We know about waiting around for a storm surge on the Texas Gulf Coast. When a named storm comes into the Gulf of Mexico, the media goes into hyper-overdrive. The weather becomes the headline news, the mid-point news and the wrap-up news – and then the special edition extension to the news. Public Service Announcements drop into our conscientiousness like pollen off the oak trees in March. We add water, batteries, extra canned soup, alcohol, chips and salsa to our grocery lists — never toilet paper before, but this could be a new thing after COVID-19.
Then we sit and wait … and watch the news. As the colored storm trajectories and probabilities snake their way across the map, we make second level decisions about boarding up windows, tying down flying objects, and moving cars to higher ground. Some people gather for storm parties – admit it, you know you do! Life is up-ended. It feels exciting, a bit dangerous and there’s a thrill of a disruption to the daily grind.
Today we’re sitting around watching for another potential surge to hit our city. Houston is awaiting a surge in Coronavirus cases. We are warned to “expect lots of deaths” on the news. Is that for us too, or just New York? We’re not familiar with these new “flatten the curve” charts being flashed up on the screen. We don’t know how to assess the likelihood of damage.
We’ve done lots of the basic supplies prep, and are now making additional decisions around masks, gloves, and ordering groceries online. Our natural inclination to have a storm party is thwarted by the “Stay At Home” orders. What’s the point of all the chips and beer if you can’t share it with anyone?
When storms hit the coast, reporters stand ridiculously close to the waves on various piers and hotels near the ocean front. We watch and analyze and pour another drink. We post more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and try to eventually get to sleep, but with one ear open for rising wind and flying objects. It’s a short-lived happening. Within a day, or two your fate is sealed and the storm has fizzled out, and the reporters can get some sleep. And us too.
This Corona surge however, is stretching beyond our attention span on the Gulf Coast. We’ve been switching on the evening news for the latest “Breaking News” for over three weeks now. The front-line reporters are in hospitals, deserted streets, and interviewing distressed medical personnel via Facetime across the country. I notice that they don’t get as close to the COVID patients as they do to those storm waves.
Our social media feeds are getting clogged up with all manner of sharing challenges and chains on alternative topics. We’re not sleeping as well and starting to get cranky about people getting too close to us on walks.
How long is this going to take? First it was early April, then mid-April, now it’s April 30th. How will we know when it’s over and safe to step outside again? Is this “peak” they speak of rather like being in the eye of the storm? We keep tuning in to hopefully get answers.
I’m worried about our stamina for this. This is not your average storm surge. We can’t see the dropping pressure isobars over the Gulf. Do we have the endurance needed for such a long, drawn-out watch event? Especially each household going it alone. We’re not in training for this. We don’t have a frame of reference for this pending disaster.
There’s an expectation that the storm needs to either hit, or move on elsewhere. How long can we keep everyone penned in when they become immune to the media warnings? Something needs to happen soon, or I fear people are going to bust out.
Waiting and patience are not our strong suits. Do we have what it takes to ride out this storm?
There is a mounting restlessness “to saddle up and move ’em on out.”