I experienced my first bit of what a person goes through when there is a state of emergency - and guess what - I was actually prepared in some ways.
Mike and I had taken a few days off from work - to go visit some friends in upper NY state on the w/e that Irene was forecast to hit the eastern seaboard. We knew that where we live in Montreal - that there was a forecast of 100-200 cms of rain fall and hoped that while we were gone that our trees that we have trimmed on a regular basis would hold up in the winds that might hit us and that our sump pump would handle all the rainfall.
So, come Sunday morning at our friends house in Rochester, NY, we watched what was happening along the eastern coast of the USA on Fox news as to what was occurring in areas that weren’t along the coast – all that was shown was areas by the coast - we had no clue about Vermont / Adirondack area of New York state. Lake Ontario that laps the shores of Rochester was like being by the ocean as you can see by this video (glad we weren’t sailing that day – if we had been – we’d have had the sails reefed in or achored in a safe harbour). So, come Monday, we headed off to Lake Placid which is a 4 hour drive south-east Rochester. We did not know at the time what we were driving into at that point.
Coming into Lake Placid, where we were staying at near the Olympic village (we could see the Olympic torch from our balcony) for the winter games in that were held in 1980 we noticed a line up on the road in front of the entrance way to the B&B. We then found out that this area of the Adirondacks as well as parts of Vermont had been hit hard by tropical storm Irene (see this video prepared by Vermont Red Cross). Many roads were closed due to flooding, bridges impassable. Scary stuff if you weren’t prepared for it.
We only stayed the night at the B&B as we both had to get back to work, and for myself, even more important a GP appointment I had made 3 months ago - that I could not miss. The next day, we ventured out, thinking that in less than 30 minutes we would be hitting Plattsburgh which is the last "big" city before we head back to the back to the border of Canada. It took us over 2 hours to figure a way out of there. Road signs lead us to dead ends – either looping us back to where we had come from or just not saying anything except “Road Closed” – no direction of where to go. It was then that I started to feel abit of anxiety hit me and even my DH who normally is calm in situations, was beginning to not be that cool guy I know.
We lucked in (I say this with a *smile*) on flagging down a few NY State Troopers to ask them what roads were open. Sadly, they were from the Rochester, and didn't know the area well that they were stationed in. They told us to go find a place to stay for the next 1-2 days until roads were hopefully passable - as this area we were in was in “state of emergency”. Mike was okay with that - as he was sure his boss would understand the situation - but for me - to miss out on this GP's appointment was something I was not too happy about.
The good thing was that I had enough diabetic supplies to see me thru' at least 3 weeks it was the one good thing. Along with 4 cases of Wegman's diet ginger ale and some various nibbles - we were set if the worst case scenario had happened – which some people may not have been.
To make a long story short - in the end - we found a way to connect ourselves to the I-87, but the destruction along the way with how high the water had come up over roads, along with broken trees, etc. made you realise how destructive wind and rain can be. The level and flow of water in the streams we went by - impressive to say the least – but scary. The route that we took with winding back roads, amazing in our '97 Boxster that we'd treated ourselves to as our mutual 50th / wedding anniversary pressie. Luckily, we skirted the debris on the roads, but if it had been worse, a 4X4 would have been needed.
Why the state troopers told us that we couldn't get out is another story. Either it was due to the fact that they didn't know the region, who knows? All we knew was, with help of GPS (though a map would have been helpful - technology is good - but old fashioned paper maps sometimes can be helpful as well). So, in a small way, I felt the apprehension of what it feels like in a small way and it's not pleasant. I am hoping that the parts of Vermont that got hit hardest gets back to “normal” before winter hits us in 12 weeks!