Tuesday, May 16, 2006
New Hampshire does lame bad emergencies
This afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend, and at that moment everyone else in the world had to call me. This is not a common occurence. I mean, the first time another call came in, I thought my phone was breaking - I'd never heard the combination beep/crackle that it makes for an incoming call. I ignored two calls, then took a third and a fourth - seriously, weird stuff. It was all normal enough calls: a sales call, the exterminator to verify the appointment(It has rained so much that we have ants in our bathroom. In the bathroom. Seriously. They treated the kitchen months ago, so now I have ants eating my soap.), the exterminator to cancel the appointment because his house was being evacuated and he thought that was more important than ants eating my soap, and then the town fire marshal. To inform me that I was being evacuated due to threat of flooding. Well, yippee, how exciting can we possibly get??

The next hour consisted of me running around the house in apparently random fashion while trying to pack a few days' worth of necessities for all four of us plus the stuff They tell you to bring In Case of Emergency - important paperwork, cell phone, and so on, all the while babbling away on the phone to my boss, my mother, my husband, the exterminator. You know, all the really important people in my life.

Somehow I ended up with a very organized-looking pile of bags and boxes near the door, ready to be loaded into the Jeep. The whole time, I'm wandering around thinking, "This is ridiculous. We are not going to get flooded out here. There's no RIVER here." But (1) there's a river a half-mile away that was already flooding, (2) my bigger concern was not being able to get to a grocery store or a hospital because the roads in between me and them were no more, and (3) the police called my house to tell me to evacuate. HOW many times did I cluck my tongue and wag my head judgmentally at the TV back in the fall, thinking about all those poor idiots in New Orleans who received evacuation orders and chose to ignore them? Well, honestly, none. But I did it inside my head, so that counts a little.

So I got everything ready, and just as I was about to do a final run-through, Emily decided to help me out by skipping down the hallway, tripping over the coffee table, and stubbing her ring-toe hard enough to bleed. Her subsequent freak-out (I keep forgetting to check, has anyone REALLY died from toe-stubbing?) woke Jacob, who decided that now was a good time to practice his Barnacle Boy skills. Moments later, Willem got home and added to the sunshine and joy in the house by telling me all the reasons why it was stupid for us to evacuate and yet insisting that the kids and I pack up and head to New York early while he stayed home to protect the house. (Pardon me while I refrain from denigrating his manhood by asking for details and plans on that one.) It was just fun from all angles.

We decided to just get in the car and drive around a bit, figure out what was going on in town and whether we should get more panicked or go home and eat pizza. I called the special Flood Line and learned that our street had been downgraded from Mandatory Evacuation to It's a Pretty Okay Idea Evacuation, so we actually could return home without opening ourselves to mocking and censure from neighbors and law enforcement. Therefore, we went home and ate pizza.

This evening, we watched the evening news. The top 25 minutes of the 30-minute broadcast was devoted to the weather. If you had watched, you might understand why New Hampshire is not the sharpest crayon in the state-box. There were just not enough teeth and syllables to go around amongst those interviewees.

It really ended up being a lovely emergency, for us. Two thousand people in our town alone - and it's probably only got 25,000 or so overall - were evacuated, and the mandatory-evacution border is about 150 yards from my house. Lots of vicarious drama and dramatic news footage of big fat swollen rivers - but not a drop in my house. If only the ice cream truck was running, it would have been perfect.