I've been reviewing my Preparing to Prepare piece (work in progress - non fiction) and thinking about the hurricanes that hit the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico) lately. Think about it... In a span of 45 days:
- Hurricane Harvey hit Texas/Louisiana on August 26, 2017 (90 dead)
- Hurricane Irma hit Florida on September 10, 2017 (134 dead)
- Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 (90 dead)
- Hurricane Nate hit Louisiana/Mississippi on October 8, 2017 (40 dead)
Millions of families are/were without power, uprooted, and devastated. Their possessions were flooded, blown down, or washed away. Sadly, 354 people lost their lives to these storms. Now, most of these deaths were the result of failing to evacuate (where possible), shabby building standards, poor planning, and even worse decision making.
But what about the survivors... the millions without power and the utterly helpless?
Many of the companies I frequent for my various supplies and interests sent long haul trucks and cargo containers full of supplies to the devastated regions to help with the relief effort. As a result, this has left the rest of us facing shortages when it comes to new purchases and the replenishment of exhausted consumable resources. Seeing an item online tagged with an 'Out of Stock' message has become a common occurrence for me.
In the non-fiction book, I take the concept of general preparedness and break it down into three distinct duration's; minor (1-week or less), moderate (1-3 weeks), and major (4-weeks or more). Each of these hurricanes reached a 'Moderate' rating at different stages of its lifecycle in certain parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and North America. Several of these storms, given my duration classification, are 'Major' disturbances.
So what do you do if presented with this scenario?
Here's what I put in the book:
I point to this weather related issue because this puts Hurricane Matthew in the ‘moderate disruption’ category. Knowing what they are experiencing, it begs some of the following questions. Do you have enough of the following to last two solid weeks for a family of four?
- Food and Water
- For a vehicle to go 50-100 miles (one-way) to get supplies?
- For the portable generator (assuming you have one)
- For the house generator (e.g. Generac, assuming you have one that is not on a city feed)
- For cooking meals and boiling water (propane, white, or charcoal - assuming you don’t have a gas stove being fed by the house generator)
- Consumable supplies (batteries, candles, toilet paper, feminine supplies, etc.)
Two things to consider with a whole house generator (should you be thinking about procuring one):
- If the city is without power and you are hooked into a city fed gas line, you will be without gas due to the pumping station lacking power.
- A week is just about enough time for people to start panicking and doing things they never would have thought themselves capable of doing. Two weeks without reliable food, water, and electricity and you’re bound to have a run in or two with someone more desperate than you.
I tell you these things because a home lit up like Christmas against a backdrop of sheer darkness is a tempting target… but we’ll get to the concept of discretion and security a little later.
Additionally, if you flesh out the last item on the previous list, Consumable Supplies, you might have a list that looks something like:
- Batteries (varying sizes)
- Candles (long burning)
- Toilet Paper
- Feminine supplies
- Spare toothbrushes/toothpaste
- Soap and shampoo
- Dishwashing soap
- Laundry detergent
- A method for washing/drying clothes
- Paper plates, cups
- Plastic cutlery
Granted, food and water are consumable products too, but I’ve made those separate line item categories for the simple fact that you need those two items to actually live and survive. These items are just for comfort.
For me, the preliminary questions and various scenarios present in this Introduction alone are enough of a reason to begin seriously thinking about preparing to prepare. What do you think?
Perhaps, the millions without power wouldn't be nearly as helpless, and most aren't, if they had planned accordingly for just such an event. I know, that seems harsh and a tad bit like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but it's true. I cannot understand why people still believe some omnipotent government apparatus is going to save them. I see videos of people boarding up the beach house windows and then sitting inside as a massive hurricane closes in. My only thought is, "Great, you saved your windows. Got any food or water in there?"
Sadly, the answer is usually, 'We ran out', 'We thought they'd get here sooner', 'We didn't think it would be that bad', and 'I'll never do that again'.
FEMA says every American should have a 3-day supply of food and water in case of an emergency. I say screw that! 3-days isn't enough for the people affected in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, or Puerto Rico.
After reviewing that piece of my Introduction some weeks ago, I started a new reinvigorated effort to procure some things. Where did I turn... to my handy JWR inspired LISTS of course! The image below has been cobbled together from multiple lists actually (certain personal data removed of course). I'm providing it here as context given the previous write-up concerning duration's.
The center column labeled as 'Procured' has conditional formatting applied to it. If the cell for the row contains a value, a 'Y' for example, then the entire row is shaded in green indicating I no longer require that item and have achieved that goal.
Given the current state of affairs nationally and globally, can you really afford not to start acquiring even the most basic emergency supplies?