Hurricane Irene, Community Building, Asthma and Clean Air

BY ON September 7, 2011
Orange clouds in Connecticut sky

Photo Credit: Abbie Walston


Here in Connecticut, we spent the past week recovering from Hurricane Irene. I felt prepared for the hurricane, having accomplished a list of to-dos to survive the projected week without electricity, which means no water since we have a well. Though all our family and friends lost power, we surprisingly did not, and so we offered up our home to our loved ones who needed a hot meal, a cold drink, a warm shower or a cool afternoon in the air conditioning. My husband and I felt very lucky to have power and to be able to share with those we care about the most. We did lose internet, phone service and cable TV. That was a small loss, even for this self-professed internet addict. The storm hit Connecticut hard, and even now, a week later, some of my neighbors, my in-laws, and my husband’s business do not have electricity.

I’m no stranger to doomer, peak oil, long emergency, food storage, zombie apocalypse blogs. Three years in the green blogging world have given me quite a background in what to do when the power is out for a while. But still, I worry about my community. There’s a lot of cleanup work going on, and I worry that without running water people will not drink enough in this hot weather. I worry that people won’t be able to provide nutritious meals for their children without refrigeration and a means to cook. I worry that people are uncomfortable, thirsty, hungry, impatient and tired. But I also worry about the air.

While driving into work the other day, carefully maneuvering around leaning trees and downed power lines, I listened to the radio and one caller helped me see the connection between the hurricane and air quality. The caller stated that she had two young children and an elderly mother in her care. She went on to say how it’s difficult to meet the needs of those she cares for without water or power, but that it is even more difficult because she has asthma. Without electricity she’s unable to use her nebulizer for treatment. It’s been hot, people have been running generators in neighborhoods which release exhaust, and pollen counts have been high. All of these factors contribute to the aggravation of asthma. So now I’m worrying about people with breathing difficulties and the people they care for. I wish I could do more to help.

In times like this, I tend to think only in the short-term: what to do and how to help until power comes back on. We can offer to help, give food or time or money. We can check on people who are without power. We can open our homes to those who were hit harder by the storm. But in the long-term, we can get involved in our community and help to improve air quality. This week has only strengthened my understanding of how everything connects to clean air. Every action, every weather event, every health issue. We are made, in part, of the air that we breathe, and when we have trouble breathing, we have trouble doing everything else.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force in our fight to provide clean, safe air for our children’s future.

TOPICS: Asthma, Pollution