Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Just this evening on the local news they had a story about preparedness.  It is amazing how when you start to think about a subject sometimes information begins to pop out at you everywhere.  Tonight's news article was about being prepared for a hurricane.  Several years back we had a hurricane come this far inland and it devastated the city.  Trees were toppled over, electricity was out for weeks, and for several days our water was compromised.

I remember that time well.  We had been at the beach and we left early because we knew the hurricane was coming.  We came home to our house and when we arrived we found out that the track of the storm would likely go right over where we lived.  Not to worry.  Our house was stable, we were so far inland that we expected the storm to likely weaken, and we had necessary supplies.  We had about 24 hours to prepare for the storm.  We knew we would likely lose power as we often lost power in regular rainstorms and sometimes just with a stiff breeze.  We had plenty of candles, lanterns, and flashlights.  We secured anything not tied down in the yard and we cleaned out our rain gutters. We had plenty of food in the house and had the other essentials (milk, bread, toilet paper).   We woke early the next day (the day the storm was to come) and my husband suggested that he go out and get some ice.  He ran out and bought 80 lbs of ice and loaded it in the freezers.  We lost power early but didn't worry.  That evening we grilled on the screened porch in the pouring down rain.  We could hear tree limbs cracking and falling and we could hear some trees fall too.  We were safe though in our house.

The next morning we went out to inspect the damage.  Fortunately we didn't have much damage at all.  We had a few limbs fall and one cracked the top rung on our fence but that was all.  Our neighbors however fared much worse than we did.  There was significant damage due to downed trees.  There were power lines down everywhere.  Some roads were blocked by the trees and the power lines.  Travel was difficult in some places.  Since we didn't have power we thought we would go out to eat breakfast.  Apparently everyone else in the town had the same idea.  We went to a local grocery store when we realized that what few restaurants that were open were packed.  The grocery store was so crowded and everyone was buying food that was easy to eat or prepackaged meals.  We hadn't thought about everyone going out the day after and buying everything they could.  We weren't panicked and we ended up not buying anything but going back home.  We had food there.

Over then next couple days we learned quickly to cook most everything and anything on the grill.  We had plenty of propane and cast iron skillets and pots.  We cooked pancakes and eggs in the mornings, grilled cheese sandwiches at lunch, soups, spaghetti, and of course grilled meats and veggies for dinners.  We didn't have power for 14 days. In the process that ice that my husband had gotten at the last minute saved much of our food for a few days so we could eat more of it and not have to throw it out.  After 4 days or so we did have to throw out everything left in the freezer.  We then went to buying any refrigerated items on a daily basis.  We learned a lot about this event.

We love our cast iron cookware and while we use it almost daily we love that it can perform double duty and work on the grill in an emergency.

We learned that it is so helpful to have a plan from the start so you don't have to go out in the crowds immediately following a disaster.  We should have stayed home and not left for a few days.  But we were able to see first hand the crowds.  While these crowds on that day were civil with each other in another emergency they may not be so civil.  There could be riots, looting, and violence.  I had my children with me and that could have been a very dangerous situation.

Fast forward to today.  Am I ready for another hurricane?  I am not sure.  I need to work on this idea.

Here are some things I do know:
1. I feel confident that I can handle our basic needs for a few days with our supply of food in our house.  It isn't much, like months worth of food but it will get us through for several days if need be.
2. I feel confident that our supply of flashlights, candles, and lanterns will get us through for several days.  I need to check on our supply of extra batteries.
3.  I feel confident that we would be able to adequately prepare prior to an upcoming storm given a day or two notice that it is coming.
4.  I am not confident that we have additional tarps, plastic, duct tape, and other supplies if damage occurs to our house where we need to do some immediate temporary repairs to it.

The news article talks about stocking up on these items:
1. have at least 3 days of food and water that you can prepare or eat without power to cook it.
2. stock up on tarps, duct tape, plastic, etc for quick repairs.
3. have an emergency plan.
4. have at least 3 days of batteries for flashlights, lanterns, and other lighting sources.
5. have additional personal supplies like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items as well as prescription meds and pet food.

I am going to begin making a list of items that will help us be prepared for this kind of emergency.

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