Hurricane Irene: A Lesson For A Daughter and Advocate

Hurricane Irene roared through New England last weekend with rivers flooding and leaving over half a million without power.  One of those people is my 87 year old mother who lives in Rhode Island. Before the storm, I went through my hurricane checklist with her of cellphone, batteries, candles,water, nonperishable food and all prescriptions filled.  She assured me, she was ready and that all her friends and neighbors  were calling, asking if she needed anything.  She refused to come stay at my house.

Yesterday, I went to check on her.  My visit became an eye opener as a daughter and advocate.  Her cellphone was so old it had would not keep a charge and the landline was down.  She had only a few small candles that gave off  a small amount of light and melted fast.  She had a small flashlight and no battery guide lights.  She commented how dark it was at night and difficult to see.  She had no radio and was cut off from what was happening outside.  I could tell she was anxious.

Luckily, her neighbors have been by to check on her . They have brought her hot water for tea and cleared her yard of fallen branches.  Another friend  brought over a cellphone for her to use. Her food supply was low and she couldn’t cook because her stove was electric.  The refrigerator was off and food was spoiling.  The local market was open for dry goods only.

I realized I had not been specific enough with my mother.  Here is my new list .        Hurricane battery operated light-it gives off a bright light.                                                Medium size flashlights with extra batteries.  If possible, two flashlights with one by the bed.  Check that the correct battery size has been purchased.                                  Halogen battery lights on the wall near the floor to be a guide at night.                          Battery operated radio – decrease the sense of isolation.                                                      Bottled water – my mother just didn’t think she needed it.                                                   Food – create a list of favorite nonperishable foods and make sure it is in the home.    Cellphone with charged battery – there is available at CVS a battery cellphone charger. Have 911 on speed dial.                                                                                                  Check medical alert button works – I discovered my mother’s alert button worked off the wireless.  Not a good system.                                                                                                  Medications are not running out – refill if needed a few days early.  If insurance is stubborn, pharmacies will often give a few days supply to refill approved.

My mother lives in a small town.  Next time, I will contact the fire department and senior citizens center that my mother is alone.  It is just a precaution and if I have to call they will know who I am.  All my mother’s friends have my numbers and call me if they can’t reach her.

She wouldn’t come home with me but did say if the outage continues, she may give me a call.  I am hoping next time, she will be more willing to stay with me. I have my new list and will be making sure she has all the items and my senior clients.