Monday, August 29, 2011

Shelter From the Storm

"If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds and that old north wind should begin to blow." -James Taylor

My daughter will only know how terrified I was of Hurricane Irene if she reads this post one day.

Terri. Fied.

Why? Because I just didn't know. I didn't know if I took all of the necessary precautions and stocked up on all of the necessary supplies. I didn't know if I was making the right decisions.

I didn't know if I could do it without my wife.

She had to work this weekend. This was move-in weekend at the college where she works and it's her event. She had to make sure everything went smoothly. Make sure everyone was safe.

But what about us?

I protested. I guilt-tripped her. I told her she was putting herself in harm's way by staying in the city, which was expecting a direct hit from the storm. I said her bosses were being stubborn. I laid it on thick.

She told me, "I have two words for you: nine eleven."

She was right. When 9/11 happened I was gone for nearly a week. I stayed in the city. I put myself in harm's way. We were on high alert. My station was a block from the United Nations, a potential target.

So I relented. I knew where she wanted to be. The same place where I wanted her to be.

Still terrified at the thought of enduring a hurricane alone with the Peanut, I thought about driving her west to my in-laws, dropping her off, then turning around to stay with the house. I thought they might not get it as bad. (Turns out they lost power and we didn't).

I imagined hugging her goodbye, knowing what was ahead of us, and I nearly broke down. The thought of abandoning her like that just broke my heart. Even though she would not have seen it that way. She would have loved staying at her grandparents' house.

No... we'd ride it out together. I'd put on my brave face. I'd pray. A lot. I'd think about my parents. How the hell did they seem so calm during Hurricane Gloria in 1985? Or were they filled with the same anxiety I was feeling now? Did I just not know it because they had put on a brave face?

Peanut hungry for pasta & chicken cutlets
Luckily, some friends were coming over to wait out the storm with us. So I told the Peanut it was going to be a party. We kept busy. We played games. We watched movies. I cooked two meals because apparently I cook when I'm nervous. We drank beer. (Not the Peanut.) Lots of beer.

As the storm picked up, whipping rain and wind against the house, we went through our normal bedtime routine. Potty. Brush teeth. Wash hands and face. Book. Silly shadows. Race down the hall. Kiss and hug goodnight. Brave face.

My biggest fear was something happening to the house, and Peanut freaking out. A power outage. Or worse... One of the many trees around our property crashing down. I woke up a few times during the night to check on everything. I looked out the windows, scanned the trees in the yard, checked on the Peanut, and inspected for possible Luna bombs on the living room carpet downstairs.
The little pump that could

The worst damage was about two inches of water in our basement. Annoying, but manageable. It took me all day to get it cleaned up since I had the Peanut all to myself at that point. One of my neighbor's kids came over for a couple of hours to play with her. Another one of my neighbors helped me locate a pump. Another one helped me get it running (see: Bad at fixing things).
That's a big freakin' tree

My neighbors were awesome. Many of them got it a lot worse than we did. That didn't stop them from being concerned and involved.

But the Peanut impressed me the most. She was amazing during this whole thing. I heard very few "I miss mommy" whines, relative to how long mommy was away. She went with the flow, just like any other weekend. At one point, after our neighbor's daughter had left and I was still working in the basement, she called to me. She said she had done poop on the potty and asked me to help her wipe. She went all by herself. No questions. No requests. Until she realized it was a bigger mess than she had anticipated. (Like me and the basement.)

I was so proud of her in that moment. And yet I felt a little guilty too. The circumstances made me unable to help her, but she saw that. And did it herself.

Maybe one day I will realize this was her gaining her independence. (Which is what we want.) I just wish we were having a day together. Playing and reading books and laughing... and then she did that on her own.

She did it out of necessity. I guess, so did I. I put on my brave face because I had to.

Luna greeted my wife's return
This experience reinforced something I already knew: My family is the most important thing in the world to me. More important than my job, or money, or blogging.

I love them so much I would punch a hurricane in the face to defend them. The reason I was so scared was because I wasn't sure I could protect them, despite my best efforts. Because something could have happened beyond my control.

That's why I prayed so much. That's why I had to put on a brave face. There's no one who will protect me now. I am the protector.

The storm came and went. We've cleaned up. And we're all together again, under the same roof.

Thankfully, that roof is intact. And so are we.

The Peanut was truly at her best during our time weathering the storm. Click here to read my favorite example of that.


  1. its the moments like those that you realize how strong you really are but how weak our love for our families make us

  2. What an amazing way to put it, CMo6. That isone of the most wonderful comments I've ever received. Thank you.

  3. Awe.... sweet...
    "punch a hurricane in the face" I like that.

  4. I so love that you would punch a hurricane the size of Europe in the head! Lovely post!

  5. Really enjoyed that. You can't control the uncontrollable, yet you did maintain. Sent this to my Dtr., who is also following. Keep up the fantastic work, and honesty, on this blog. So refreshing.
    And I'm also relieved Irene dropped to a Tropical for you folks.
    You've inspired me to revamp my blog.
    Thank you.

  6. All it takes is for us to act strong even we know we don't hold the power. The best thing you could have done for your daughter was act as if nothing was wrong. Making everything as normal as possible was best thing you could have done.

  7. It is so crazy how some wind can just take down a huge tree like that - makes you realize how strong Mother Nature really is! Glad you all are okay!


  8. Great post again mate, and glad you managed to keep the cool through the whole thing, i'm more thankful that nothing bad happened to you :)

  9. Good day,

    I'm studying a master in Digital Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and I'm writing you to ask for your permission to use the entry titled "Sheter From The Storm", published on August 29, 2011 on the blog DaddyKnwsLess (

    My graduation project is an interactive map of stories about hurricane Irene. It's intended to motivate people at risk of disasters (such as hurricanes) to start thinking what to do about them now, instead of waiting until they are about to happen, which most people do. The project will show a map with the trajectory of hurricane Irene, and different search criteria to access stories within the map. Those stories can be annotated with comments from other users different than the author's story, in a similar way a blog entry can be commented. In my system though, the intent is to purposefully direct the discussed topic on how to handle disasters taking each story as a starting point.

    One of my graduation requirements is to demo my project to my committee. For that purpose, I've built a database of blog-posts to fill in the system. I'd like to add your story to that database. I can provide an image of the interface if you want to have a better idea of what your story would look like if included in the system.

    If you grant me permission, your entry will be used exclusively for non-commercial and educational purposes while the project remains in its demo phase. If this project is ever used for other purposes different than a demo, your blog-entry will not be included.

    I'd really appreciate if you allowed me to use your experience from Hurricane Irene to make a better project, and potentially help other people in the future.


    PD. I've gained a lot by reading your blog. Thank you for writing it.


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