Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Irene Weekend

Irene was my first hurricane. As a mom, I kept a worried eye on the news and went over the “keep safe” checklist, over and over again. As a writer, and a crazyperson, I was a bit excited. It’s like scaling a top mountain peek, or finishing a novel. Even as the “responsible mom” me boiled eggs (way too many), baked potatoes and counted cans of veggies, that other me prepared my special “descriptive” notebook, and got ready to jot down the details as Irene barreled down toward the Jersey Shore. Toward us.

I was doing well at first. After I took my dog for that last pre-hurricane walk in the first rain, I wrote about the neighbors fussing around with their cars, men nailing their doors shut, some of them. I wrote about the strangely hushed street, except for the whoosh of the gathering wind, and the sounds of dogs barking behind closed doors.

But for the rest of the weekend, I found myself putting that notebook aside. With CNN and News 12 New Jersey screaming warnings in the background, Saturday mostly became about my family– just waiting, waiting, waiting together as we painted (we painted houses and hurricanes), played Barbies and later received the first terrifying warning of a tornado in our area (a tornado that, thankfully, never did pass). We barricaded the windows of our living room with our couch and set three mattresses on the floor, where the five of us — two adults, two kids and the dog — slept together. We agreed that if we heard a terrible tornado-like roar, or a great whistle, or a crash, we’d run to the laundry room — maybe the sturdiest place in the house. We told our daughter to stop crying, because all that mattered was that she was with us, and that we would do everything to keep her safe.

“Will anyone die during the night?” my daughter asked me.

By then I knew there were several victims from this hurricane already, so I couldn’t outright tell her “no.” (I am not always good with such white lies — the lies we say to our kids to protect them). I said firmly, “No one you know will die.” It was more of a hope than a promise, still, it was good enough for her.

We were all tired out from all that waiting, and the news, and the warnings, so we were ready to sleep. Still sometimes I woke up, listening. The writer and the mom, waiting to hear the screaming of the approaching tornado. What would is sound like? Will the “barricade” hold long enough for us to make it into the laundry room?

But I didn’t hear anything special. Just the rain pummeling at our roof and our windows. The wind, now whistling fiercely, then just as suddenly hushing, bringing in utter quiet, as though Irene was making fun of all the fuss we have made about her. I fell into a dream to the sound of my family sleeping, my daughter’s hand clutched tight in mine.

In the morning, I woke up a little disappointed that I didn’t get to capture more exciting details. Mostly, I woke up grateful, for the brightening sky outside the kitchen window, grateful to be here.


August 28, 2011 - Posted by | Personal Mirror | , , ,


  1. Wow, great re-cap! I really enjoyed reading this and glad all are safe. This was not my first hurricanem but the first time I faced one with a child and to me it was much less exciting. All I could think of was keeping my baby girl safe!

    Comment by Debbie | August 28, 2011 | Reply

    • I know exactly what you mean, Debbie. Aren’t you glad it’s over? Hope “the baby” faired well through it all!! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | August 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. You may have put the notebook aside, yet you managed to write a wonderfully descriptive piece about the hurricane anyway 🙂

    I’m so glad you’re all safe.

    Comment by Sarah Pearson | August 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you so much, Sarah. Blush, blush 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | August 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience, Katia. Your children are lucky to have such a hopeful, nurturing mom who is prone to truth-telling. It IS hard to be fully present as both observer and participant, though, isn’t it?

    I am so glad you are safe and sound!

    Comment by Joyce Hostetter | August 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, Joyce. Thanks for getting it! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | August 29, 2011 | Reply

  4. Glad you made it through! Thanks for sharing your experience – and your honesty about those crazy writer-instincts! Now I know I’m not the only one…

    Comment by Ishta Mercurio | August 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Lol, Ishta, and thank you. I am glad there are other crazy writers out there who understand!

      Comment by Katia Raina | August 29, 2011 | Reply

  5. […] Weekend,” some hurricane reflections from Katia Raina, a YA author, former journalist, and freelance writer –… (I’ll be adding to this list as I receive links. If you’d like to be included, just […]

    Pingback by Created in the Path of Irene: Links | August 29, 2011 | Reply

  6. I’ve been through several hurricanes, and it is nerve-wracking. I’m glad Irene wasn’t as powerful as forecasted.

    And tornado warnings on top of that. Yikes.

    Now that it’s out of the way, I hope you have a great week.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | August 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, Medeia, you too. Glad you guys didn’t have to worry much about this one, for a change 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | August 30, 2011 | Reply

  7. Glad you survived Hurricane Irene. I did too! We had tornado warnings here in Pennsylvania also, and again, thankfully, they didn’t materialize. Still, storms of any magnitude are scary. I just posted aftermath photos on my blog.

    We lost power for three and a half days! It was frustrating. At first, peanut butter on crackers by candlelight is romantic, but after a few meals, it’s tiresome.

    And I just learned today that the next hurricane is named KATIA!

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | September 1, 2011 | Reply

    • I’ve visited your blog before I even saw this comment! See my comment there about writing and surviving Irene 🙂
      I am feeling for you, Joanne, as we had it so much easier. As for my name sake, she better stay away from our backyards, or it’ll be a showdown of great magnitude! Katia vs. Katia . . . Oy! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | September 1, 2011 | Reply

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