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As news of Hurricane Irene swept across all media forums, I was unexcitedly told the area in which I live along the Hudson River in Upstate New York could be affected. Maybe we would get some heavy rain. Maybe a few fallen limbs. No big deal, I thought. I survived the ice storm of 1998 while living in Vermont, and I can survive this, too. But, boy, was I wrong. Unfortunately, what happened was far more havocking than I could have ever imagined. Living along the Hudson River, I knew there was a possibility it could overflow. But, what happened instead is it overflowed and the river's width suddenly expanded to the side of my apartment building. Pictured right is a view out of the window of the back of my building.
As you can see, this was not just a lot of water, this was a cataclysmic flood. I am not one who panics easily, but when you're told you should be prepared to evacuate, and that all bridges in your area are closed, I believe it's okay to freak out a little bit. Needless to say, the water crashed into my apartment building, and into the stores, restaurants and bars that neighbor my building and are owned and staffed by people whom I consider good friends. The water stayed high most of Aug. 29. People were gathered in the streets, police were on hand to monitor the situation and we all sat and watched, waiting for the water to recede. And, it did the next day. But the aftermath left a harrowing vision of destruction, and made it very clear that hours upon hours of cleanup were in order. My belongings, pets and apartment were fine, thanks to the fact that I live on one of the top floors of my building. My neighbors on the other hand, were not so lucky. Volunteers, police, firefighters and city workers strived tirelessly to get things back to "normal." Some neighbors said they had good insurance; others said they did, but were not fully covered. Some business owners were seen in the wee hours cleaning out their first floors, trying to salvage what they could and were cautiously optimistic about reopening.
So, now that I have witnessed a flood firsthand, I have to use this as an opportunity to get on a "soapbox" and plead with you to make sure you're prepared if something, anything, were to happen in your area. You have to remember, I was only warned of heavy rain and heavy winds, and look at what happened. Are you prepared? Do you have a better-safe-than-sorry mentality? Do you have the right insurance? Are you taking the proper precautions? Are you willing to close up for the day and send your employees home, even if the weatherman is just saying there's a possibility that a storm can occur? Are you willing to be called foolish when it comes to being overly cautious? I know my attitude has changed. And, I know that I would rather be called silly for seeking higher ground in preparation of a natural disaster, than come across as too calm or too cool and not do a thing. I hope you will do the same.
On this page, there's a great story about insurance coverage. I implore you to read it and check your policy, and make sure you're ready for anything, big, small, or in between, that might come your way.
Debra Gorgos, Editor