Preparing – When is Enough and When is it Not Enough?
… and lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy
This is not proposed as a rhetorical question. As a single mom of two, one of whom is going to college in the next year, I have to ask myself, when and what is enough. I began preparing about three years ago and have learned a lot since then. Three of my closest friends and neighbors are also prepping and we have an agreement to help each other out. We have a close proximity bug-out location, as well as a far away-in the middle of nowhere-location, that would be our ultimate goal if TEOTWAWKI were to come to pass. So far, I have between 6 months and one year of food storage, ¾ of the year ability to grow food, home security, and water/purification methods. What is looming are: alternate power sources, a solid food storage supply, and protection abilities. Should I invest in solar power, natural gas generator, gas generator, more food storage (we eat organic, so Tang and Spam are not options), more ammunition, plus what am I missing? Due to my job, and thanks to my governor, I have to live in New Jersey. It is definitely neither the cheapest nor remotest state to reside, but, thus far, it has been a blessing. In the past 40 years, I can count on one hand how many times we have been without power in my neighborhood, have not experienced crime, have a great public school system, and have enjoyed the mountains and beaches that NJ affords. So, what is next? I am truly stuck between continued prepping efforts and turning my focus elsewhere.
I wrote the first paragraph prior to Hurricane Sandy smashing into New Jersey. I still feel truly blessed to be part of a terrific community that comes together to help each other. Fortunately, I do not live by the beach or in a flood zone. My heart and prayers go out for those who have been devastated. Many lessons have been learned due to Sandy. Most importantly, if you are evacuated, get out. Yes, leave. Do not stay. A close friend was under mandatory evacuation from a shore town; she didn’t leave and her town was torn apart. Fortunately, her house only suffered minor damage, but other homes just a block away were blown across the street like a deck of cards, leaving nothing but the concrete slab. Stuff is not worth your life or anyone else’s. You are putting other people’s husbands, wives, and children in harm’s way when they have to come rescue you.
The next lesson I learned is that people are woefully unprepared. For me, Saturday was spent preparing for the impending hurricane. Lawn furniture was brought in, cars and gas containers were topped off, water containers were filled, Ziploc bags were filled with water and placed into the freezer, the fridge was on the coldest setting, laundry and dishes were all done and canning supplies were sterilized. When I went out with a friend on Saturday evening I had asked how come his gas gauge was not on full. He said that he didn’t work far and had no need to fill it, for half a tank was plenty. Sure enough, after the storm, he had to wait for over an hour on line for gas. On top of it, he didn’t go food shopping and there was not a loaf of bread to been seen. My home was buzzing with friends who did not even own a flashlight. One friend had fallen down the stairs during the outage and twisted her ankle because she did not see the last step in the dark. No matter how many times you send website links and suggest that they maintain even modest supplies, some people will not heed the warnings.
This summer I obtained numerous estimates for the different types of generators. From natural gas, standby generators to gas generators with a transfer switch, they were all outside my current budget. However, I learned how to can this summer and was prepared to make soups, stews and other dishes that I would be able to preserve if my freezer was to defrost. I also had purchased a Mr. Heater Buddy indoor propane heater along with propane. I figured this, in addition to my gas fireplace, would keep us somewhat warm along with preventing the pipes from freezing if it got that cold. From warm clothing to zero below sleeping bags, everyone in the house would be snug. Would this be a long term solution? I doubt it. Propane runs out, the gas could go out, and then we’d be really stuck.
Fortunately, we did not suffer much damage and the power was out for less than 24 hours. One of my friends who is still without power 4 days later, asked me for a list of what she should get so that she will be more prepared next time. Here’s my initial starter list: a good first aid kit, an LED flashlight, a good lantern that will illuminate a room, battery operated radio, warm sleeping bag, water containers, shelf stable food, a full gas tank, cash, and a form of protection. Is this by any means complete? Absolutely not. However, if you don’t even own a flashlight, this is a good place to start.
Hurricane Sandy has brought devastation and destruction to many in New York and New Jersey. Prayers go out for those who are still suffering and thankfully, people are working together to help each other. Let’s learn from this tragedy, get going with your preps and continue preparing if you have already started, for we never know what tomorrow might bring.