Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene or How Many Firsts Can We Have in One Week?

The earthquake at the beginning of the week seemed to distract all of us from the looming threat of Hurricane Irene.  But on Friday, it was time to start making plans to prepare Zoe to meet Irene.  We didn't particularly WANT to meet her but it didn't look like we would have a choice.

Knowing that the women who own The Christmas Attic across the street have been here for years, I called them to see if they had any suggestions for my hurricane plan.  Cheri, one of the co-owners, said I should be in good shape being up high off the ground and that they had not had any issues with flying debris.  She did say the biggest problem may be the loss of power since our power is controlled at a box even closer to the river than we are!

After our conversation, I started making a list of things "to do"(an impromptu disaster recovery plan).  I decided to take my paper files home on Friday night.  I also decided to pick up some sandbags for Zoe's door at the corner of King and Lee (more to come on that little event).  I would move the mannequins and the clothing from the front third of the store out of harms way.  I would unplug my Point of Sale computer, box it and move it to the back of the store off the ground.  And I would bring some towels in to put against the inside of the door.

After I closed on Friday, I pulled the car up and loaded the paper files and the cardboard boxes to take home for recycling.  I then made my way to King and Lee for my 5 sandbags (an earlier truck that had pulled up there had been completely emptied).  As you know from my earlier post on the "sandbag carry", it is not my forte.  And it was hot and humid.  So, of course, Channel 7 news comes up to interview me.  Here I am looking like a hot mess and they are asking me questions.  I have not been brave enough to ever look to see if I made it to the news.  This might be one of those times that any publicity is NOT good publicity!

Saturday morning dawned grey and gloomy.  I had Jim unload the sandbags and put them just inside the door at the store.  I didn't want them outside getting wet (before it was necessary) because I knew it would be even more difficult to lift them!  Before time for the store to open, it had already started to rain.

Although the streets were quiet the first part of the morning, more and more people started to get out as the day went on.  Some were curious, some were already getting cabin fever, and some wanted to get that last Starbucks before they had to settle in for the storm!  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who stopped in to see me (and my lovely neighborhood customers who stopped in to make sure I was going to be ok).  

One neighborhood family stopped in to look around and the youngest daughter (at first) was very angry that her mother and older sister were trying things on.  Then she found the toy basket and drew this lovely picture for me.

When it came time to leave, they had to drag her out of the store.  And I got a nice picture out of it!

Later in the afternoon, the rain started to come down harder and the winds picked up.  At 4:40 pm when I saw that the Transportation and Environmental Services people blocking off Prince Street, I knew it was probably time to call it a day.  For the first time since I opened the store, I closed the store early (at 5 pm, rather than 6 pm).  After taking care of all of the disaster recovery items mentioned above, I called Jim to pick me up.  I moved the sandbags outside the door, set the store alarm, locked up and carefully piled my sandbags in front of the door (not so much from a worry of flooding but instead to keep water from blowing under the door).

Obviously, Saturday night into Sunday, I was anxious.  I felt good that I had done the right things but it was completely out of my hands at that point.  I was eager to get to the store Sunday to see if everything was ok.  The early reports coming from the Alexandria Government and Journalists that I follow on Twitter sounded very positive.  I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the store to have no damage AND to have power!  It didn't take long to get things put back together again and I was ready to open for business as usual.  

So many people (close by and far away) called and emailed to check on me and Zoe.  It was so greatly appreciated and I was so happy to have good news to share!  So thankful that Irene was a non-event for Zoe.


  1. Susan, so glad everything is okay. We were watching the news this past weekend while we were in AR and saw a view of Alexandria and a white window w/ bags around the bottom. There looked to be more than five and they would have been on the Union street side if it was your place. Looking back at your blog post and pics of the store, I'm sad to report, I don't think it was Zoe's but I was excited to see that the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been either way. I'll just have to come see it and shop for myself one day!

  2. Valerie, thanks so much for thinking of me and Zoe. It was probably at the Starbucks at the corner of King and Union - they are about a block away from me and always seem to get some of the worst flooding! I've been amazed by the people from all over the US who saw Old Town on the news and contacted me! We were quite the center of attention for a few days! Would love to have you visit us any time!

  3. So glad you came through everything ok!

  4. Thanks, Juice. I feel so fortunate!