Hurricane Earl is set on a path for the U.S., currently projected to head up north to lower New England and potentially could maintain its hurricane strength while doing so. As someone who has experienced major hurricanes firsthand—I experienced the eye of Hurricane Andrew in Miami in 1992, and the pre-New Orleans effects of Hurricane Katrina—I have seen how difficult hurricanes can be. The emotional and physical damage is real (during Andrew, we lost all of our shingles, our roof caved in, our porch blew away, and I wound up a traumatized elementary school kid).
Without minimizing the crouching-in-a-bathtub-while-your-house-pirouettes-around-you effect, it’s important to remember how expensive storm damage can be, and how helpful it is to take preventive measures. Even though Earl doesn’t look like it’s going to pull any category 5 wizardry on the Northeast, consider Katrina’s effect on my childhood home: It was only category 1 or 2 when it hit, but our roof leaked so terribly that we had to use our generator to run the dryer in order to produce more towels to stop up the water—we’d used every single towel in the house. The same thing happened to all our neighbors, because all of our roofs were exactly 13 years old, since they’d all last been replaced after Andrew. Preventive measures like customized shutters are extremely expensive, but, after the stories I’ve heard, I wouldn’t put my trust in ply board.
Bottom line: Prevention is expensive, but cleanup is even more expensive. The Northeast isn’t used to hurricanes, but if you’re looking for someone to tell you about stocking up on bottled water, just ask the Miami girl in me.