After 40 years or so in a house so close to the Chesapeake Bay that they could just about launch boats from their living room, Raymond and Elizabeth Walker have figured out the most effective way to prepare for a hurricane: A little after noon yesterday, as Isabel was hitting the North Carolina coast, they were making meatloaf.
"We might lose electricity, so I said, 'Let's do it now,'" Raymond Walker said.
The Walkers live on the end of Millers Island, the very tip of the North Point peninsula east of Edgemere in Baltimore County, about as flood-prone a spot as can be found.
Some of the residents there said they were evacuating, but most, like the Walkers, were markedly nonchalant.
The danger there isn't that high winds will shatter windows or knock down trees - by the time storms get this far, long-time residents say, the wind usually isn't that bad.
But on a peninsula that's about 100 yards wide and perhaps 2 feet above sea level at its peak, flooding is just about a guarantee, and no amount of plywood over windows can stop that.
"We've only had water twice in this house, and hey, the insurance paid for my rugs, so I can't complain," Elizabeth Walker said.
Business as usual
At the Islander Inn, a bar and restaurant across the street from Millers Island's marinas, the sole concession to the storm was that the owners didn't buy crabs yesterday for fear they would be spoiled if the power goes out. Otherwise, it was business as usual with $1 beers all afternoon.
Pete Golaboski, owner of Pete's Marina, said he moved to Millers Island during a hurricane in 1952. The worst he has seen, he said, was Hazel in 1954.
"I rode up and down the road with a little outboard motor," he said as he sipped a beer at the bar. "You never know, we're going to have some high water, but I don't think it's going to be anything compared to Hazel."
Two stools down, Eddie Rabb suggested that, for safety's sake, they should sit on the west side of the bar instead.
It was only the non-natives, some construction workers who stopped in for lunch, who appeared concerned at all about the storm. They insisted that the bartender turn the big screen TVs on to the Weather Channel, much to the chagrin of the locals who were watching the Orioles game.
Even those Millers Islanders who were leaving were generally sanguine about Isabel.
Clarence and Myrtle Raines, who have lived in a low-slung bungalow just off the bay for 40 years, said they were on their way to a hotel and figured they might not have anything left when they came back, but they weren't letting that get them down.
"There's not a thing you can do about it," Clarence Raines said.
Worst comes to worst, Myrtle Raines said, "We've got a nice attic."
Flood is pretty cool
Sam Kurts, a 10-year-old who was out playing between the rain showers yesterday afternoon, said as far as he was concerned, the hurricane seemed like great fun.
"It's gonna get flooded!" he said.
His mother, Lisa Kurts, a relative newcomer to the peninsula, was a bit less excited. She and her husband, Scott, decided to stay, but she wasn't quite sure whether to be worried or not. Yesterday afternoon, she was betting on not.
"I just think it's going to be lots of rain and lots of wind. I guess we don't know, but that's why we're staying," she said. "I just don't quite see it happening. I just feel like it's going to miss us."
Jim Darr, who was walking Golaboski's dog, Trixie, yesterday afternoon, said the whole thing was just a bunch of hype. He said he figured there would be a couple of feet of water. No big deal on Millers Island.
"It just sells papers," he said.