Tag Archives: outer banks

After Irene: What happens the Next Time, do we feel Lucky?

Crews working to restore power aboard Camp LeJeune

Irene has left the scene and thankfully for whatever reason, divine intervention or just plain luck Irene lost her groove and didn’t get it back before coming ashore.  There was damage and loss of life but it could have been much worse.  She had weakened and hit New York at low tide had she not weakened and moved fast New Yorkand much of New Englandcould have faced a disaster of epic proportions.  Even still damages are estimated at 7 billion dollars and there were towns which most people in power don’t really give a damn about that were devastated by flooding, storm surge or wind.

In North Carolinawhen I am stationed we took the brunt of the storm.  There was a lot of damage in the communities where she came ashore, the Outer Banks and in low lying inland areas where the building codes are less stringent than on the coast but it could have been much worse.  A big part of the reason is that we have been abnormally dry and so streams and rivers were low and the ground was able to absorb the heavy rain. I have been through worse here and I’m glad that we did not have a repeat of Floyd were the storm was a high category 2 with massive rains inundating a state that had been saturated by two previous hurricanes.

My Island Hermitage is on Emerald Isle and it is better situated than many communities on the Outer Banks.  Despite this I prepared in earnest and thankfully all the damage I had was a bit of wet carpet which happens every time we get a lot of rain.  I’m told that my home inVirginia Beach came through fine although as in every tropical storm or Nor’easter the lakes in my neighborhood overflowed and flooded the streets.  In past tropical storms and Nor’easters we lot power for extended periods of time.   According to my neighbor who was looking after the house there was only a momentary outage.

For us the storm produced some anxiety. As a geographic bachelor and as a part of essential staff at the Naval Hospital I knew that I would be there for the duration. Since Irene was a massive storm I had Judy secure our home and evacuate on Thursday.  We I made the call Irene was expected to hit as a category 3 or strong category 2 storm with both the Island Hermitage and my Old Virginia Home in the crosshairs.  I veer to caution in such situations, it is far better to over prepare and get lucky than to presume upon God or nature depending on your world view.

I rode out Irene in our Naval hospital with our bare bones essential staff, some of their families, patients and families, women in their last weeks of pregnancy and pets of the staff members forced to be on duty.  We did well, my Commanding Officer told the story in this blog post http://navymedicine.navylive.dodlive.mil/archives/501 .  We lost commercial power early on and were on diesel backup generators the duration of the storm.  After the Friday dinner we were reduced to emergency rations which the main courses have an eerie resemblance to MREs and what staff had brought from home.

I ambled about on my gimpy leg the best that I could and had to resort to using my cane to make my rounds as I went about to staff, patients and family members.  Several babies were born on Friday night and Saturday.  It was a good event and thankfully nothing bad occurred.  A lot of people especially those that had never been through a hurricane or had a spouse deployed overseas found it unnerving. But we did our best. We converted the chapel to a TV room for the kids to watch movies since they had little else to do and almost every television were on non-emergency circuits.  We ran an extension cord to an “essential” plug in our section of the building which allowed this to happen and our hospital American Red Cross office supplied us with DVDs as well as coloring books and games for the kids.

As I have written in previous articles the military, particularly the Navy tends to be more of a family than any civilian employer. We are bound together by our shared experiences of deployments, danger and regular moves and family separations.  We pull together in ways that I have never seen in the civilian world.   It is an honor to serve.  I finally left the hospital late this morning since Emerald Isle did not reopen the bridge that links us to the mainland until today.

Since I have come back online I have seen some comments from various critics of Federal disaster assistance or the actions of governors or mayors of states and cities with large numbers of people in the danger zone, about 67 million Americans I think is the number.  The most critical politicians were from the House of Representatives and the biggest mockers when Irene came ashore in a weakened state and did less damage than expected were from the “new” conservative media.  Having been through more hurricanes and major earthquakes than I can count and seen the devastation of these events and the effects on the lives of people I find the comments calloused, mean spirited and simply used this as another way to push a political agenda.

Of course it is easy to be a critic when you have no direct responsibility for the lives of people.  You see those in the executive branch be it at Federal, State of City levels of government  and the agencies are each level are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  If they know of something that that could devastate their communities and the citizens in them and do too much and disaster doesn’t strike, those that hate government say that they are overreacting and an “intrusion of big government.”  If they don’t react it is held up as a failure of government.  As far as Federal assistance after an event those that say that the Federal government should let people sink or swim and states and municipalities fend for themselves even if the disaster is overwhelming the same is true.  They are always critical simply because they want to dismantle the Federal government. Well most are against it until it is their community is affected, the rare exception being Virginia Representative and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor who told people in his own district to take a hike after they were hit by an earthquake that no one ever anticipated or were prepared.

Close to 70 million people were potentially at risk from a potentially historic hurricane that only weakened at the last minute.  The President, the governors of the affect states and the mayors of major cities did what they were supposed to do.  They did not wait until it was too late as was the case in Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina.  For that they are mocked I the press, especially those that are deemed liberal I haven’t heard any criticism of the actions of Republican Governors of Virginia or New Jersey for doing what the Mayor of New York did.

We got lucky this time but some day we won’t be and if the critics have their way the result will be historic in the bad kind of way, think about the Tsunami in Japan kind of bad.  We got lucky and if we think of ourselves as gamblers we need to remember that eventually the law of averages works against us, just ask the people of New Orleans or more recently Joplin Missouri.  God or nature take your pick only gives us so many chances and it takes only one of these things to make a direct hit and wipe untold numbers of people, their communities and even the assets of major corporations and Fortune 500 companies, but then the people that are against Federal assistance to regular people would jump through their asses to help Corporate America, can you imagine what would have happened in Wall Street went under like they did back in 2008 except this time under real water?

Being prepared and taking precautions is always preferable to loss of life on a major scale.  No government or community can be prepared for all contingencies but it is foolish for them not to do so but they are damned if they do and damned if the don’t in the eyes of their critics do not have the same responsibility.

I do hope that we band together to help those most affected by Irene and other recent disasters.  Prayer is nice but action is even nicer. Thank God there are good people that lay it all out for those in need and do it well working with the government and other charitable organizations and individuals. I think a lot about the efforts of the Southern Baptist disaster response teams as well as the Salvation Army disaster relief and those like them that make such a difference.

I’m glad that Irene lost her groove and didn’t get it back, unfortunately lives were lost and millions of people have suffered some kind of loss due to her.

After the Storm

For me it was a long and exhausting event. But it was a great chance for me to have a weekend with some wonderful people, my local Navy and Marine Corps family.  Men and women that give every day and exemplify the best of America.  That makes all the difference.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Me Myself and Hurricane Irene

In my half century of life I have been through major earthquakes and numerous hurricanes and tropical storms, a tornado and a war.  However I cannot remember being more concerned about a natural disaster until now.  Hurricane Irene looks like it is on target to slam into the Island Hermitage as well as my home inVirginia Beach.

Last night I was not very concerned, it looked like the bitch would stay far enough to sea that things would be fine.  Late last night my Judy called me worried and with my computer I looked at the models and told her that things would be fine and the storm would likely stay far enough at sea as not to cause too much damage.  This morning I got up and the first thing that I saw was that the computer models were now zeroing in on the Outer Banks and if the models are correct will also come very near to or actually strike Virginia Beach.  As of now most of the models have the eye of the Irene coming ashore as a Category Three hurricane around Morehead City and Beaufort North Carolina which is about 20 miles to the north of the Island Hermitage. Since Irene is a big mother that is much too close for comfort.

Calm before the Storm

I went out to the beach this evening for the last weekend before the Labor Day holiday the beach and the neighborhood were incredibly quiet, the very real calm before the storm. When I walked out of the Island Hermitage the only noise was that of some kind of noisy insect in the trees above me.  I got to the beach and decided to try to get around without my cane and I did pretty well.  I think from now on I will only use it when the leg is hurting.  It’s been almost a month since I broke the Fibula and the doctors said 4-6 weeks so I will give it a shot.  Anyway I took off my sports sandals and walked out to the surf.  There were a few people on the beach.  I took a number of pictures and I noticed the colors of the sky which were tinged with the reds and oranges of the sun which had just disappeared over the horizon.  The surf was heavier than I have seen since I moved here and the breakers dissipated as they came ashore.  It was all too peaceful.  It is hard to imagine that in less than 48 hours the serenity before me will become a watery inferno with winds gusting over 100 miles an hour.

Pat Robertson has written and spoken about how he prayed away a hurricane when he first established his ministry in Virginia Beach.  Since Pat’s headquarters is in Virginia Beach, along with his Christian Broadcasting Network Studios and Regent University he has a big interest in praying this one away.  So I hope that Pat gets off his ass and uses his special double top secret probation prayer line to Jesus in to get Irene back out to sea.  I don’t even care if he claims credit for it on TV and in his next book.

I called Judy to let her know that she needed to take the dog and execute our evacuation plan.  A neighbor will be watching our house in our absence and let me know if we sustain damage.  My insurance company has already sent me an e-mail assuring us that they are with us; it’s a good thing to be a long time member of USAA. Even so I do not look forward to any kind of storm damage.

I am a safety first kind of person.  I have already let my staff know that they can take leave tomorrow to get out of Dodge if needed.  Since I am essential personnel at the hospital I will be caring for our patients, staff and their family members during the storm.  All the models make this look really bad for this area.

Yes I am praying for all those that live along the East Coast just as I do for others. Unfortunately I have already heard some preachers, Christian ministers, the allegedly “Christian” head of the far right website Worldnetdaily, Joesph Farrah and a Jewish Rabbi announcing with almost smug arrogance that this is God’s judgment on our country.  As always it is the fault of homosexuals and not the fault of the incredibly greed filled financial institutions that have contributed so much to the economic turmoil that has engulfed the world and the preachers that seem to elevate Wall Street above the Gospel.

I’m glad for these people that they are so sure of this, but I’m sure that the Lord probably thinks otherwise, besides Pat Robertson would be in the crosshairs too, but then maybe God is mad at him and the rest of us are the collateral damage.  My word to all of these preachers get off their asses, pray for the people on the East Coast and be ready to render assistance as they can. After all it’s the Christian thing to do.   I know that is what I will be doing, but that’s just me.

Peace and Blessings,

Padre Steve+

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