Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene Made My Fingers Cramp

Irene, as tweeted by a NASA astronaut

Last Thursday, my husband told me his editors wanted him to basically live at his office to ride out Hurricane Irene. This made sense, from a work perspective, but I immediately was frightened. He would be in a generator-powered building, built to withstand 130 mile per hour winds, and I would be alone in our apartment, trying to keep my company's website afloat from afar. 

If the power went out, I'd be alone here. If roads were impassable, I might be alone here, with limited supplies and not able to see my husband for days. If the Internet/power were out for an extended period of time, our website wouldn't stay updated and our readers wouldn't be able to get information (accessible to many through smart phones). I didn't know what to do.

We debated some options — could I sleep at my office? Could its generator power radio equipment AND computer equipment? Likely not. We decided I would travel to Alexandria to safely work from there.

It seemed like a kind of crazy scheme...leave the area to report on it from far away? But me and two of my coworkers decided to do it and we all hit the road Friday. It was the best decision we could have made, because, as it turns out, our office lost power and at least one of us lost power at home for days. 

We quickly realized after the storm had passed that we were one of the only sources of information for our readers. We began posting information of where they could get coffee, free water, gas to our website, facebook and twitter and for the subsequent days, we worked all the time except for breaks to eat and sleep. 

It was exhausting (literally, my finger joints were popping), but our readers started reaching out, telling us stories about how they weren't sure if they could even go home until we posted that power was back in their neighborhood, or they had no idea if their workplace would be open, or they were able to get one of the last generators because we mentioned it. We worked through the exhaustion because, for once, we didn't imagine they needed us. They actually needed us.

So on Tuesday morning, I was finally able to journey home and see my husband (!!!) and since then, things have gradually begun to return to normal. We still don't have any fresh food in our fridge, and tomorrow will be my first day off since August 21.

Thank you for bearing with me during these days of sparse posting! I promise to get back on track next week.

What was you hurricane experience like? If you don't live in an area that was affected, have you ever been through a natural disaster? Please share!

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