It’s a drill we’re not unfamiliar with in the greater Washington, D.C. area: stock up on batteries, sweep outside drains clear, add a few bottles of water to the grocery cart, just in case. Yesterday, I did all of those things plus buy ingredients for meals that can be prepared on my gas stove, let our portable generator run for a few minutes, and take the pirate flag down from the kids’ treehouse. Tomorrow, the deck furniture and outside trash bins will go into the garage and I’ll send somebody out on a ladder to scoop any errant tree litter out of the gutters.

Photo credit: National Weather Service
Photo credit: National Weather Service

Hurricane’s a comin,’ at least the news says (repeatedly and at increasing volumes) and we’re already being drenched by an unrelated nor’easter. We in the nation’s capital swear the power goes out when someone sneezes too hard, so incoming apocalyptic storms send us into a bit of a frenzy. We remember the week of misery after Isabel and we watched the aftermaths of Sandy and Katrina on television.

The power company that serves much of the District and suburban Maryland has developed a sadly well-deserved reputation for being unprepared for storms like the one bearing down on us now. That’s too bad, because every one of these storms is a great opportunity for them to reverse the trend and show us they know what they’re doing: Call in reinforcements ahead of time, staff up, and ensure their phones and online systems are ready for greater-than-average volume.

Here’s my question for you: Are you ready for Joaquin or another big event? Have you downloaded IPI’s free Emergency Preparedness Manual and developed your own emergency plan? If not, there’s no time like the present. Few things infuriate communities more than unprepared services (ask Pepco), and this is a relatively easy fix.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days next week, it’s because Joaquin got us and the power’s out. We’ll be playing board games and reading books by lantern and probably annoyed, but OK. We’re prepared.