As Hurrisnowmafrankenmegastormcane Sandy bears down on the Eastern Seaboard, there's plenty we can do to prepare ourselves, but what about those loved ones, especially parents, who live in non-storm-threatened places who will of course watch the doomsaying news and figure we'll all soon be struggling to survive The Day After Tomorrow? How can we stop them from worrying (while we ourselves try to ward off our own quickly mounting panic)? Here are some tips.
Tell them weathermen are crazy anyway. What do these so-called meteorologists know anyway? Sure your mom is watching some CNN weatherman draped in a cloak and reading from the Book of Revelations right now, but they're really just ginning this up for ratings. That's how they do things on TV. Find some obscure link to an armchair weather watcher who says that this whole thing is being completely overblown and hope that soothes mom's anxiety. Of course you too are glued to the CNN guy, who is now drafting his last will and testament on live television while weepily telling Soledad O'Brien he loves her because "If not now, at the end, when?" But that's for you to freak out about, not your mom.
Pretend you know how to work your fuse box. "Oh yeah, I've got all the necessary tools and stuff and if the power goes out I'll just go down to the basement and flip the switch things, the circuit things, and plus I have all these candles, um the kind that can't start fires, and oh I totally planned ahead like you said I should and packed a go-bag. Tape for the windows? Way ahead of you, I've got, uh, that special storm tape they, just 'they' I don't know who exactly, say you should use. So everything's fine here. Oh that noise? Nope that wasn't the screen door flapping around like crazy, I totally took that right down after Labor Day, like you told me to, because of heating bills or whatever. Yeah there's nothing to worry about here. We're all shored up. Water? Yup, just filled the Nalgene. I mean, like, all the Nalgenes. I kept all those ones you got me for the past six Christmases. Yup, got 'em right here next to the road flares and laminated map I totally put in my car when you said I should. Everything's good here."
It's just gonna miss me. Again, these weather things are unpredictable, so reassure your worrywart family member that you just so happen to live in one of those little pockets that's going to be spared. Sure that map of the storm's path looks like it basically is going to unload right on top of your house, but no, actually, if you look there's a little blank spot right there, see right where it says Monday AM? That's basically where you are, so you should be fine. You might get a little wind, sure, but this thing is gonna sail right past you, piece of cake. You're saying this, of course, while realizing that your house basically has a big target painted on the roof and you'll probably soon be taking a trip to Oz or at least the end of Take Shelter, but they don't need to know that.
Tell them you're safe as someone else's houses. Oh no, you're not going to be anywhere near the Danger Zone or anything like that. You've got a friend who lives in a big fortified house on a big tall hill somewhere and you're bringing flashlights and emergency rations and all of that. Nothing's gonna get you up there. You're absolutely not going to make a quick run to the liquor store and then go right back to your own apartment, which is basically a glorified lean-to, to watch the mayhem from the best, and most precarious, seat in the house. Nope, you've responsibly planned to get out of the way of this potentially catastrophic event. You're going to be at your friend's place, you know, your friend George. George Glass. Wait, no, not glass, uh, George Unbreakableplasticcomposite. Yeah, that's where you'll be.
Irene. Always Irene. The best way to calm a freaking-out person who's convinced that the East Coast will soon be only a memory is to remind them about last year's supposed big blow, Hurricane Irene. Yes Irene did do some damage, but for all the prophecies of doom and destruction, it was mostly just a lot of rain and bored people staring out their windows waiting for something worse to happen. Simply remind your parents or whoever else of this fact, that these things often do sputter into basically nothing, and that chances are that will happen this year too. That doesn't mean you should let your guard down, of course. You should absolutely be loading up your panic room or wherever you plan to wait this nightmare out, but for them? Just gently remind them that they were all panicked during Irene and that old girl didn't leave much of a mark. Unless, of course, you live in Vermont. Hm. Maybe they're right to worry after all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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