The peak of the official hurricane season here on eastern Long Island extends from August 15 to September 30, and during that time the experts at the weather service say that more than 10 hurricanes, at least two of them monsters, should come roaring up the Atlantic coast.
There is a high likelihood that some of them will hit Long Island full force shattering trees, knocking down power lines, imploding houses, breaching the dunes and flooding the downtowns. So you have to watch out.
Here are some of the things you can do to survive a hurricane.
1. Make sure that the four hurricane bolts inside the attic of your house are in good order. These bolts, with their attached hooks and steel wire, extend through the roof of your home and go straight down inside the walls of your house to concrete footings below your basement, to keep your house from blowing off its foundations by winds of up to 300 miles an hour. They’ve been required by law in all new construction since the Hurricane of 1938. And you cannot miss them because the hook part is painted bright orange.
Check these hurricane bolts for rust or any other signs of deterioration and have them repaired or replaced if necessary. Most important is to check the steel wire. It should make a twanging sound around middle C when plucked. If they are too loose, tighten them by twisting the super screws a foot down from the bolt hook. If you cannot move the super screws, get a long screwdriver and place it through the slot and using that leverage, turn them. Don’t over tighten. If you do, and you find they are now too taut to twang, call a carpenter or handyman to loosen them.
2. Make sure you have plenty of flashlights and a good supply of batteries for them in the event the power fails.
3. As you may know, the East End is famous for its “human chain” of teenagers who run down to the docks in our villages at the start of a hurricane to stand on all the boats, holding hands with one another to keep any of the boats from flying off, or at least, if one boat goes then they all go. Make sure your teenager has his Human Chain Card, which is available at all Chamber of Commerce offices in the area. Teenagers must be at least 14 years of age, be in good health, and complete the one-hour course offered by the Human Chain Society. All teenagers must keep their Human Chain Card on their person at all times and produce it when asked by the authorities. They must also report to the nearest firehouse upon the sounding of the signal, three short bursts and three long bursts, followed by three faster short bursts on the noon whistle (the Morse code signal for distress) in every community.
4. Years ago, weather reporting was much more primitive than it is today, and often hurricanes hit the area with little more than five or 10 minutes notice. Today, of course, hurricanes are tracked hourly on most TV and radio channels.
Be sure you have available a portable radio that operates on batteries during this time. Regular TVs and radios won’t work with the power off, of course.
5. You might want to consider selling your house and purchasing a new one in one of the communities that has its own private power generating system. These homes are more expensive, of course, and that is why. Look into homes for sale around Lake Agawam in Southampton and around Georgica Pond in East Hampton. Both of these communities have recently built underground nuclear power plants that attach by wires to all the houses hooked up to it. It’s something to think about.
6. Stock up on plenty of canned food in the pantry. Make sure you have a can opener. Nothing is worse than sitting in your house in the dark trying to open a can of beans by stabbing it with a fork.
7. Unlike the teenage “Human Chain’” program, which is mandatory, you really ought to consider entering your dog, if you have one, in the volunteer “dog alert’” program. “Dog Alert” is a privately funded organization which will test your dog to see if he will howl in anticipation of a soon to arrive hurricane. If he does, he will be issued a “Dog Alert” dog tag to hang on his collar informing people that he is a participant in the “dog alert” program. The owner of the dog will be provided with a beeper that must be carried at all time that is both a GPS system and an alarm beeper. In the event you hear the beeper, go to your dog’s side and stay there. Computers will track the location of all the dogs in the “dog alert” program, and if there are parts of town where there are no dogs participating, you may be telephoned and asked to transport your dog to that area to fill in the gaps during the upcoming arrival of the hurricane.
8. Check that you have adequate rain gear for everyone in the house and if there is not enough, purchase a few of those folding raincoats that fit into a bag, enough of them to make up the shortfall.
9. All windows must be boarded up with plywood in anticipation of the arrival of a hurricane. Otherwise, windows shatter and we don’t want that. This year there is a new alternative being offered which is the Batman Window Shutdown system. At the press of a button on a remote control steel cladding slides into place in a circular camera shutter pattern to protect your precious windows. It’s expensive, but worth it. Call 1-906-555-5421. Someone will call you back.
10. You can never have too many candles or matches in the house before a hurricane. Power is out, sometimes, for months and months.
11. This year, for the first time, a law has been passed that as soon as it can be determined that a hurricane is going to strike the area, all trees more than 100 years old and/or 100 feet high are to be taken down in order to prevent them from falling on nearby buildings. As you hear the sound of chainsaws just before the arrival of a new hurricane, rest assured. The town is protecting you.
12. Fill your bathtubs with water just prior to the arrival of a hurricane. You will be using it as drinking water unless, of course, a really stupid member of your family decides that someone has been really nice by drawing this wonderful bath for them and then climbs in to get clean.
13. Also new this year is a law against surfing in the ocean waves during a hurricane. This has been a grand tradition for many years. But it is dangerous. Any surfers found riding the waves this year will be shot on sight.
14. Buy several gallon size jugs of fresh water. If you don’t we assure you, you will be out on the street during the downpour that accompanies the hurricane with your chin up and your mouth open along with the rest of the losers.
15. The police are suggesting a preemptive program for all automobiles. Immediately before the arrival of a hurricane, get some strong teenagers out into your driveway and have them turn all the cars you own upside down. Huge gusts of wind will therefore turn them right side up and that is how you will find them when the hurricane is over.
16. Be aware that there is no telling how long it will take for an arriving hurricane to come through and move on to, say, Providence, Rhode Island. The Hurricane of 1938, which killed 350 people here, passed over the area in less than one hour and 30 minutes, traveling at speeds in excess of 65 miles an hour. The little known Hurricane of 1911, however, took almost five months to cross over Long Island. It was one-tenth the size of the great Hurricane of 1938 thank goodness, but the local population, which had to live with it from August 12, 1911 to December 23, 1911, tracked it traveling at little more than 500 yards per day. Many were just plain fed up with it after the first few months.
17. Remember that in our community, it is against the law to film, videotape or record in any manner an arriving hurricane. There is also to be no flash photography. And turn off your cellphones.
18. There is a new law on the books this year that says merchants, inundated by crowds of hysterical afraid-of-the-hurricane shoppers, may not sell candles, bottled water, matches, canned food, lanterns, kerosene, roof bolts, plywood, duct tape or portable generators at more than 15 times their usual retail value.