Relief is the predominant sentiment in our neighborhood, now that Sandy has passed up the coast. Here in Maryland on the outskirts of the District of Columbia, the neighborhood was bracing for the worst. We've had a long string of extended power outages, including one brought on by the derecho during the summer. It's the derecho that may have been our saving grace with Sandy, the neighborhood concurs, since it knocked down all the weak limbs for miles around, leaving nothing for Sandy to claim.
While we are used to outages and the standard preparations, Hurricane Sandy brought on slightly different challenges for my family. When the threat became imminent, my husband and I were in Boston at our son's college parent weekend. One daughter was staying with friends and expected to return to our house before we did, the other experiencing her first time alone for the weekend at home.
Lesson One: Trust Mom's Intuition
My "mom's intuition" told me not to gamble on our Sunday evening flight. It hadn't been canceled as of early Sunday, and my husband preferred to risk it. Booked on the last flight out, we tried to switch to an earlier flight and came upon the expected news that every flight out of Logan was overbooked. I knew we couldn't trust Sandy the Frankenstorm and insisted we grab two of the few Amtrak seats left.
It was a wise decision to take the cautious approach. A few hours into our train ride, our would-be flight canceled. As we rumbled through Connecticut approaching the New York border, Amtrak announced its upcoming cancellation of all trains north of New York City. We had enough time to pass through with an hour to spare.
Lesson Two: Plan for Communication Outages
As soon as we began thinking about changing our plans, I contacted folks back home to make tentative emergency arrangements for my two kids there. If we got our tickets, we wouldn't need those plans, but it was important to make contingency plans while we had working internet and phone lines. There was also the smaller risk we'd get on a train and not be able to complete our journey.
Communications was a concern in another way; what if neither we nor our kids had telephone or text access to the friend who agreed to take them in if need be? Our advance plan called for her to automatically pick them up if she couldn't reach them.
Relying on intuition and planning for communications outages gave me the peace of mind I needed as my husband and I - ironically- headed into the storm.