Informed and prepared

09/02/2010 12:00 AM |

All summer long it’s been the place to be. But we may soon experience firsthand the downside of living at the end of an island, long in name and shape, jutting defiantly out into the Atlantic.

By Wednesday afternoon, meteorologists were saying Hurricane Earl should swing by east of us, but close enough to remind us what a tropical storm is like — but there was still a chance it could make landfall somewhere hereabouts. That would not be the best way to start the Labor Day holiday, but it is the season for such possibilities.

For years now, those in the know have said we’re way overdue for the next “big one.” The 70th anniversary of the last really big one, the Hurricane of SSRq38, passed uneventfully two years ago. Katrina’s assault on the Gulf Coast came three years earlier, but many assume that kind of disaster could never happen here.

Whatever Earl brings, this is an opportunity to test the region’s preparedness and to remember that it really is a good idea to store extra batteries, bottled water and such. Even if a “big one” doesn’t come along for a while, a not so big one can still mean inconvenience if not real trouble.

Back in SSRq38, plunging barometric pressure readings provided the only clue that the “big one” was coming. Now we can follow storms as they form off the African coast, cross the ocean, swing by the Caribbean and bear down on the Eastern Seaboard. None of us, utilities, local government or residents, has an excuse for being caught off guard.