With many warnings of El Niño weather for our area given in advance of its arrival, I was well prepared in my home and garden. Since the first wave of storms was milder than the onslaught of mudslides and floods I created in my imagination, I found myself appreciating momentary views of the rain from my window, and I reveled in my garden’s temporary reprieve from the drought. Perhaps, I thought, the seeds I planted in my garden will have a chance this year and the garden floor will be covered with colorful annual flowers in the spring.
With round one done, I took an inventory of the gaps in my initial El Niño preparations and I focused on my next steps.
Car Maintenance: I am quite diligent about car maintenance. As I was driving to work on the first day of the rains, I worried about the wiper streaks I saw on my windshield, which led me to wonder when I last replaced them. Since I keep my maintenance records, I easily put my mind at ease by reviewing them. As I have done with my home, I will double-check my car’s preparedness. I know there are certain things I can check myself, such as windshield wipers and lights. It’s also a good time to check the batteries for the flashlight and other emergency kit items I store in my car.
Pets/Dogs: Despite my preparations, I forgot to consider the needs of my two dogs. Each dog reacted differently during the storm’s most intense episodes. My beagle was visibly stressed about the weather. When a downpour hit heavily on our roof with a percussive echoing heard through the house, she sought in panic for a place to hide. I read pet experts’ tips for managing this behavior of fear but I’ve tried them before without success for my beagle. In comparison, my other dog was calm about the rain. His issue was the interruptions to his daily walks. I had to get creative about indoor exercise for him, and luckily was able to coax him into running laps around the house.
Neighbor Assistance: I had not considered talking to my neighbors about El Niño emergencies while I am at work or away—and likewise for them. I know most of my immediate neighbors well enough to share with them contact information and the preparations we made for our home. With the latter, I think it would be fun to exchange tips with my neighbors on storm preparedness and learn from each other. In the spring, we can throw a garden party to celebrate getting through the storm together. How neighborly is that!