Irene: Pop Quiz in Preparedness

Windy, rainy, no biggie. Our (pea gravel) front walk is going to mostly wash away (a lot of it is already 150 feet away on the street). But that’s it. Granted, we’re still a couple of hours from the center of the storm. Guess I have some shovel work to fix the walk tomorrow.

 Just a lot of rain, and some relatively minor wind…still a few hours away but the local forecast is diminishing not increasing by the hour.
Have about 3-4 inches of rain so far judging by the straight tub in the yard.  Like Joe, power has blinked once, but remains on.  So far so good!

FROM DAMNTHEMATRIX:Personally, I can’t help but feel that this is a major departure from "normal" climate, and that this might be the very first sign of serious climate disruption… 
The Northeast has always been on the "extreme" edge of hurricanes.  While it is usually unlikely that one will come this far north, it is not unheard of.  I can remember in the late 1990s hurricane Floyd was still at Tropical Storm status when it reached Vermont.  I can’t remember the name of the storm, but wasn’t there one in late 80s or early 1990s that destroyed part of the Bush’s home up in Maine?  The northeast is not that far removed from these storms.  Certainly the south gets more of them by far, and gets hit much more often, but this is not unique.
With respect to the climate change aspect of your post, I think we are already well into it.  Human made or not.  I used to be able to rattle off the statistics, but there are so many now it is pointless to keep track.  Just this year Vermont experienced its snowiest February on record, followed by the wettest April and May.  (I believe I have that right)  Not to mention the size of the snow storms up here has become crazy.  It is something like half of the 10 largest storms on record have been in the last 10 years. 
But I wouldn’t take this one storm as "the" departure mark from the weather/climate norm.  Things have been changing.  They will continue to change.  At this point it is a matter of trying to keep up with the changes. 

I still have power. I just lost it again for a couple of seconds. I’m assuming some section of town gets knocked out each time that happens. We’re now over 500K power outages for the state, surpassing the '85 cane. We’re a heavily wooded state. I just shake my head when people complain about the power company over doing it when it comes to preventative pruning branches/trees near power lines. Followed by complaining that they have no power now, possibly up to a week.
My rain gauge tipped over after 5 inches. I’m guessing we ended up with 6+, and 17+ for the month. Incredible. The rain could have been much, much worse though.

I heard from Dogs - he lost power last night. I’m sure he’s catching up on his scotch in the meantime.

Pretty breezy, rain, water in roads near beaches but still have power. Everyone out gawking at surf and water. Tree limbs down but not bad here on Cape Cod. Not a main event for me.Local pizza joint still open.

In June 1972 Hurricane Agnes came ashore in the Fla. panhandle and headed north basically following the Appalachian chain.  It brought devastating rain to PA and the Finger Lakes region of western NY.  Elmira was flooded for several blocks away from the river.  The Mt. Morris dam on the Genesee River came within inches of overtopping, something completely unheard of before or since.  It eventually went over Lake Ontario and into Canada before dying out.
It reached about as far north as Hurricane Irene is reaching now, and did it largely overland and earlier than the normal hurricane season.  The attached Wikipedia article shows the eye going back out into the ocean at N. Carolina and going ashore again around NYC before heading NW.  Interesting that that path is not reflected in the rainfall map.  That shows heaviest rainfall amounts through PA and western NY.

I think by any measure that storm was much more freakish and damaging than Irene.


[quote]The large disturbance was first detected over the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico on June 14. The system drifted eastward and became a tropical depression later that day and a tropical storm over the northwestern Caribbean on the 16th. Agnes turned northward on June 17 and became a hurricane over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico the next day. A continued northward motion brought Agnes to the Florida Panhandle coast on June 19 as a Category 1 hurricane.

Agnes turned northeastward after landfall and weakened to a depression over Georgia. However, it regained tropical storm strength over eastern North Carolina on June 21 and moved into the Atlantic later that day. A northwestward turn followed, and a just-under-hurricane-strength Agnes made a final landfall on June 22 near New York City. The storm merged with a non-tropical low on June 23, with the combined system affecting the northeastern United States until June 25.[1]

[edit] Impact

See also: 1972 Hurricane Agnes tornado outbreak
Agnes Rainfall Across the East
Agnes was barely a hurricane at landfall in Florida, and the effects of winds and storm surges were relatively minor. The major impact was over the Mid-Atlantic region, where Agnes combined with a non-tropical low to produce widespread rains of 6 to 12 inches (300 mm) with local amounts up to 19 inches (480 mm) in western Schuylkill County in Pennsylvania.[2] These rains produced widespread severe flooding from Virginia northward to New York, with other flooding occurring over the western portions of the Carolinas. (from Hurricane Agnes Rainfall and Floods, June–July 1972) Death Tolls by Area
Area Deaths
Canada 2
Cuba 9
Florida 9
North Carolina 2
Virginia 13
Delaware 1
Maryland 19
New Jersey 1
New York 24
Pennsylvania 50
Total 130

Some of the worst flooding was along the Genesee River, the Canisteo River, and the Chemung River in southwestern and south central New York. The latter two flow into the Susquehanna River, and most of the severe flooding took place throughout the Chesapeake/Susquehanna watershed. Flooding set a flood record at, and threatened to overtop, the Conowingo Dam near the mouth of the Susquehanna in Maryland. The worst urban damage occurred in Elmira, New York and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, but many other communities along the rivers suffered great losses. Dick Baumbach, a reporter for The Elmira Star Gazette, covered the hurricane and almost lost his life while he was attempting to take a photograph of the very rapidly rising flood waters in Wellsburg, New York. He went on to be awarded the Associated Press Meritorious Service Award for his coverage of the hurricane. The Delaware River and Potomac River basins also had some flooding. So much fresh water was flushed into Chesapeake Bay that its seafood industry was badly damaged for several years; freshwater intolerant species such as jellyfish became largely non-existent in the upper and mid bay.[3]

Rainfall in the Piedmont regions of Maryland and Virginia caused extensive flooding in the Patapsco, Potomac and James River basins. Areas along the James west of Richmond and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains received massive amounts of rainfall that exceeded the rains of Hurricane Camille three years prior. The river experienced five-hundred year flooding levels, inundating downtown Richmond and causing millions of dollars in damages.[4] The swollen Patapsco River swept away houses and ten miles (16 km) of train tracks, blocking at one point every transportation route southward out of Baltimore into neighboring Anne Arundel County, Maryland toward Annapolis.[5] Maryland had the highest per capita death toll of all five states declared disaster areas by President Nixon (Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York). Extensive flooding was recorded even as far inland as Pittsburgh and throughout the Ohio River Valley, where rivers crested 11 feet (3.4 m) above flood stage on June 24 after nearly a foot of rain fell in parts of Western Pennsylvania over the course of three days.[6]

Agnes caused 122 deaths in the United States. Nine of these were in Florida (mainly from severe thunderstorms) while the remainder were associated with the flooding. The storm was responsible for $2.1 billion in damage (1972 US dollars) in the United States, the vast majority of which came from the flooding.[7] Of this, over $2 billion was in Pennsylvania, and $700 million in New York.[8] Agnes also affected western Cuba, where seven additional deaths occurred.

At the time it hit, Agnes was the costliest storm ever to impact the United States.[9] Currently, after adjustment for inflation, Agnes is the seventh costliest storm in United States history with a total of $11.6 billion (2005 US dollars).[10] It is still the worst natural disaster, in terms of damages and lives lost, in Pennsylvania’s history.[9]

In Canada, Hurricane Agnes gave heavy rains and winds over southern Ontario and southern Quebec, causing numerous floodings around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. In the town of Maniwaki, Quebec, the storm toppled a mobile home, killing two people.[11]

Agnes had a devastating impact on the already-bankrupt railroads in the northeastern United States, as lines were washed out and shipments were delayed. The resulting cost of repairing the damage was one of the factors leading to the creation of the federally financed Conrail railroad system.

The severe floods near Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania were the catalyst for the construction of the Tioga Reservoir in 1973. The flooding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and the adjacent town of Kingston led to the construction of a levee system that in 2006 successfully prevented massive flooding and, in the same year, was deemed very safe and protective by the Army Corps of Engineers. Conversely, the existing Kinzua Dam, built against the wishes of the Seneca Nation of New York, spared much of Western Pennsylvania from the worst flooding, by filling the Allegheny Reservoir to capacity.[/quote]


…I’ll go ahead and say it’s over here in New Paltz. Wind has died down and rain is tapering. New Paltz has closed the streets to both foot and vehicular traffic and there will be some serious-to-major flooding in a couple places but we’re nowhere near any of that. Power has been fine, although there’s chances that trees can fall even without wind if the earth they’re rooted in is wet enough so I guess we could worry about that for the next 24 hours…if I was the type of person who needed something to worry about. Maybe I’ll fret about how Dogs & Cat are doing instead. Viva – Sager

[quote=Damnthematrix]Personally, I can’t help but feel that this is a major departure from "normal" climate, and that this might be the very first sign of serious climate disruption…
My colleague was up in the Arctic for a few weeks until a couple days ago collecting marine specimens, he’s been going up almost every summer for the last 25 years or so. He couldn’t believe how warm the water was at 5 C rather than the usual 0 C, and there was basically NO ice anywhere. He had to go a long way to find ice to pack them. He has seen without question that there are major changes happening in the Arctic over the years, confirmed by scientific observation.

On another note, I watched idoctor’s After Armageddon link last night, that was very interesting. But in that situation the population went down due to disease, whereas the problem we now have is a Malthusian collapse where the population is too high and we no longer have cheap abundant fossil fuels or the organizational structures to facilitate the precarious modern food production and distribution system. So some of the problems may be worse than described in the video (crime, scarcity of stuff), others not so bad (not so many dying people everywhere, and I don’t think gasoline will disappear, it will just be rationed and really expensive, since the US still produces a significant amount of oil internally, just not enough to power everyone to commute to work along LA freeways).
It made me seriously think about security which I have been thinking more about lately but I haven’t done much specifically to plan for it. Solar panels aren’t very useful if they just attract looters. It’s time to get some firearms and I also think we will invest in a little boat, maybe even a 30’ sailboat that can move without fossil fuels, so we can escape up the coast if needed, I know lots of great places we could hunker down and survive in almost indefinitely. There’s a lot of Americans from the west coast, especially LA, that may be heading north after a collapse looking for greener pastures and we are there.
Good luck to everyone on the east coast.

…the power just went out. I kid you not. [grin]

We’ve been w/o power since about 9:30 AM (near Albany, NY).  We’re over at my brother’s house right now where there is power.  A crew was working on the lines about 3/4 mile from our house, so we’ll likely have power in a bit.  The biggest gaps in our summer time preps could be filled by the following (in order of priority, ease of implementation, expense):

  1. more drinking water storage containers.
  2. rain barrels to make getting wash/toilet water easier.  There was no problem today.  I just put out the big 100 gallon recycling can the town gave us at the roof drip line.  We now have that plus a bathtub full.
  3. 2-3 200W solar panels plus a 12-24V low power chest freezer and fridge down in the basement where summertime temperatures are in the mid sixties and they'll draw very little power.
  4. A second well with a quality hand pump and possible solar electric back up - connected directly to the current plumbing.
  5. Enough extra power from the panels/batteries to run a few led lights inside.
#3 and 4 would cost the most, but could provide lots of benefits.

The reason I originally asked "Has this ever happened before?" is because storms like this NEVER EVER reach so far from the equator in Australia, and quite likely the whole Southern Hemisphere…  As I said, should a Cyclone ever reach Tasmania… well we would all be wondering what the hell is going on!
This storm was a bit of a pup by the look of things on the news…  I find it interesting that some your reports of rainfall look just like ordinary rain to me.  We got 4 inches of rain over the weekend, and it "just rained".  Our tanks are full again - 12,000 gallons!  We once had 10 inches in two hours here, now THAT’s a downpour!!

Here on our news they keep talking about the 1921 Hurricane that hit NY and another in 1878 (?) when hardly anyone lived there compared to now… Manhattan was covered in 13ft of water apparently.  So I withdraw the question… thanks to everyone who responded, glad to hear everyone is safe.


It is a good question though, because it is rare for storms like this one to get this far north.  Sorry if any of our responses were short or curt, they weren’t meant to be.
Southern VT has more damage than northern VT.
Here in northern VT the power has flicked on and off three times in the last 15 minutes.  We are still getting some strong rain…and the winds have really picked up.  Trees are bending a bit, leaves are really flapping.  But if that is the extent of it…oh well…power will probably go out for a longer period of time if this wind keeps up.

The storm appears to be losing energy quickly now, and should not pose any new threats beyond a typical New England wind storm. We got lucky here on the coast of Maine, where we’ve yet to experience a full gale. I hope everyone else south of me who was more directly affected by the storm survived ok and learned something new about their own preparedness from the experience.
It occurs to me that the aftermath of an event like this is a perfect time for all of us to spread the word about the Crash Course to our friends and neighbors. People are much more receptive to the "it pays to be prepared" message in a time like this. So I’m posting this note as the storm loses steam over northern Vermont/New Hampshire, to encourage everyone who lives in areas affected by the storm to pass the word about the crash course. The more we can do to help others see the need to prepare, the more we mitigate the panic/mayhem effect that is certain to accompany a major systemic shock to the global economic system.

To promote this idea of using this crisis to get our neighbors to wake up and watch the Crash Course, I would like to donate 25 copies of the (first version, not the deluxe boxed set) of the Crash Course on DVD to the first Irene survivor to claim them with a reply to this thread. But wait, there are rules! To qualify, you must:

  • Live in an area directly affected by Irene, and have experienced the storm yourself personally
  • Be willing to actually spend the time it takes to reach out to friends and neighbors, and convince them that it's really worth their time to watch the CC. I worked hard with several other volunteers to produce these DVDs on an amazingly short schedule, and I have some sweat equity attachment to them. I'm not willing to have them left out on a street corner with a "FREE" sign on them, for example. Please only respond if you are willing to be an ambassador of the CC in your community, and do your best to really get all 25 people you give them to to actually watch them. (I've given them to restaurant staff before, and later found them being used to shim unlevel tables - hopefully your luck will be better).
Whoever meets the above criteria (honor system) and responds first with "I agree to spend the time it takes not to let them go to waste" wins. (If you don't put those words in your reply I shall assume you didn't read the rules before posting, and you'll be disqualified!). Whoever is first, send me a PM with your ship-to address and I'll get them out media mail in the next few days. If something goes wrong and you don't have time to actually put them to good use, please pass the unused supply on to another member of this community.

Good luck, and even if you don’t win, please consider the idea of finding your own way to spread the word about the Crash Course in your community . How long would it take to print up a message about how the CC helped you be more resilient on business card stock you can buy at Staples, to pass out to friends and neighbors? (Note: always remember to prominently include on such cards!)

Never letting a good crisis go to waste,


This is interesting. The copper pipe that runs from my well tank piping(inside of another cast iron? pipe) to the well casing outside is leaking water into my basement. I had the well pump replaced a few weeks ago and the installer replaced the concrete around the copper pipe with silicone. My friend just called and he had the same issue happen to him with his well. I’ve been draining water throughout the afternoon into my sewer line to lower the well water level. It’s amazing the things that come up at critical moments.

But not realistic for me. Good luck to someone.Very spooky wind in the mid 60 mph and higher gusts but its on the way out. Just need a few more hours without power outage, which has been happening here, and am ok on Cape Cod.
The flooding near CM is awful, tho, hope they are doing ok. Hope Dogs and Cat ok;this looks pretty bad for a lot of folks.

Thanks for the update, cape. Here in Maine it was a big non-event. It’s all too easy to forget that friends a few hundred miles away had a very very different experience.
My thoughts go out to everyone in the community who were hurt by this.


now that cape’s comments have sunk in, I feel like a jerk for offering the DVDs to the first person to reply, when I should have realized that the people hit worst (whom I would feel best about sending the DVDs to for their friends) will be unable to reply because of lost connectivity to the net. Duh… Why didn’t I think of that?
I’m just trying to figure out how to do as much good as possible with 25 CC DVDs I have extra. If anyone can think of a smarter way to give them away, I’m all ears.

Best wishes to all who were affected,


We had lots of rain here in Albany NY, trees down, friends and family with power outages, and roads flooded out.  Going over to my dad’s this morning, I had to stop and pick a different route several times, as the way was blocked by downed trees.  What was valuable was advanced planning and preparation (chainsaw, generator, fuel) situational awareness (watching the news and weather websites, keeping in communication with friends and family with landline, mobile phone, sms)  The possibility of loss of these types of communication makes me want to go get a handheld police scanner and a handheld HAM transciever.  The need for communication and situational awareness is crucial.Lessons learned.
I could get 25 people to watch the CC.

I could get 25 people to watch the CC.[/quote]
Cool. I need to pass the baton as I am leaving the country Sept 1st and unfortunately don’t have time to break up and send to multiple recipients.
I will send 25 pieces to you. You can give them to people who you believe will watch them, or pass them on to others in this community if you feel that’s more appropriate.
I feel like I should be "waiting for the most affected to reply", but I need to get these things in the mail before my flight departs too. I trust spinone to either put them to good use or find someone who will.
spinone, please send me another PM with your ship-to addr.

Done -If others in this community could take a batch of 5 and get others to watch it too, I would be willing to break up the package of 25.  Most important is to get the word out.