers and something to emulate by every other cities. As we've seen, earthquakes can happen all over the country, tornadoes give no warning but some plan should be in effect.

Here on Cape Cod we had winds and outages but almost no rain. A plan was in place and well carried out with crews working immediately to tend to fallen trees and restore electricity. I even received two recorded informational phone calls from the local police chief with guidelines and information.

The sad lessons of 8/11 and Katrina have been taken to heart at least by some governments.

Sorry -- of course I meant to type 9/11.

Well, there was the Columbus Day storm and the Mt. St. Helens eruption, not to mention the "extratropical cyclones" that can bring very high winds and rain. The last one, in 2007, had gusts over 135 mph, knocked down the largest Sitka spruce outside of Alaska, along highway 26, and did a lot of other damage, not all of which has been repaired yet.

Here in So Cal I was waiting to hear how my midwest and east coast family was faring. The quake wasn't felt in the Great Lakes household, but a different story in VA. Calif.-raised dtr was cool with it as she sat in her van at a stop sign. My teenage granddtr, alone, inexperienced with quakes was truly frightened.

I was relieved, as were they, that their power remained operative, trees vertical with the rain and winds in their area not as severe as other storms they've experienced. They're concerned now about a friend's Outer Bank's beach house where they've been treated to getaways.

I hear distressing news now about the Vermont and New Hampshire countryside which I recall with great pleasure visiting years ago.

too bad Irene didn't happen in a foreign land, we would have helped non-americans, no qualms and no questions asked.
Someone should tell Cantor that charity should begin at home.

Yes, first the earthquake. It was quite frightening--first a small tremor, then pause, then the tremor started again and got stronger, lasting a good 30-45 seconds. Enough to get me and all my co-workers running like mad down our steps and out the door of our 6 story office building. Of course, now we know that was the WORST thing we could have done for an earthquake, but working in DC, we had no idea what it was. Sadly, most of us thought it was an attack of some sort.

Now the hurricane. I was prepared with boombox, Coleman battery powered lantern, flashlights, headlamp (great for reading at night), and all the batteries and extras needed. Did laundry, ran to the ATM to get cash, filled up my car.

Rain started late morning on Saturday. Winds started picking up around 6:00 pm. Still had power until 1:15 am on Sunday. Then, stayed awake trying to see all the trees being whipped around by 50-60 mph winds. Heard a couple loud explosions with great flashes of light. Slept for a couple of hours, then woke up and walked up the street to see a huge tree had fallen and taken two utility poles with it. Almost every street in my neighborhood had large trees down, along with power lines and poles. (If you are going to live in an area with a lot of old large tree cover, you gotta take the bad with the good sometimes.)

Miraculously, the power folks were already working on our street when I walked up around 7:00 am and even more of a miracle is that we got our power back around 3:00 pm yesterday. Still don't have cable tv though :-(

Irene provided enough time for us LI east-coasters to prepare, but it still was a harrowing experience. When I shut off the tv, 85 mph winds were approaching and living on a hill, surrounded by towering oak trees,I didn't sleep much, losing power right after midnight. So I did without power, internet and more exasperating pronouncements from the politicians. Perhaps the federal government should start with cutbacks to funds going to Virginia, then Cantor could really accomplish something. I hate his mean spirited, arrogant attitude. Deep six him!

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