Hurricane Irene AAR and thoughts
Well, all the blowing and raining is over (at least in Central Pennsylvania) and I’m able to sit down and do this after action report.
First off, I want to say that I do feel for those people out there that are still without power at after 2000 (that’s 8 pm). I’ve heard reports of people that will be without power for up to a week yet (aka, my sister/brother in law, mother/father in law, etc). We’re helping them any way we can, which for now is letting them come over and use the shower, etc. We’ve got ice for them and we’ll possibly be storing some food for them. Tomorrow night, we’ll be having a good old family dinner with everyone over here to contribute, eat, and have fun. I feel for my brother and sister in law without power because of the kids, the’ve got to be going bananas with the kids home and no power.
Anywho, around 0430 a transformer blew and took out power for quite an extensive area. Trees were down everywhere and there was water a plenty. luckily, we didn’t have a problem with the sump pumps this time around and we weren’t flooded. Around 1100 today we dipped about 8 gallons of water out of one of the sumps but that was just to be on the safe side.
My neighbor said he was going out for fuel for his generator (thank God he picked one up) and asked if I wanted to ride along. I of course said yes and after checking on our neighbors to see if they were ok, and if they needed anything we headed out. We hit the gas station and Dicks (for light sticks) then stopped at Sheetz to grab something to munch on. Let me tell you, Sheetz was PACKED. They had to be close to capacity, they were out of all but a few small coffee cups, the one guy behind the register was WAY overwhelmed and the kids behind the MTO counter were RUNNING. This made me stop and think.
We were ok without power. We have a coleman grill, jet boil stove, plenty of fuel for both, freeze dried dinners, bottled water, plenty of batteries, flashlights and light sticks as well as enough stuff to keep the kiddo busy. I even had instant coffee packs for my caffeine fix. The freezer would be good for about two days as long as we didn’t keep opening it and we didn’t have a lot of stuff in the fridge other than milk and yogurt that we really had to worry about. We didn’t have a regular stove/oven as it runs electric. We didn’t have water for the toilet or showers because we have well water, but we really didn’t need it. We were good. Almost all of the stuff we have, we had for camping. My sone even got in on the (as he puts it) ‘camping out inside’ by making toast over a candle (with adult supervision of course).
Our neighbor was pretty good as well as he had a good supply of batteries, light sticks, water, etc. Plus he had the generator for his sump pumps (their pumps don’t stop running even with a light rain as where they live just happens to be below grade and all the water runs straight down into their property.
But I started to think about the people that we saw when we were out and about. What would happen to them if they were without power for more than a few hours (ours was out from 0430 will around 1300). A few hours and they were already ‘storming’ Sheetz and anywhere else that had ready to eat food (gas stations, fast food places) to get coffee, latte’s, subs, sandwiches, etc. Bread and Bottled water was GONE, very few places had any to be found. If we were hurting for any of these, we’d be in some sour shape. A few things that would help them out in the event of another emergency similar to this.
Water: Keep a few gallons of water on hand or get it ready the day before an expected storm. Water storage can be picked up at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, sporting good stores, etc. We have several water cans (5 gallon and 2 gallon) for camping as well as having about two cases of bottled water for when we have get togethers, etc. Fill up the tub, fill up a few 5 gallon buckets (for toilet, etc).
Food: It wouldn’t hurt to have a few packs of freeze dried or dehydrated food or even MRE’s handy. Most every department and/or sporting good stores have a decent selection of these types of foods that are used for camping. MRE’s can be purchased from Army/Navy stores or even online from Cheaperthandirt.com or even specialized online shops. Crackers, pretzels, wraps even beef jerky, nuts, etc are also good to keep around for quick and instant snacks to keep you going. And don’t forget about the breakfast bars, dry cereal, granola bars, etc. They’re a great snack or breakfast food. If you’re a coffee junky like myself, there’s a few different brand of single server instant coffee’s that won’t break your budget like the Starbucks Via will. And it doesn’t taste half bad.
Cooking Apparatus: If you’ve got an outdoor gas grill or a fire pit, you’ve got everything you need (as long as you’ve got propane and/or wood). This isn’t the greatest idea though if the wind is still blowing and/or it’s cold out. I personally suggest a little camping stove or something along the lines of the JetBoil stove. They’re priced anywhere from $25.00 to $300.00 and you can usually find decent deals on them. A note of caution though in using a propane stove in doors. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation. This way you don’t end up suffocating because of it. Also, you will want to make sure you have something to cook your food in (water mostly if you’re using freeze dried or dehydrated food) and a place to put the items so that you don’t end up burning down your house.
Lighting: You can find light sticks at a Dollar General for a buck a piece. They range everywhere from the micro/mini ones that are about an inch long up to the 14″ light sticks. They make GREAT room lights and ‘marker’ lights for at night. Crack a few, lay them on the floor in the hall way or the bathroom, kitchen, living room, or every other step on stairs, etc. You can find decent head lamps at K-Mart, Wal-Mart or your favorite box store anywhere. Pick up a few cheap flashlights at the dollar store while your there and you’re good to go. And to go hand in hand with the flashlights, make sure you have plenty of batteries. You can use candles for lighting but please be careful with these. They’re easy to burn the house down with.
Entertainment: This is something good to have around for when the power goes out, when you’re camping or even traveling. Comic books, coloring books, regular books, paper, pens, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers, board games, toys, even battery operated games and toys. If you have something like a PSP or GameBoy, you can make sure they are well charged up or you have extra battery packs for them. Another form of entertainment is the radio. Yes, the simple radio, battery operated CD player, etc.
Other: I’d suggest to keep a tarp or two around in case you start getting a leak. Put together a good house hold tool kit (hammer, knife, safety glasses, screw drive, wrench, adjustable wrench, etc) as well as a decent first aid kit. These are something that you should have around anyhow, they come in handy in a number of different ways, so just make sure you keep them updated and filled. You can keep all of your ‘storm supplies’ in a plastic waterproof container. You don’t have to have it sitting in your living room or family room, keep it in the garage or the basement where it’s easily accessible. A few other things you may want to have around is some rope (can be useful for MANY things), a hand saw, a chainsaw (please be careful if you have these and learn how to use them), work gloves (I prefer leather), enough fuel for your stoves, etc.
Something else that a lot of people don’t realize or even think about is their vehicle. Most if not all vehicles have some sort of cigarette lighter or power port, and some of them even have a built in inverter. Utilize this, if your vehicle doesn’t have a built in inverter, you can pick up a fairly inexpensive one from both online and in stores. You can use this to charge your phones, charge your laptop and possibly even run a radio or TV. Not to mention your radio in your vehicle.
One other thing that you want to keep in mind also is to at least keep a standard hard line telephone. You remember those don’t you? The kind that has a wire running into the wall and from the handset to the base? 🙂
If the power goes out and is out into the evening, a great way to keep the kids entertained is to have an indoor campout. Get blankets and pillows, couch cushions, etc and make a fort, string a few ropes across between chairs and make tents out of blankets, use a few beach towels and make a ‘fire pit’ with a flash light or lantern in the center. Sit around the ‘camp fire’ and pretend to roast marshmallows, etc. Tell stories, sing songs, etc.
Overall, keep your head, don’t panic and learn a few basic skills (such as how to cook using camp stoves) and you’ll be fine. You won’t have to make a mad rush to the local convenience store for your morning coffee and be able to sit back and relax while others are freaking out trying to figure out what to do.
Some of the things that I suggested here are just that, suggestions. And remember, this is for a summer or spring power outage. For a winter outage, there are MANY more things that you will need to take into account which I’m not going to into here. Please make sure you consult someone who has more experience setting up for a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) scenario but remember, it’s fine to squirrel away things for a rainy day, it’s another thing to go ‘mad prepper’ and spend all your money on prepping supplies. You can also check out the FEMA web site to get their suggestions and ideas.
The FEMA web site is: http://www.fema.gov/
What are some of your suggestions, how did you fare this weekend?