Is Emergency Preparedness A Pipe Dream?

November 5, 2011

the economy, thrift, winter prep

I’m reading this very old book, Historic Storms of New England. It was written by Sidney Perley and published in 1891. His narratives go back to the first recorded natural disasters of the year 1635, a mere 15 years after the Separatists (English Pilgrims) landed on the shores of Massachusetts in 1620. The book is amazing, it tells of earthquakes, strange appearances in the heavens, blizzards, hurricanes (although they were not called hurricanes back then), meteorites and other strange events and storms. Some of the stories include eyewitness accounts (one family’s devastating shipwreck is heart wrenching). In most cases, such natural catastrophes drew people closer to God.

As I’ve been reading the book, oddly enough, New York and New England have suffered a year of unusual weather and natural disasters. This year alone, we’ve had THREE devastating floods, an earthquake, two hurricanes, innumerable tornadoes and — a mere week ago — a freak October Nor’Easter that dumped 32 inches in Maine. I was shocked to read the blog of one of my friends. who reports that in Connecticut they STILL have no electrical power. Cindi at has had to throw out all the food in her two refrigerators and freezers. News reports say the storm killed 8 people and cut power for at least 4 million households. Wow. Cindi said she has a generator, but there is no gasoline available, so they are out of power completely. Because of the immense snow and downed trees, travel out of the area is impossible, So they are stuck in the disaster zone. Wow.

Backyard Snow2

It won't be long....

And that got me thinking.

My husband and I have discussed “emergency preparedness” before. We have two sump pumps that work day and night to keep water out of our basement. We’ve experienced numerous floods (so many I can’t count anymore), but only once did we lose power in all our years here. If we lost power — especially during a heavy rainfall or hurricane — we’d be inundated with flood waters. So we discussed getting a generator, thinking this would solve our problem. But after reading Cindi’s situation, I wonder if that’s really the cure-all we originally thought. In a natural catastrophe, the gas stations may not pump gas. Then what?

So I don’t know what to do. I feel rather frustrated because everything in our society is SO reliant and integrated with the electrical grid. It makes me feel uneasy. I like to have a contingency plan, but there really isn’t anything. And I thought, “Well, we could get a wood-burning generator, right?” But our chainsaw needs gas to cut that wood. We have SOME wood in the back, but I don’t think we would have nearly enough. And where would I store it? If another flood rages across my land, all the wood is down the pike.

I’m beginning to think “emergency preparedness” is a pipe dream. There’s only *so much* you can do, because no matter what, you are reliant on other people and groups in the community being prepared, too. Which, as we see with the numerous disasters this year, few communities are. I do wonder about my own community. Are they so busy building sidewalks and shopping centers that they forget the other things, too? Like BOATS, lol.

Hm. What do you think?

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5 Responses to “Is Emergency Preparedness A Pipe Dream?”

  1. Marg Says:

    I really believe there is a lot you can do to get ready for an emergency. I used to live where there were hurricanes all the time so we had to be ready for them. You can have extra water ready for drinking and flushing the toilet, you can have sandwich materials for something to eat and lots of blankets to get under to stay warm.

  2. linf Says:

    I just read a list of things we are supposed to have handy in case of a disaster. Then they suggested that you may not be home when the disaster strikes, so we are supposed to stick this stuff in the back of your car.

    Okay, so what if we aren’t using THAT car that day? And how am I supposed to drive around town getting my groceries and stuff when I’ve got a suitcase full of clothes for the entire family, 2 cat carriers (because my two would KILL each other in the same carrier AND I couldn’t lift the darn thing!), cat food for a week, 5 gallons of water times I-don’t-know-how-many-days, and all of our “emergency” paperwork in the back of my car??

    Am I supposed to cart around a trailer of supplies for us? And what about gas? And food. And ways to ward off zombies that will be after our food and supplies in a disaster?

    Sheesh. Where do we realistically begin?

  3. Secondary Roads Says:

    The emergency power generator here is propane powered. We have extra food stuffs and home-canned fruits and veggies in the pantry.

    • Mrs. Mecomber Says:

      Marg– right you are about those.

      Lin– I think the experts are looney. If there’s a disaster, I’m going home.

      Chuck– propane powered?! Wow! Are there any that are natural gas powered, too? The nice thing about gas heaters is we have heat even if the power goes out. I love these things.

  4. Cindi @ Moomettes Magnificents Says:

    Rebe, I’ve always wanted to read that book you mentioned. My mom lived through the Hurricane and Flood of 1936 here in CT, and somewhere I still have some old pictures of Hartford and the Connecticut River before the dikes were built.

    What I think my family and others here in CT have learned, having experienced these two back-to-back natural disasters (Tropical Storm Irene and Winter Storm Alfred) within 2 months in 2011 (where the State was declared a disaster area), is that we cannot, REPEAT, cannot, depend upon the State or similar types of aid to sustain us during such disasters.

    Why? In the case of the power outages, the utilities companies said they couldn’t get to the wires because of the trees in the road; the towns couldn’t get their trucks to clear the roads because of the live electrical wires; one hand didn’t know what the other was doing and everybody was blaming everyone else. Out-of-state utility contractors didn’t come to our aid because they were claiming they weren’t being paid by the utility company; and the utility company said it was paying it’s bills.

    Do I recommend a generator? Absolutely. We have to take care of ourselves. What’s come out of this is possible legislation that will mandate that each town have at least one operable gas station in town, that is powered by a generator. They will have to bid for the rights. Will there be funding? That remains to be seen.

    Yes, the weather predictions are oftentimes off, way off. Vermont never in it’s wildest dreams would have thought that they would have been impacted the way they were with the devastating flooding because of Hurricane Irene, which at that point, hit Connecticut and Vermont as Tropical Storm Irene.

    Take care of your own family. Help your neighbors. Sadly, nobody else is going to hurry to help you. They’re all busy playing the “blame game.”