I made it through Hurricane Sandy pretty lucky. At our home, we only had some water seep into the car and it only affected our carpets. Nothing else. Drive-able, no electric damage, nothing. We were out of power for 5 days and that was rough, I had my “no electricity breakdown” on day 4, but through it all I knew that I was lucky that I wasn’t among people who lost everything to flood, fire, wind and everything else that happened.
Never would I have imagined that I’d live through a storm in my area bad enough that they hold a telethon for my area. Not that I got to see this telethon, with no electricity and all. It’s heartbreaking, seeing all the devastation. Going through this, it changes you. Personally, I am afraid. I’m always afraid of losing power now, because it keeps happening. We’ve had two times that power went out at our house since it was restored. Nothing seems permanent. While I’m thankful and grateful for all the utility workers that have worked round the clock shifts to restore things, and thankful to the fleets of utility workers coming from all over the country to help repair things, I am still leery that our utility companies have legitimately invested in disaster preparedness. There are still places without power and it is the 13th day they are in the cold and the dark or living in a shelter. I know that this has been damage beyond imagine here, but I can’t help but worry that the people that we pay to give us electricity and ensure that it keeps flowing and is repaired in a timely manner are not actually putting stock into actually being ready for something like this.
With that uncertainty in my power supply, I don’t even want to go grocery shopping anymore. I don’t want to lose a bunch of food again do to spoilage from a refrigerator without electricity. This week after the power went out again, I just was so defeated. My boyfriend and I only bought a couple things when we’d gone grocery shopping a few days earlier, but what if we had done a whole re-stock like many families have done, and lost $300 worth of food again? The value of non-perishable food has never been more clear. I don’t even want to buy food more than a day ahead of when I’m going to use it if it needs to be refrigerated.
There is a gas issue going on in our state. Two of our biggest refineries are still out of service and we will have odd/even day gas allowances until they are back up and running. The lines around my area have gone down, but the first few days there were 2 hour waits in some places to fill up your car or people with gas cans for their generators. Fights were breaking down on line to get gas. In times of crisis like this, you will see either the best in humanity come forward, and we all help our fellow neighbors, or you will see the worst in people as they fist fight for things they need to survive.
Before the storm, I tried to do my best to prepare. I did’t think that “the worst” would happen, but I prepared as much as I could anyways. Doing things also helps to settle my nerves when I’m anticipating something to either happen or not happen. Here are things that I did before the storm that actually helped:
- We filled up the car with a full tank of gas. I can’t stress how important this is. The news said to do this, and so we did. Other people did not heed this warning and then they ran out of gas while on the gas line with less than a quarter in their tank. Fill up your car before something is about to happen!
- Bought non-perishable foods. We were lucky to still have gas to our house to cook things, so we cooked up our perishable food first and then after that we could still make pasta and things.
- Bought a bag of ice. When shit started seeming legit, we bought a bag of ice and put it in the freezer. A few hours after the power went out, we got our cooler, put in our save-able perishable foods and topped it with the still-frozen ice from the freezer. We thought this would save some food in case we got power back soon. The power didn’t come back for days, but this makeshift icechest really did help keep foods from going bad. Half and half for my coffee was good for days.
- Filled up empty Poland Spring jugs with tap water. In case we did not have water, we had 20 gallons of water ready, plus the one case of bottled water we purchased.
- Do all the laundry. If you’re out of power, you can’t wash your clothes. If you don’t have hot water, you’re not taking a lot of showers. Have some clean clothes. This really came in handy.
- Take out money from the ATM. Mike remembered to do this and it was helpful. I can’t tell you how many idiots on Facebook or the news I saw lamenting that stores or gas stations were only accepting cash. We were warned this could happen. Fill up on cash and gas!
- Have all your supplies at the ready. When you’re in the dark and you don’t know where your matches, batteries or lanterns are, you are going to have a lot of regrets. I put a tray table in the living room and on that I put all the batteries, candles, matches, emergency lantern and flashlights on it. Just the comfort of knowing where your emergency supplies are can deflect the feelings of panic that you’re bound to be stuffing back. It’s also good to take stock of your emergency supplies before the trouble actually come so you can pick up anything you might be missing.
- Get some booze. Shit be boring in the dark. Might as well drink.