In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey–which affected us only with a huge amount of rain–people on the coast are waking up to a terrible realization that regardless of their preparations, it wasn’t enough.
I know. I’ve lived it.
Since moving more inland, we don’t worry about hurricanes anymore. Tornadoes are more prevalent here and far more unpredictable. It seems we traded one sort of natural disaster for another. Tornadoes are fast and wicked, but hurricanes are generally slow and very thorough with its destruction.
After Hurricane Rita we learned the hard way we were never as well prepared as we thought. We didn’t anticipate weeks of no power, no water, and no communication. And we were starved more for information than for food.
You don’t realize what it is to be cut off until you live without any connection to the outside world. All the the radio towers but one were down and every able-bodied announcer, regardless of their station, manned the single booth to keep the people informed on where to find water, gas, or medical supplies.
Food, even good food lost its appeal if it came from a can or box. There were days when we preferred to go hungry than eat another can of whatever.
Water was at a huge premium. Water for washing, for toilets, and for making you feel human again. Nothing felt as good as being able to go to bed clean. Without water, you don’t have that luxury.
It humbles you like you wouldn’t believe. I learned a lot after living through Rita. I learned you can never have enough water, that a portable generator is worth its weight in gold, and that food is the last thing on your mind.
There’s so much to do after a disaster’s aftermath. Unless you’ve gone through it, you can’t wrap your head around the amount of work involved. I’m glad we were a bit younger then, and tougher than we looked.
People who live near areas where natural disasters tend to occur are generally well prepared. It’s not their first rodeo and they know the drill. Water, batteries, flashlights, med kits, and canned goods.
People who live in areas rarely afflicted are like deer in headlights. They’re goofy, thinking the government will step in and make everything right within a few hours. It doesn’t work like that.
It’d be great if your electric company can return your power after a bad storm, but what happens if it can’t? Don’t get mad at them. They’re working as fast as they can, sometimes in really horrible conditions.
The poor linemen they sent to Texas after Rita were riddled with mosquito and tick bites. They slept in trailers and ate preserved food like the rest of us. It was miserable living, and they had to work long hours in it.
Regardless of where you live, power outages happen. We lost hundreds of pounds worth of food when power couldn’t be restored within a couple of days. I was bagging food for disposal and bleaching out our freezers by lantern light.
Here are extra tips if you get caught with no power:
• Fill plastic bottles with water and store in your freezer. If the power comes back right away, you can always take them out and use the thawed water on plants.
• If the power stays off, DO NOT open your freezer/refrigerator unless your need is dire. The less it’s opened, the longer your food will stay safe.
• If you know a disaster is headed your way, buy a couple of extra bags of cubed ice and store in the freezer. If you have to live off a chest cooler, you can use the ice to keep the food you’re going to eat cold until needed.
• Charge all your electronics, even old laptops. They could come in useful as the hours roll by.
• If you have a little disposable cash, invest in a solar powered charger to keep your cell phones and pads charged. This one has great reviews and three USB ports.
• Gather all your supplies into one centralized location. You don’t want to be scrambling for supplies if you have to evacuate at the last minute.
• Get cash. Don’t expect stores to have their credit cards machines working. After Rita, Greg was led through Walmart by a flashlight-wielding employee. They led a few people in at a time to pick up the essentials. Cash only.
• Water. Store more water than you think you need. Fill your tub or buy a WaterBOB.
• Gather your medications for every member of the family. If you’re running low, get a refill before disaster strikes.
• Board games. Believe it or not, after working all day clearing brush, if exhaustion doesn’t get you, boredom will. Have some board games handy. It’s nice to break up the monotony and it saves your cell phone for important uses.
• Candy. I really missed something sweet. If you’re stuck eating out of a can, have some candy or cookies in reserve. It keeps you from reverting into a Neanderthal.
What’s the longest you’ve ever been without power? Have you ever lived through a natural disaster? I’d love to hear how you coped.