This story was originally published by CircleofBlue.org. Yeager-Kozacek is a Maple City, Michigan, native who currently lives in Enterprise, Alabama.
Hurricane Isaac produced a 2-to-3-meter (6-to-10-foot) storm surge and dropped more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain where it hit land near New Orleans last week. In an important post-Katrina test, the city’s new $US 14.5 billion system of beefed-up levees, flood gates, and pumps kept residents (relatively) dry. Hundreds of homes outside of the protected area faced flooding, however, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has called for an extension of the levee system.
In Alabama, we were barely tickled by the storm: a few days of heavy rain and a number of tornado warnings were the extent of my hurricane experience, for which I am grateful. (You can read about how my husband and I prepared before the storm here.) There were some flash-flood warnings in our area as well, but the lights stayed on and so did the water — two resources so readily available in the U.S. that it is easy to forget how quickly they can be taken away.
Unfortunately, much of the thirsty Midwest missed out on the hurricane, too. Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana received between five and 15 centimeters (two to six inches) of rain from the storm, easing the hold of one of the worst droughts in U.S. history, but Iowa and the Plains states are still parched, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. The area under “exceptional drought,” the highest level assigned by the Drought Monitor, expanded into northwest Iowa, southeast South Dakota, west and northeast Nebraska, and northwest Kansas.
Preparing for Isaac Means Hoarding Water
Growing up in Northern Michigan, piles of snow, icy roads, and short-term power outages were the closest I ever came to experiencing the wrath of nature. Blizzards like the one that hit Michigan in March this year — which shut off power at my parents’ house for a full week after the region received 70 centimeters (27 inches) of snow in about 18 hours — can indeed be dangerous. But, as a kid, they just meant schools were closed for “snow days” filled with sledding and fort building.
Now an adult living in southern Alabama, I have a new perspective on storms — but instead of snow, now it’s Tropical Storm Isaac that is currently churning its way toward the Gulf Coast. Isaac is expected to reach hurricane strength by the time it makes landfall near New Orleans this evening.
And at 770 kilometers (480 miles) across, the massive storm will bring a deluge of rain and battering winds to my corner of the South.
Too little water
For the past few days, everyone here has been scrambling to prepare, and our primary concern is water. Radio and television warnings urged us to buy gallons of it, and grocery store shelves have been stripped of bottled water since this past weekend. My husband has been busy filling any container we can find with tap water, just in case the power goes out.
Too Much Water
Flooding is also a major worry. The roads in my town fill up quickly, as I learned the last time we had severe thunderstorms. A nearby stream, which normally cannot be seen from the bridge that crosses it, spilled over its banks and flooded the surrounding forest for about a mile along one road, while other roads were simply closed because they were overrun with water.
So, while I am a good safe distance from any storm surge that Isaac may bring, I’m still planning to hunker down in the hopes that he will leave my home unscathed.