We Need to Be Better Prepared for Natural Disasters

Note the large tree that the storm just broke in half.
I was in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy.  We definitely did not see the devastation that was apparent in some areas on the East Coast, but people in my area where without power anywhere between 24 hours to a week.  The day after the hurricane when we were driving around, I was astonished at the damage this storm had produced.  Trees were down everywhere.  Every business was closed with the exception of one Dunkin Donuts that ended up being our lifeline.  It was the only place I could recharge my phone.

After 24 hours, I was elated when I heard all the bells and whistles of my electronics come back to life.  It was a short time to be without power compared to everyone else, but my husband and I took stock of what was missing from our emergency plan.  Without power, we were missing three very important things: water, sewage, and heat.  Since we have a well, we needed electricity to pump the water into the house.  Our septic system requires a electricity to pump the sewage away from the house.  Our heater and our pellet stove, both need electricity to run.  Had we lost power for more than 24 hours, it would have made for some very cold days and nights.

Even though we have always had an emergency kit and keep extra drinking water around the house, this storm made re-evaluate how dependent we are on electricity.  Katrina, and now Sandy has taught us that we need to be better prepared.  You never know when a natural disaster is going to hit your area.  This is the second hurricane in 14 months that has hit our home and we are in the Northeast!!  It is obvious that the grand bureacracy that is the US government cannot be relied upon to come to our aid when there is such a mass power outage. As a people, we certainly need to push our government to do better, but at the same time we need to take responsibility for the safety of our own families and be prepared for a natural disaster, especially if you live in an area that is at greater risk.


Things We Did Right: 

Thankfully we had some key items in our emergency kit.  Plenty of flashlights, some hand powered flashlights in case we ran out of batteries, candles, first aid kit, some MREs.  We had plenty of extra drinking water.  We also have a water purifier in case we ran out of our drinking water and had to use rain water or water from the creeks around here. With our rain barrell, we would have had the capacity to collect water.  Our thought was that if power was out for a few days, we could use that water for the toilets.  If power was out for weeks, we could run the water through our water purifier and have some drinking water as well.

Things We Will Be Working On

We had always planned to buy a generator, but now we are glad that we had not.  We saw the long lines in our areas at the few gas stations that were opened for people trying to get gasoline for their generators.   Even worse, I saw the long lines in parts of New Jersey and New York where people waited for hours for some gasoline.  Through Sandy we have come to find out that gas stations need electricity to run so if the power is out, so is the gasoline!! A generator just does not seem like a wise investment if in the end you are going to rely on a fuel that will be scarce during a major power outage.  Instead we are looking into solar power.  For us having electricity is critical because our heat, water, and sewage all depend on it.   Solar power is expensive, but what I spend monthly on the electric bill, I would rather go towards paying for a solar system.  If there never is a power outage, I will save a lot of money in the future.  If there is a power outage, I have a system that I can rely on to keep us warm and give us access to our water.

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