Irene is well on her way and we can put another close one up on the shelf. This hurricane got me thinking. I am thinking back to my sophomore year in high school, September 9th 1989. A small storm was starting off the Cape Verde Islands, a small set of islands on the western shores of Africa. Who knew in 13 days we would be in the ride of a life time. Over the next few days we all watched the storm grow in power, they called it Hugo. After watching the weather channel my family and I decided to evacuate. Well mostly my family decided. I like to think I had a say, but my mom was totally old school, kids are to listen and not speak when adults are talking. I remember my mom telling me that we needed to get my grandmother and us out of Charleston. We packed up the car and got on the road. Now let me tell you a bit about my moms driving... She drove with two feet, one foot on the gas and one foot on the break. She always rode the break so you never knew if she was stopping or going. She avoided the interstate at all cost. She hated to drive. I say this only because her driving scared me! You know I was a teenager and I knew everything and just knew we were going to get killed driving on the interstate! Luckily her boyfriend, Preston, drove us all. What a relief! We drove into Statesville, NC and got a hotel room and hung out to wait the storm out. Most of the hotels were full and had not power. On September 22, 1989 it hit Charleston as a Category 4 hurricane.
It rocked our little southern city. Isle of Palms got hit the worst. Houses came off their stilts and just sat in the middle of the street. Boats stacked up on top of each other in the middle of the streets. I have to tell you it was one of the sadist days when we got back to Charleston. The damage that we saw when we got back was just indescribable. I remember trying to get home through the mess was quite a chore as well. Many of the roads were blocked by down trees and power lines The water was contaminated from the pine tree sap of all the trees that had fallen in to the water system. Schools were closed; mind you I was not upset about that! We came home to a very quiet neighborhood. We lived in North Charleston; there were not too many trees around our house. No damage to the house. One of our neighbors had a tree through their roof. We were lucky. Other than the lack of power and water we were all ok.
I am an Eagle Scout, an avid camper and love to cook outdoors. We had to eat and I was not going to be stuck with eating all things from a box. So I pulled out my trusty Coleman camp stove filled it with gas and set it on top of the electric stove. Gave it a few good pumps and started cooking. We had lots of food that was going to go bad in the refrigerator and freezer so we had to cook it. We ate really well since we had to cook all the food. I have to say I really enjoyed those two weeks. My inner boy scout really came out. After a few days, my Uncle Mike came down, from New Jersey, to bring us an old broken refrigerator filled with meat and dry ice! It kept us going for the next week. We did not have the money for a generator; and at the time, people were price gouging these things like they were gold. Some came from out of state to sell them on the side of the road. Later the police got word from the news and started shutting them down. We just decided to play MacGyver. We grabbed a battery from the car and an old headlight from the car and that was our lantern at night. We would charge the battery in the day time and use it at night. We did that for 14 days. We had a battery powered TV and radio that kept us informed. The internet really was not something that everyone used so it was not missed at all. Mostly a dial up connection to old bulletin board servers, you had to be a real GEEK to have one of those then. Cell phones were not really available either. It took a long time for many of the area businesses to get back and running. The grocery stores opened up first. Many of them had no power. I remember seeing lots of semi-trucks with long lines for ice, food and water. It was quite an experience I have to say.
While looking back on that experience this weekend I try and think what it would have been like if it hit today. A lot has happened in 22 years. We now have cell phones, the internet and phone services through the internet. How many of us have an analog phone or radio in our home anymore? If we had a huge hurricane or earthquake hit Charleston imagine the cell towers being down and the internet being offline for 14 days. If you dont have power or a cell phone how are you going to talk with people or know what is going on? Do you have a HAM radio or CB? We as a country DEPEND on the INTERNET and it being available to use. Just think if I took your cell phone, computer and internet connection away from you for 14 days. Do you have what you need to stay in touch or know what is going on? Its not the end of the world. But 22 years, can make people forget what it was like. Technology is a very dangerous thing. It helps us so much that at times we forget what it was like without it.
I am sharing this with you all in an effort for you to think about it. How would you survive for 14 days? Would your business survive? What do you do that depends on the internet? Does your job or company depend on you being on the internet? Just stop for a moment and think about it.