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August 27th, 2011
07:22 PM ET

Letters to the President #950 'The feast of the storm'

Reporter's Note: The president continue watching the big storm system off the coast; just as I am sure he keeps watching for my daily letter to the Oval Office.

Dear Mr. President,

Here is a strange byproduct of big storms: They make me hungry.

Eight years ago when the last big hurricane swept over D.C. we lost electricity in our neighborhood. Which is no surprise. Our power company struggles with keeping the lights on any day that the wind blows, the humidity rises, or Elton John plays on a soft rock radio station. Seriously, they are awful.

We were plunged into darkness, with the humidity and heat in the storm’s wake rapidly rising. It was amusing for the first twenty minutes. Then annoying. Then it became uncomfortable.

The phone rang. Some friends from down the block. “Hey, we drove out to the beach in Delaware. We found a hotel with power and air-conditioning. The sun is shining. The water is fantastic. The kids won’t have school until the power is back on. Why don’t you come out?”

So we loaded everything we had in our rapidly warming freezer into an ice chest, along with all the dripping cubes we could assemble, and drove out to spend the next few days building sand castles, reclining in the sun, and eating like kings. Steaks, frozen lobster tails, shrimp, fish filets; all of the best treats we had been saving for special occasions went onto the grill in the hotel courtyard. Every meal was an absolute feast.

When we had consumed it all, and enjoyed as much of our impromptu holiday as we could stand, we checked out, packed up and drove home. And in a weird bit of kismet, about an hour and a half before we hit the driveway, the power came back on.

So forgive me if I keep looking into the freezer as we wait to see precisely what is going to happen with all this, but I have an eye on some Cajun burger patties in the back which will be the first thing pulled out if the power once again goes south.

Regards,

Tom


Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • T1
August 27th, 2011
01:22 AM ET

Video: AC361: Telling the story/Living the story

Editor's Note: AC361 takes you behind the scenes to show you how the staff covers the hurricane at CNN and prepares for it at home.


Filed under: AC361°
August 26th, 2011
09:40 PM ET

Video: Preparing for Hurricane Irene

Editor's note: CNN's Anderson Cooper talks to Stephen Flynn and Chris Cerino about preparing for Hurricane Irene.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
Hurricane Warnings from N.C. to Mass.: Join the Live Chat
August 26th, 2011
07:45 PM ET

Hurricane Warnings from N.C. to Mass.: Join the Live Chat

Anderson will reporting live tonight from Battery Park, New York. Much of Lower Manhattan is under a mandatory evacuation order that takes effect tomorrow afternoon. Hurricane warnings are now posted from North Carolina to Massachusetts as Irene approaches the U.S. We'll look at how residents all along the east coast a preparing for the storm. We'll also get insight on what Irene could do to New York City's skyscrapers and subway system. And meteorologist Chad Myers will have the latest from the National Hurricane Center on Irene's potential path this weekend.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog
Beat 360º 8/26/11
August 26th, 2011
05:37 PM ET

Beat 360º 8/26/11

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!

Beat 360° Challenge


Filed under: Beat 360°
August 26th, 2011
03:01 PM ET

Letters to the President #949 'I am ready!'

Reporter's Note: Federal officials are warning people on the east coast to prepare for Hurricane Irene’s wrath. For my part, I am now sealing my daily letters to the White House in Ziploc bags. I think that should do the trick.

Dear Mr. President,

My wife and I have been watching the parade of public officials on TV for the past 24 hours warning us, as residents of the D.C. area, to get ready for the big storm. In addition, we’ve been getting phone calls, e-mails, and texts from family members loaded with what they assume are helpful hints on what we should do. And while I can’t prove it, I think the dog is also trying to tell us something. I take it all seriously, but to be honest, only to a point. I mean, in fairness, once I’ve bought some batteries, a case of water, and a couple packs of Fritos, what else is there to do?

I can’t keep a big tree from falling on my house if the wind kicks up. If the floodwaters rise high enough, I won’t be able to keep them out of the basement. I certainly can’t keep the electrical grid working on my own, and judging from past performance neither can the power company in my neighborhood. Ha!

Sure, I suppose I could get a little more involved in proactive measures, like making sure all critical documents and insurance papers are encased in some sort waterproof, fireproof, terror proof, plague proof, nuclear proof container. But I can just see how that would go if the house were crushed to the ground by a massive wave or screaming gust of wind.

“Tom,” my wife would shout over the raging storm, “What are you doing rummaging through the rubble? We’ve got to get out of here!”

“I know! I know! I just have to find the box. I must find the box!”

Maybe we could get a rowboat, fill it with all the essentials, and tie it to the back door. At the last moment, we could jump in, and ride the storm surge to a new home in Kentucky or someplace like that.

“Land! I see land! And horses!”

My wife, who has been more alarmed about all this than I am, actually suggested this morning that I take an old car with pretty questionable air-conditioning into work today, instead of my considerably more comfortable vehicle.

“That way,” she explained, “we’ll save gas in your car in case the power fails and the gas stations are not working.”

“So,” I said, “you want me to be protectively uncomfortable? Maybe I should just ride my bike...or walk all nine miles in to work...”

“Hmmm,” she said, tapping her chin.

“Look, if you want a divorce, just tell me. There is no need to engineer my demise in a mediocre hurricane.”

Anyway, in addition to my regular job, that is what I am up to as we wait for Irene. I hope it is in fact mediocre, and that all these preparations prove of no particular use. If that’s the case and we’re clear by Sunday night, do you want to come over? I’ll have plenty of water and Fritos to share, and we can sit in the rowboat and have a laugh.

Regards,

Tom

August 25th, 2011
09:39 PM ET

Video: CNN producer describes fear inside hotel

Editor's note: CNN producer Jomana Karadsheh explains being held in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel and how the journalists were set free.


Filed under: 360° Radar
August 25th, 2011
09:32 PM ET

Video: The manhunt for Gadhafi

Editor's Note: CNN's Nic Robertson and John Burns of the New York Times on the opposition fighters' search for Gadhafi.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Nic Robertson
August 25th, 2011
09:30 PM ET

Video: Hurricane Irene's impact on NYC

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper talks to Stephen Flynn about low-lying areas in NYC that could be at risk for flooding.


Filed under: 360° Radar
August 25th, 2011
08:11 PM ET

Irene Takes Aim at U.S., Manhunt for Gadhafi: Join the Live Chat

Hurricane warnings and watches are posted for parts of the east coast of the U.S. tonight as Hurricane Irene takes aim. We'll have the latest. Plus, opposition fighters in Libya searching for Moammar Gadhafi. They claimed they had him surrounded in Tripoli. We'll check in with our reporters in Libya.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog
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