Like so many other people, I am watching the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Horrified by the lack of preparedness in the population and inspired by the acts of courage and practical helping—like the citizen freeing up the storm drains with a ski pole, draining millions of gallons of water from his neighborhood.
I feel for the people who are going through this disaster, in part because of the flood of 2007 in southeast Minnesota that we got caught in. For us, it occurred in August and the power going out for a week was more of an inconvenience than a life threatening problem. But for these people, no heat could mean hypothermia and death, especially for the children and old people who are most vulnerable.
The stories of courage and heroics are profound and heartening. But the stories that are being reported of looting and burglaries are equally disturbing. And I thought to myself, if an evacuation were called for here and the whole of the upper Midwest were devastated, would I be prepared?
Yes, I have a bug out bag, but I’ve neglected to pack it like I should (No insurance papers or contact lists. I’ve dipped into the $500 that was in it for other preparedness supplies, planning on putting the money back, but what if something happened today?
We live paycheck to paycheck, as did many of those people who were advised to evacuate couldn’t, because they couldn’t afford to. In talking with our county emergency people, if there was a nuclear emergency we are far enough away that we would be advised to shelter in place–hence the plastic and duct tape stored in the basement. However, after a factory burned in town and half the town was evacuated, I got to thinking about evacuation scenarios.
We have a major interstate highway that winds through this very small city (2,500–largest in the county) and many hazardous waste trucks that go through. What if one of those hazardous waste trucks overturned? Would I be ready to “grab and go”?
So many of these people can’t even access their canned foods, because they don’t have a manual can opener in the house. They have never even thought about how to heat up a can of soup without a stove to use. What to do about the toilet when it doesn’t flush? And heat without electricity is always a problem.
And the same people, and states, who were complaining about big government, the deficit, and the sovereignty of state governments, are now clamoring for FEMA to feed them and give them heat, and to pick up not just 75% of the tab but 100%! As evidenced by Governor Chris Christy hugging President Obama—what an iconic moment! Without the National Guard, the federal government, and the Red Cross, where would these people be?
As a nation, are we not strongest and best when we pull together through hard times? And where is the preparedness movement in all this? I’m sure I missed a few sites, but where is the effort to reach out and at least give ideas on basics like cooking, cold weather survival, dealing with waste, etc. without electricity?
What can I do to help, as an individual?
I don’t have extra money to donate, but I do have blood. And today, I am going down to give blood at the Red Cross’ impromptu blood drive being held to help replenish the Nation’s blood supply. I’ve been searching the internet for simple, can do, alternatives to cooking without electricity—note the brick rocket stove and windshield reflector solar stove. How can we stay warm without electricity? I just heard that 4 people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while using their generators—they were prepared with generators, but not carbon monoxide alarms.
On the local level, I am working with the emergency people to bring a preparedness event to our small community before winter sets into the Great North.
Preparedness, by its very nature is thinking about what to do BEFORE things happen. Being self-reliant; not government reliant. Being able to help your neighbor (Yes, I am not one of those people who thinks I can stand alone. I am part of a community.), not having to depend on your neighbor to help you.
And what of our churches? Have you asked if your church has an emergency preparedness plan and how they will help the community in time of need? Do they have a non-electric alternative heat source if something happens in the winter? Do they have a generator and carbon monoxide alarms, and gasoline stored, food, where they could be of service to their congregation in a time of need? Churches so often focus on giving, but are they prepared to help their congregation?
So much of preparedness is alternative thinking, what if thinking. You may be in an apartment, live in a home in town, or on a homestead, but the thinking is always the same, “What if… And am I prepared?”