We’re inside the window for Hurricane Sandy, and the storm’s earliest effects are now arriving in the DC Metro area. Winds are picking up now, and the first rains are already in Ocean City and are moving their way westward into the Metro area. We’ll see this continue over the next several hours. The storm is expected to bring with it high winds (50mph+) and a lot of rain (3-8″ is forecast) and that’s going to mean power outages across the metro area as trees come down. Here’s a few things you should be prepared for:
Be ready for the power to go out.
Our region is not know for its high-reliability utilities. Overhead power lines and a substantial tree canopy have a tendency to be in conflict. Power goes down, and because it’s not safe to work amid a hurricane, it stays down for days until the storm’s passed and the workers can safely make it to where they need to be. Prepare for that today, if you can:
- Have a clean dishwasher. Nothing says gross like a dirty dishwasher three days unable to run.
- Get your laundry done early. If you think dirty dishes are awful, moldy clothes are worse. So get your laundry done early.
- Conduct some fridge triage. Chinese leftovers from two weeks back? Lasagna that’s able to vote? Get it out ahead of the storm.
- Charge your electronics. Keep ‘em plugged in around the house if you can, but on a surge protector where possible. While the WiFi is going to drop when the power does, your mobiles that have cellular data access may be very, very useful
Know your neighborhood and your neighbors
Knowing your neighborhood is crucial in a storm. Does the corner store across from you always stay open because they’ve got one of the kubota generators? Good to know. Does it go dark when Pepco blows it again? Good to know. Do you know your neighbors well enough to ask if they’ve got a spare can of soup if you haven’t prepared? Do you know your neighbors well enough to check in on them in the event of a storm? Maybe it’s time you go say hello, or even just ask if they need a ride to the grocery store.
When things get hairy, having a built-in team environment to work with is pretty crucial, and your neighbors and nearby friends are your go-team when things get difficult out there.
Once the heavy duty stuff is through and cleanup is underway, check in with your neighbors, and if your house or apartment isn’t the one that’s flood or suffering from a tree through the roof, maybe you offer your help to those of your friends and neighbors that aren’t so fortunate. Kindness goes a long way in the aftermath of the storm.
Be ready for closings
We don’t know yet what the Feds are doing for tomorrow yet, but as of now Howard County Public Schools are closing Monday, and I would expect a domino effect of other local edifices in the near term. Watch your local media for a list of closures.
Be ready for transit craziness
Metro hasn’t yet announced any closures or delays beyond this weekend’s track work schedule. MTA in New York City has announced in the last hour that they’re shutting down operations at 7pm, so I’d be ready for similar treatment in the event that WMATA announces the same. WMATA has put up a service advisory with preparation information, and both Metrobus and Metrorail are likely to stop service in the event of safety hazard or power outage or route blockage. Be ready to adapt to a difficult transit conditions and be patient.
Also, don’t go out in the middle of the storm unless you absolutely have to.
Preserve Battery Where You Can
Once the power goes out, it’s never easy to predict when it’s going to come back. So, once you’re out of power, your cell phone’s going to start draining battery. That means you’re going to want to preserve things as best you can. Here are some tips for iPhone users that can probably also go for all Android users, also. Your phone is most useful as a 911 method during the storm, not as a twitter client. Pepco also has a valuable app for their customers that will let you report power outages, as well as check on the outage status.