Late last night, and based on my Twitter feed alone, I suddenly realized that while there sure are a lot of former New Yorkers down in Florida -- mostly the old and infirm, driving along our highways in tank-like cars, at speeds that barely approach those attained while riding a bicycle -- there doesn't seem to be a lot of Floridians up in New York. This is a sorry state of affairs, especially with a hurricane approaching our fair city. And as we begin to batten down the hatches, and as increasingly shrill anchorpersons fill our airwaves with talk of tropical weather patterns, I can't help but wonder: Who will be the voice of reason, the bellwether of calm and clarity, during these dark and stormy times?
Certainly not I. But, being a Floridian, and having reported on a diverse and complex range of important local issues -- from feral iguanas to feral iguanas -- there are some who might consider me to be something of an expert on Floridian affairs, which (aren't you lucky!) also includes hurricanes. In fact, on account of these weather systems and their accompanying aftermaths, calling it "The Sunshine State" doesn't seem altogether appropriate; our nickname should probably be something more holistic, something like, "Florida: If you thought the problem was bad, just wait until you see the solution!"
This is because in Florida, whether it be a national election, a beach restoration, or simply a Burmese python infestation, when it comes to words ending in --tion, nine times out of ten, the resolves (or, for that matter, any event stemming from other, chronologically earlier events) tend to be more humorous, and then invariably much worse, than the problems themselves. For instance, one weekend, we stopped receiving a half dozen or so of the nearly 6,000 cable channels that once piped through our home, and a certain member of our family whose identity shall go unmentioned (e.g., my dad) decided that life with only 5,994 television channels was simply a life not worth living. Thus, he decided to call the cable company. They were very apologetic, and immediately dispatched a repairman -- the word "repair," as it's affixed to the front portion of his name, suggesting that the man would remedy the calamitous dearth of high definition Uzbekistani infomercials that were once a part of our lives. As a result of his visit, we spent the next several days with sporadic internet, patchy telephone, and no cable service, though my father did get to spend many hours on the phone with a kindly tech support woman in the Philippines while he waited for our system to be rebooted (again and again and again), discussing the scores of local cricket matches, which, under a certain light, could have counted as near television-like entertainment, especially if the cable wasn't up and running for Sunday's Manchester United match on Setanta Sports.
This all has something to do with hurricanes and/or hurricane preparedness (though I, for one, would be hard-pressed to tell you how). Having experienced several of these storms myself, I know that they can be frightening things. And this one may prove no exception, especially after a week that's included other telltale signs of nature's magnificent and awesome power -- namely, an earthquake, and the Kardashian wedding. And so, being a Floridian, and holding an MA in Creative Writing & Meteorological Services (Just kidding! Climatology's only offered through the Department of Romance Languages and Literature), I figured that I should come up with some sort of guide to hurricane preparedness and survival, custom tailored for the denizens of New York, sure to see you through whatever tempests may come your way.
Before it hits, some will see the storm as more of a social occasion rather than a disastrous cyclone of pummeling winds and punishing rains. Thus, you will want to host hurricane parties. To be sure, hurricane parties can be fun, and a great way of saying, "This is the roomful of people I'd like to spend the next several days entertaining in an enclosed space that has no running water or electricity." The general theme of this get-together should reflect a wry, city-wizened sense of irony, with a playlist that contains as many remixes of "Stormy Weather" as you can muster.
In terms of supplies, stocking up on food is probably a good idea -- such a good idea, in fact, that I ate most of mine while writing this article! Board games are also important, in that they can provide hours of entertainment, require no electricity, and also include dice, handy devices for picking whom you'll be eating when all the Cheez Doodles are gone.
After the weather system passes, FEMA will probably want get involved, meaning that you should start ingratiating yourselves with any relatives currently living in Canada. Remember that the streets will be littered with the detritus of the storm -- documentary filmmakers -- who'll want to capture everything that FEMA does. Whatever you do, do not sign their release waivers.
But if there's one thing that I've learned about hurricanes and being prepared for them, it's the following mantra:
Don't be an idiot.
That's right. Don't be an idiot. If a choice is to be made, ask yourself, "Would an idiot do this?" If your answer is "yes," then don't do it. And there you have it. Your complete guide to hurricane preparedness and survival.
(Oh, and you may want to stock up on water, batteries, tinned food, can openers, flashlights, candles, first-aid kits, and any prescription medicines that you'll need; avoid downed power lines, broken glass, or any other objects that seem too pointy and/or sparkly. And, most importantly, stop reading this, because it's not all that informative, and, having played all of those highly-ironic "Stormy Weather" remixes, you'll probably want to save power on your phone .)
Follow Martin Marks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/martinjmarks