Hurricane Prep for Island OCDers

Written by: ANGE DOVEL

Living on a rock whose highest elevation is toe level to dear Mother Ocean, I take storms on the radar very seriously. So seriously that when a named storm rolls in our direction, the Weather Channel on the tele replaces my favourite easy-listening station on Alexa, and my most frequented bookmark screen on the computer turns into a kaleidoscope of colourful pictures of the upcoming storm and its pink spaghetti pathways as I frantically visit every weather website available on the world wide web.
Ok, so we are now in the dreaded “CONE”. Any islander will know the angst of looking at a storm tracking site and seeing one’s little dot of a rock buried within that treacherous elongated red balloon that represents a storm’s projected path across the Caribbean basin. Time to get busy.
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Storm prep begins. For a normal island dweller, this is an anxious time. For one with OCD tendencies like me, this is a ramped up, gut-wrenching time of utter madness.
First things first. The dry bags come out of their hidey hole. Then comes the nail-biting stage of choosing My Most Valuable Items. Sentimental Me runs circles around Practical Me. Photo albums or computer? Do I really want my old diaries from twenty years ago? They are just rants and rages, but as memory fades with wine and old age, will I need them to have any sort of recollection of my early errant years? Do I have the last VHS player on the planet (won’t fit in the dry bag) or if I take these VHS tapes will it be a waste of space as I will never be able to play them again due to the lack of outdated technology? First aid kit vs my driftwood sculptures?? Aargh, decisions, decisions!
Then comes alcohol inventory. The thought of riding out a storm and the aftermath without sufficient alcohol reserves is utterly unacceptable. Careful math must be done, taking into account normal consumption, then adding in the factor of severe stress, voluntary self-sedation, and the undetermined duration of lockdown. Bottles must be counted as well as frank assessments made of whether or not dusty discards such as that bottle of absinthe would actually become a palatable option should worse come to worse. Eh, if the end of the world is nigh, perhaps absinthe and cooking sherry will be highly cherished at such times of destitution.
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Next comes securing anything outside that could possibly morph into 100 mph projectiles in hurricane conditions. Everything not attached to the ground by concrete or a root system is scrutinized with a highly suspicious eye. Innocent lawn ornaments are envisioned as decapitating missiles, if (heaven forbid) we were to have to evacuate mid-storm. Beach picnic tables and chairs are hauled inside and evening cocktails will now have to be with rumps in the sand, because I CANNOT leave storm prep to the last minute. Every piece of wood or plank (and there are A LOT of these hanging around since hubby’s favourite hobby is carpentry) has to be safely stashed. My beloved porch sea garden must be taken apart. Each shell, piece of sea glass, coral, driftwood, and sea fan, so meticulously and lovingly positioned, must go into the box and gym room, never to find the same perfect placement again. I even anticipate the epic rising water of a storm surge, and despite the fact that our bungalow is set high on concrete stilts, I have watched too many Hollywood versions of what can happen to those that do not think of everything in a storm. So in our bedroom loft, amongst all the candles and Zen, is a chain saw to chop thru the ceiling, just in case.
Last is thinking of Everything possibly needed for the safety of our beloved pets. Emotional weigh in must be made on how much attachment I actually have for Quanah Parker,  the rooster that, on a daily basis, tries to impale me with his spurs. Hum. Well, I still love him and the rest of the feathered knuckleheads. So that means sheets have to go over all the boats and jet skis in the garage, which will become their storm shelter for who knows how long. I cannot cover everything, so I just pray that chicken poo does not have the same ability to become one with a trailer wheel fender as it seems to do with the wooden roosts in the chicken house. I then have a serious debate with myself over the feasibility of capturing Rex the curly tail lizard that lives in my sea garden… would the stress kill him or will high water, especially since I have just now stripped him of his comfy home? Does he have an innate ability in his ancient reptilian brain to figure how to survive a hurricane? I should get some sand and put some holes in the tupperware just in case. The dilemma of only one doggie life jacket, and having three dogs and two rescued puppies sends me into a wretched guilt trip of disaster imagined. Who gets the life jacket? Who gets to swim for it? Pups are too small to swim! Can I successfully float a cooler full of pups across a raging sea if I had to?? All of these images drag through my tortured mind… time for wine and the two o’clock storm update.
So now the storm is going to miss us. Though my heart goes out to those now placed in it’s revised route, I am beyond relieved that we are no longer in its path of destruction. More wine to celebrate as my husband mutters and grumbles that he cannot find a damn thing because his OCD wife has stashed everything movable somewhere and due to the aforementioned wine and memory loss, is not completely sure of the location of any of it anymore…
*click for image credit

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Ange Dovel

About Ange Dovel

Ange grew up in Nassau and has lived most of her life in the mostly sunny Bahamas, with a short, somewhat bewildering detour to a Canada as a teenager. As soon as she reached an age of autonomy, she skipped out of that winter wonderland and headed back to her island home.

Swimsuit fashion shows and mixing cocktails led to some memorable adventures on the rock as a young adult. Maturing into a slightly more responsible woman, she started working with dolphins as a trainer, then a medley of critters such as meerkats, lemurs, boas, and flamingos at the local zoo.

Somehow, The Fates led her Texan husband and her to care-taking a small, private island in the Abacos. Moving from a rock to a pebble was actually a bigger adjustment than she expected. Social interaction, such as wining and dining and getting together with the girls, had been a vital element of island life in Nassau. This has since wound down to a quiet glass of wine (or three) on the porch for sunsets, just she and her husband. Dining is a daily struggle to achieve creative culinary genius when every meal, every day, three times a day has to be made by one of the two of them. Since hubby doesn't speak Girl Talk, one way chit chats with her potcakes, chickens, and the tame curly tails on her porch has become a tepid replacement for time with her gal pals.

But the life of a hermit is one she loves and although their human visitors are few and far between, their home is Grand Central Station for pelicans, pilchers, lemon sharks, and the occasional mama turtle, looking for a safe place to stash her eggs. Even an orphaned raccoon by the name of Wally spent some unforgettable months with them (thankfully not at the same time as the turtle eggs). Currently, their fur/feathered family on the rock consists of three potcakes, seventeen chickens, and a revolving door of foster puppies rescued from the little fishing towns of Abaco.

Between cay duties, she spends her free time on a rescue organization they started called, North Abaco Potcake Rescue. She is currently co-producing a documentary highlighting these rescues called, "It's a Potcake Life!" with Vaccaro Creative Productions. The rest of her free time is spent traversing the cay from one end to the other, from chicken coop to puppy pen, as bearer of meals, love, and the aforementioned riveting island sip sip.

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Abaco, Bahamas

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 1969

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: Nassau, Bahamas

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22 thoughts on “Hurricane Prep for Island OCDers

  1. Hi Ange! I was chatting with your husband the other night at the BHS event & I know we have quite a few mutual friends. My husband Mark and I own an undeveloped island with the same name as the island you manage, but ours is in Andros. I always wondered who was involved with the Abaco version 🙂 Glad to see another Bahamas contributor on WWLOR! Stay safe during this storm!!

    • Hey there! We do! Sara and Nige are some of our favourite peeps! Yes I remember Mark talking about his Bonefish Cay! Small rock world for sure! I love your posts BTW! You all stay safe too!

  2. TY and be safe “rocker”. I’m preparing for the storm stateside in Florida, Palm Beach County actually.
    I think we’re all set. Water, beer, wine, vodka, candles, flashlight

    • Hi there! I hope you are all ok! We made it thru with minimal damage and my wine supply is not completely gone thankfully! But the storm is looping back at us so THAT is not good news! Even my OCD did not factor that in!

  3. Great article! Gotta get to my map and see exactly where you guys are…sounds really nice! Glad it’s going to miss you guys, but looks like others may not be so fortunate. We recently went through Earl here in Belize….quite the experience and he wasn’t that bad. Stay safe!

      • Nassau got it bad, lots of flooding and property damage, trees down but have not heard of any fatalities that is something to be grateful for.. Our cay was 90miles from the center at it’s closest passing so we did ok..

    • Hey there, yes we are a reallyyy wee little dot in the sea! 🙂 The hurricane is now north of us we were lucky not to get a direct hit, our capital Nassau is a wreck though.. I saw your posts (I think it was yours anyway) it was so sad to see all that wreckage.. but was heartening to hear of the people coming together to help each other.. I hope this happens in our little isles of the Bahamas.. they will need to..

  4. I love your last line. I think your great sense of humor must be and have always been a great help to making you see the humor of island life –as well as life itself!

    I think you must be an “older person” ( like me, but probably not as old). Maybe one day you might consider writing a piece about “Senor Citizen” on islands. ( I am75, though, of course, everyone says I look 50.Ha!). I have noticed that those wrinkles which I sometimes see and sometimes don’t notice when I look in the mirror, depending on which eye has had the cataract removed, the angle of light and so forth,that these “differences” on my aging face from my 50 year old face–when I had NONE, might be one reason people here are nice to me these days. Or –since people have never been “not nice” on this rock, maybe my less hurried and more tolerant life is helping me see more clearly after all…

    • Thank you! Yes we have to have a laugh or can go cuckoo right!? 🙂 Hee I love that island life can take a quarter century off ya! And certainly sounds like you are a riot with your humour! 🙂

  5. As a Long Islander, I see your behavior totally normal. Positive thoughts to you today and tomorrow……enjoy ALL the alcohol.

    • We were so lucky with Matthew but not all the isles fared so well.. will be waiting a wee bit to put it back as the storm is forecasted to loop back around at us!! Not sure how to stretch the wine.. might be breaking into the less palatable reserves… 🙂

  6. So glad to hear that the Abacos will be spared by Matthew! We had the wonderful pleasure of visiting last month while our son was working at Sunsail/Moorings at Marsh Harbour. We met some lovely people and sailed around some of the cays. I just saw a trailer on facebook of your documentary and look forward to seeing the completed version. My husband and I both volunteer for Potcake Place on Providenciales, TCI and appreciate your dedication to the Potcakes in the Abacos. I can totally relate to your hurricane preparation as we just recently went through it as well, luckily we were spared. You never want to underestimate the quantity of alcohol needed during a storm! Stay safe.

    • We certainly were so so lucky.. I have not heard all the reports of damage from the storm but we are OK up here North Abaco so hopefully south was spared serious damage too! Oh what a lovely way to see the Abacos! SO happy you are going to see the movie!! It is featuring today at the ITVfest we are so excited! Love that you volunteer there, such an amazing place!! Oh I think I might have underestimated eek! 🙂

  7. So relate to these type of preparations! Glad the brunt missed you. Thinking of our island neighbors in Bermuda today. Stay safe and hopefully these last couple of weeks of the season will be uneventful.

    • Hi Patti this is a bit late, but hope all went well with your place too.. quite relieved winter is here and we can commence with opening up all the houses and enjoy the cool! Looking forward to your next piece! 🙂

  8. ha! The alcohol inventory! As soon as our schools got cancelled in DR for Hurricane Matthew, I asked my neighbor if she would watch my kids for 20 minutes to make a “quick run” for a few things..nNamely, wine, cheese, and salami. LOL

  9. I am so like you, have prepared for many storms which never hit our island, but better save then sorry. Tortola had not had a serious hurricane for a long time before Hugo and my neighbors were politely smiling when I started preparing. Most of them did join me in the last few hours. After 39 years in the islands I am still the first one to button down the place. Being right on the ocean therefore sea-level doesn’t help my anxiety.

    • Oops just seeing this! Yes I was getting that same frigid “OMG she has lost her mind” smile from the hubby 🙂 darn tooting better safe then sorry! About the same amount of years of island life for me too and yup the Hurricane angst doesn’t dissipate with time!

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