Hurricane Irene Arrives (Day 4)

Read about the prep: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3

Saturday, August 27

Woke up worrying about my water heater. It’s in the flood-prone basement too and while it’s raised up on cinderblocks, still susceptible to water if my basement really floods. It’s gas too, which kind of scares me, for all its normal convenience. On the advice of a friend, I called Easton Utilities and they assured me that it probably had an automatic shutoff mechanism should the pilot light extinguish. That made me feel better — I didn’t want to have to preemptively shut off anything if I could help it.

Since it was just overcast and not actually raining yet, I ventured down to the open-air market. I wasn’t sure if it would be open and there were less than half the normal vendors (and those that were there weren’t set up as elaborately as they normally would be). I picked up some fresh veggies to have on-hand, a sugar waffle for breakfast and some smoked salmon salad for a sandwich for lunch.

Soon after getting home, the rain started, lightly at first. I hurried to put my car in the garage and then I showered so I could try and fill the tub with water for later, in case I needed it. I also filled my largest pots on the stove with filtered drinking water.

The only problem was that the tub kept draining. It doesn’t have a stopper — you pull up a lever that is supposed to close the drain. I tried setting a saucer over the drain, then a mug, then a bowl, then a towel covered by a bowl, then a canning lid covered by a towel weighted down by a bowl. It just kept draining.

Creative water storage, crowd-sourced on Facebook.

I crowd-sourced my problem on Facebook and received a number of suggestions including using cellophane and a potato. Finally, a friend suggested that I just fill the tub with other items filled with water. That set off a brainwave for me. I remembered these two storage units I bought at Walmart ages ago — they each have 3 huge plastic drawers. I emptied two of the drawers in the unit in my bathroom closet and filled them with water while I fetched the three drawers from the other unit, which was sitting empty in the attic. I was able to stack the filled drawers in the tub and felt much better knowing I had a stash of water for washing and for flushing the toilet, should it come to that.

After checking on the chest freezer, I noticed that one of the bags of water I had put in the day before hadn’t frozen completely, so I cranked up the cold on that unit and on the fridge upstairs (that was actually a recommendation from one of the emergency management organizations I’d been following lately anyhow). I also cranked up the a/c and turned on all the ceiling fans on high. If the house lost power, I wanted it as cold as possible.

At around 1:30 p.m., the radio station in Annapolis that I was listening to (WRNR) was knocked off the air because the City Dock area lost power. I switched over to WCEI here in Easton, which was providing regular updates from around the area. I checked outside and noticed at least an inch of standing water on the sidewalk out front. There wasn’t any water in the basement yet, but the wind and rain really started to pick up then. There were several rivulets in the basement just a couple of hours later (and a trickle running down my chimney in the attic). By that point, we’d had over 3 inches of rain in Easton.

Hurricanes make me hungry.

I kept a close eye on the Internet for weather and local updates. I heated up some of the Amish pork bbq for dinner and had it with coleslaw and corn on the cob (bought at the market that morning). And beer. I was strategically working my way through the beer in the fridge, in case power was lost. Then I could tap the wine stash.

The weather continued to get nastier and nastier. The puddles got bigger down in the basement, but there wasn’t a deluge, as I had feared. The chimney started leaking on three sides in the attic and also was leaking at its base down in the basement. I knew it needed a new cap, but the flashing would need to be looked at too.

Thankfully, I still had power. The lines on my street are buried. The last time our power went out, lightning struck something in the area and we were in the dark for several hours. I was bracing myself for a similar situation, which didn’t transpire.

At around 10:30 p.m. I was pretty exhausted and started to get ready for bed. I didn’t think I’d be getting much sleep — all reports indicated the worst was yet to come. I unplugged everything and stowed the computers and chargers under the tarp in the living room. I took my cell phone into the bedroom with me and also pulled in my extra jugs of water and food bag.

I’d read that you’re supposed to close all of your interior doors at the height of a storm. I suppose that’s so if a room sustains damage, the wind and water will hopefully stay contained in that room.

After closing the door to my room, I couldn’t hear much of what was going on outside, thankfully. The overhead fan also was helping to drown out the noise of the wind and rain. I had debated sleeping in a different room because there is a window at the head of my bed, but the really bad stuff was coming from a different direction. I figured I’d be okay.

I woke up once before midnight — I can’t remember what woke me up, but I went back to sleep shortly thereafter.

(to be continued)

Prep for Hurricane Irene, Day 3

Read about Day 1 and Day 2.

Friday, August 26

Clouds creeping into the area on Friday night.

I worked from home and took breaks to get still more things squared away for the hurricane. One of the first things I did was head back to Target at 9 a.m. because I realized I hadn’t gotten enough C batteries for my radio. Well, they’d since been cleared out. I picked up a couple other items and then headed to Lowes, hoping for better luck.

Lowes had a huge battery display near the registers, but there weren’t any Cs there. I did find a few packages at the customer service counter. I bought enough batteries to power my radio two times through. I also bought DampRid canisters in anticipation of a soon-to-be-damp basement. I contemplated picking up a high-power fan too, but decided I’d return for that later (my hands were full).

Upon returning home, I plugged in both my personal and work laptops and began charging my phone off of the personal laptop. I figured that if the power went out, I could continue to charge the phone from both laptops. I also emptied my ice maker into my cooler for the first time. I brought up my cleaning bucket from the basement to fill with water later.

Around lunchtime, I moved all of my dear-to-me scrapbooks out of my office (an old porch I was afraid would be more prone to leak), along with my fire safe and important papers. These I arranged in the middle of my living room floor to be covered with a tarp later.

Basement-drying supplies.

After work, I went back to Lowes and bought a huge floor fan, a sub pump, a 50-foot hose to drain from the basement to the street using the sub pump, and said tarp for the living room.

While I had my provisions in case of a power outage, I needed some real food too, to get me through until the power was out. So, next I went to the Amish market. The bakery was completely wiped out. I bought one of the remaining two bags of hot-dog buns for the bbq I purchased for dinner over the weekend. I bought some snacks as well — yogurt and kettle corn.

While I was pulling my purchases out of the car, I chatted with some of my neighbors. One of them was pulling his tomato and pepper plants (in pots) into his house — they were all bearing fruit that would have been ruined (not to mention the plants themselves could have become missiles in the wind). The other neighbor had moved a boat normally parked by his house around the corner, where it wouldn’t be as close to trees. His kids seemed excited by the upcoming storm. Everyone was upbeat but somewhat resigned to whatever was coming our way.

Before leaving, I had begun backing up my laptop. While I waited for that to finish up, I did the dishes in the sink and ran the dishwasher. After that finished running, I did two loads of laundry and then unplugged the washer and dryer. On the advice of a friend, I started filling large ziploc bags and tupperware containers with water and these I started stowing in my kitchen freezer and my chest freezer downstairs. The idea being that the more full your freezer is, the cooler it will stay if the power goes out. I also filled two thermoses with filtered drinking water and put them in the fridge to cool.

Finally, I packed a backpack with a change of clothes and toiletries. Just in case…

(to be continued)

Sunset Friday night.

Prep for Hurricane Irene, Day 2

Read Post 1 here.

Thursday, August 25

Rainy/fiery sunset on Thursday, Aug. 25.

The warnings became more dire and Ocean City (about an hour away from me) was ordered evacuated by 5 p.m. Friday night. On my way home from work, traffic heading west on Route 50 was heavy, but it also was slow eastbound, which I chalked up to folks driving to the coast to check on properties before the storm. I saw extra MTA buses heading to Ocean City to aid in the evacuation. I also saw idiots headed in the same direction with bikes and kayaks strapped to their cars.

I still had more provisions that I needed (mostly of the non-food variety) so I headed to Target. There, I bought:

Nuts (I meant to buy these the night before, but forgot)
C batteries for my radio
A solar/wind-up flashlight
A battery-operated LED tap light
Trail mix (there’s a particular variety sold at Target that I really like)
Baking soda (in case the items in my fridge and freezers spoil; might be needed to combat odor later)
Duct tape (FEMA recommended it; wasn’t sure what I would need it for, but sounded like a good idea)

Target was out of 1- or 2-gallon jugs of water and I hated the idea of buying so many small bottles. I went back to Railway Market, where I’d done my food shopping the night before, and bought 3 1-gallon jugs. They say each person needs 1 gallon per day and they recommend a 3-day supply.

When I got home, I noticed my neighbors pulling in items from their backyard and started doing the same in mine. I pulled my empty garbage cans into the garage, leaving room to pull in my car later. I also took down a flag and pole hanging from my front porch and stowed these in my shed.

Then I had my composter to deal with. I thought it would be a simple matter of dragging it into the shed too, but the handle I use to spin the bin made it just too wide to fit through the door. It was starting to rain at this point (not hurricane-related yet). I ran inside to grab a wrench and pliers and started to disconnect the bin from the frame. Luckily, the bin wasn’t anywhere near full, so I was able to lift it into the shed and then the frame fit in easily after that. I did acquire a massive bug bite in the process.

Left to do:

Protect my important documents (personal records, house-related papers, scrapbooks, etc.)
Laundry, and then unplug the appliances (they’re only a couple inches off the ground in my leaky basement)
Start stocking ice in my little Playmate cooler
Backup at least my laptop
Move my office PC out of my office (a converted porch that I’m not entirely convinced won’t leak)
Mail bills before I became homebound
Pull the car into the garage
Fill the tub with water and also a bucket (could be used to pour into the toilet to make it flush, if needed)

(to be continued)

Prep for Hurricane Irene, Day 1

Wednesday, August 24

On the heels of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt here on the Shore and in D.C., our area was warned to prepare for a major hurricane. Irene was to arrive over the weekend. Wednesday is sale day at my local organic/all-natural market, so I decided to stock up on the requisite 2-3 days worth of food they recommend that you have on hand for such emergencies.

Here’s what I bought:

A package of individual-size applesauces
2 cans of tuna (pull-tab lids)
1 box of crackers
1 carton of raspberry green tea in cans
1 carton of coconut milk
1 chocolate bar (almond-sea salt flavor)
1 box Clif Z bars (s’mores flavor)
toilet paper
paper towels

Normally, I don’t like to buy packaged food like this, but there’s really no other choice under such circumstances.

I saw gallon bottles of water there, but decided to wait. I wanted to buy those two-gallon jugs with spouts instead. Should have bought them while they were on sale… (to be continued)

Tombstone Tuesday: Little Lambs

St. John’s Chapel is on Tilghman Island. A friend and I noticed quite a lot of children’s graves there on a recent visit.

This memorial to the children of one family is especially poignant:

In loving memory of the children of Perry and Ada K. Porter.

Ella J., aged 19 years.

Hattie B., aged 13 years.

Hazel K., aged 1. Infant son, born and died March 2, 1893. Katherine, aged 2.

Unfortunately, there’s no trace of these children on the U.S. census as they were born after 1880 and the 1890 census is unavailable. I didn’t find the family in 1900 or 1910. I think I found a widowed Perry living in Virginia in 1920. I couldn’t find evidence of any surviving children.

This church is noteworthy in one other respect. It was the location of a Kennedy wedding recently (article link may require subscription after the summer of 2011).

New Friends Album Discoveries

I’ve had several communications with a Young descendant who also has done genealogy research on the family. He has helped to identify several of the unnamed subjects in the Friends Album by supplying a photo of many Young ancestors in which the family members are id’ed.

He also provided me with the maiden name of Ellis Burton Wilson‘s mother, Susan. Guess what? She was a Young! That means he too was related to all the other known subjects so far. I’m still going to try and reunite the photo of Ellis with one of his grandsons, but barring that, I will send it to be put back in the Friends Album.

It’s really remarkable that everyone in the album may have belonged to the same family. New theories are cropping up among the Young descendants who have contacted me. One thinks that members of a branch of the family in New Jersey may have sold the album after an elderly relative passed away. Another theory is that still another branch of the family settled here in Maryland. Indeed, a Young descendant who lives in St. Michael’s did contact me, but the album did not belong to her family. The plot thickens.

Tombstone Tuesday: Old Wye Cemetery

Historical Marker for Old Wye Episcopal Church

Old Wye Episcopal Church has sat along Route 662 between Queenstown and Easton in one iteration or another since 1721.

The historical marker by the church reads:

“Old Wye Episcopal Church

Only remaining Anglican church in Talbot County. Built in 1721 as a chapel-of-ease by donations of 60,000 pounds of tobacco and 100 pounds of sterling. Originally named St. Luke’s it was a place of worship until 1829. Reconstructed in 1854, but later fell into disrepair until restored in 1949 to original design with high box pews, hanging side pulpit and gallery with original royal arms.”

You can read more about the history of the church on the parish web site.

It’s a quiet location in a residential neighborhood. The church and the grounds are quite beautiful.

On a recent trip there, I snapped many photos around the cemetery. There’s a neat old tree towards the back where dozens of people have carved their initials and other messages over the years. On the right in the photo below, you can see the bridge I mentioned in last week’s Wordless Wednesday post.

Unfortunately, only one of my tombstone photos can be read clearly. I’ll have to go back and take more photos — there are only five graves listed for the cemetery on FindaGrave.

The above stone is for Joseph George Neal (born and died in what looks like 1851 or 1857) and Matthias George Neal (born in 1859 and died in 1861). They are listed as the children of Louis W. H. and M.E. Neal.

I looked Louis up on Ancestry. He apparently was married to a Henrietta M. E. George (so the tombstone was carved with the ‘&’ separating the wrong initials above). Joseph and Matthias were their only children. They all apparently are buried at Old Wye Church. Louis may have remarried, but I didn’t find evidence that he had any more children.

Tombstone Tuesday: St. James Cemetery

A couple of weeks ago, I drove a friend visiting from out of town to Tilghman Island. As we were passing through Sherwood, my friend spotted a cemetery. On our way back home, I pulled off the road so we could check it out — it was St. James Cemetery*. I was shocked at what we found.

The cemetery was completely overgrown, which isn’t too terribly shocking. The reason why it troubled me is that many of the graves we did find were really recent. We saw several graves from the 1990s to as recent as 2008. It was really sad to see them in such a state.

Grave from 1999

Grave from 1992

At first, I thought this cemetery was one that I’d been unable to find before, while fulfilling FindaGrave requests in the area last fall. Turns out this is a completely different cemetery. None of its graves are listed on FindaGrave yet. I hope to return when the weather is colder and the greenery has died back a bit. We briefly skirted around the perimeter of the cemetery on this excursion and got bitten by who knows what in the process.

We couldn't get back to these graves without walking through knee-high weeds to get there and we weren't dressed for the occasion this outing.

* I found the St. James Church on the Maryland Register of Historic Places (link opens PDF). I don’t recall seeing the church, but we weren’t looking for it either. There appeared to be a private residence bordering the cemetery, not a church. There were several tumbling-down shacks in the vicinity. I didn’t find anything else about the congregation on the web — maybe it’s no longer active. This could explain the sad state of the cemetery…

Tombstone Tuesday: Eatwell Hopkins (Not Really)

E. Atwell Hopkins, Stevensville Cemetery, Kent Island

I snapped this photo because of the jazzy way this gentleman’s name was carved onto the stone at an angle, but then I did a double take when I tried to read the name. No, it’s not “Eatwell Hopkins.” It’s “E. Atwell Hopkins.” Unfortunately, the person who cataloged this stone on FindaGrave made the same mistake I initially did. I sent them a correction.