I lived in Maryland for years and have seen my share of hurricanes, tropical storms and other scary weather. Since I moved to Ohio, however, I've mostly felt sheltered from major natural disasters. (Mild earthquakes and occasional but not-very-threatening tornado warnings aside.) As I read about Hurricane Sandy's approach this weekend, I worried for my east coast friends and family, but I didn't give much thought to how the storm would impact Cleveland. This was Ohio, after all. We'd be fine.
Well, I changed my tune this afternoon when I left the office and walked through part of downtown Cleveland. For 20 soaking wet and uncomfortable minutes, I endured sideways rain, intense wind and gusts so strong at one street corner I was actually lifted off my feet – what happened to being nestled safely away from the hurricane in Ohio?
Obviously, my chilly, wet and potentially dangerous walk through wind-blown downtown Cleveland isn’t as concerning as what my friends in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York are dealing with right now. But the strength of the wind outside is a reminder of just how powerful and far-reaching Hurricane Sandy might be.
FEMA offers tips for how to respond during a hurricane:
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Evacuate if you are directed to do so by local authorities, and be sure to follow their instructions.
- Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed.
- Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
No matter where you are as Hurricane Sandy continues approaching land today and tomorrow – please, be safe. As for me, I’m gearing up to bundle into my coat and brave that weather once more. Wish me luck.