Watching the aftermath of Sandy, my heart goes out to all the people affected by the storm, for lost loved ones, lost homes and lost treasures. So much has been tragically wiped away. But this blog is about emergency preparedness, so I cannot help but comment on the apparent severe lack of preparedness, both official and personal, physical and psychological, as the horrific stories of survival and loss continue to pour in.
One might argue that no one imagined it would be as bad as it was. No one imagined it would wipe places like the Jersey Shore and Staten Island nearly off the map. On the other hand, the weather predictions were eerily accurate many days ahead of the storm. The weather people can’t tell you, hey, that neighborhood will erupt in flames; but they can now clearly predict how really, really bad the system is and almost exactly where it is headed, and when. They can – and did – accurately predict storm surge on top of high tides and the full moon and warn that places like the New York subway would likely be flooded.
And still, too many people were not adequately prepared. Not prepared to erect flood barriers, or evacuate wider areas – not prepared to bug in, or bug out. Not prepared for what a disaster like that could mean for them, personally, and their families, neighbors and community. Not prepared what “lights out” and broken transportation mean in a crowded city where few people keep more than a day’s worth of food at home or even own cars.
Perhaps it is that big-city, modern technology-based mentality that kept people from realizing how very bad it could be. We are so damn spoiled…maybe even hypnotized by our entertainment media, smart phones and video games, not to prioritize these things appropriately. It doesn’t really matter why a giant megastorm is freaking out the meteorologists on mainstream news, all you need to do is pay attention and GET OUT. FEMA cannot reach so many thousands of people in a few dozen hours, even on their best day. Katrina should have taught us that. So unless you had been serious about your preps, with a storm like that on its way you need to get your family somewhere safe and no buts about it.
What I saw instead was a mad rush 24-48 hours before it hit, leaving store shelves completely empty of food, water, batteries, etc. Many people were not only not leaving – they weren’t the least bit prepared. #vodka #cigarettes If it had been an earthquake, or even a tsunami warning, then they’d really have been screwed. It should be clear to people now that if you have to participate in that kind of panic, you are not prepared. Especially if you have children and needed to participate in that panic, you should be ashamed of yourself.
I mean that with all due respect, to all the displaced people. So many of them weren’t prepared because, to begin with, their local governments weren’t prepared. I don’t think Mayor Bloomberg helped when he seems to have downplayed the storm and waited to call for evacuations only after some stormy criticism from the weather guys, no pun intended. (And then had to be shamed into canceling the marathon – what is wrong with that guy?) No one wants to leave their treasured home and neighborhood believe me – I understand, I have one too. But in these times one must pay attention, and tune in to what really matters.
Then afterwards, to express shock at the time it took for people to get assistance and access to the things they are used to – like fresh water, gas stations, food, and even bathrooms – that in itself is shocking. What did people expect from a megastorm a thousand miles wide with the barometric force of a Category 3 hurricane moving through one of the world’s most densely populated megalopoli? If you chose not to heed a mandatory evacuation, you don’t really have a right to complain that it’s taken many days for relief to arrive. If you chose not to heed a mandatory evacuation, one must assume you are PREPARED.
In some ways perhaps, it may not be possible to adequately prepare for such mega-destruction. People did not think that the water would come up so high in places like Staten Island. FEMA actually ran out of bottled water. So what to do? We all pray there will not be a next time but if there is, one can only hope some important lessons have been learned. Ultimately this is all I can suggest: GET OUT. I guess, if you live in NYC, you’re probably not going to be a “prepper”. And if you’re a prepper, you probably don’t live in NYC. That really may be the bottom line here.
We left the big city life behind a long time ago with these things in mind. But that doesn’t mean we are immune to disaster. Hawaii is not a magical place where bad thing never happen. We now live on a volcano, and tsunamis have devastated our island several times. We are ready as much as we can afford to be. We have bug-out bags in various places, and we never let our cars go below half a tank. We have a few supplies stored at home in case we ever get stuck here without other resources, like in a tsunami (we live at altitude, but a big wave could wipe out the stores downtown). We also chose to live somewhere far away from the roving hordes, where culturally, many people tend to gather and share as community even when there is no emergency, and have experience living off the land and sea. #Ohana
Because let’s be clear: big cities are not sustainable without power and transportation. Really, even small towns like ours would suffer greatly, especially at first. How fast do you think “civilization” as we know it would degenerate without it? I’d like to say it’s unimaginable, but it’s not anymore. #martiallaw #zombies
The reality of life off the grid, whether you like it or not, can be cruel if you’re not ready for it. Most people cannot fathom life without electricity for an extended period of time. After just a couple of days, people are angry, petulant, demanding, as if “power-on” is some kind of inalienable right.
It’s not. Be ready for it. #EMP #CME
Infrastructure meltdown happens really very quickly, as many in the Northeast are now experiencing. Hawaii is also heavily reliant on regular shipments of food and supplies. If a barge is late, you might find few choices left in the toilet paper aisle at Safeway one afternoon, or that your favorite cereal won’t be in until next Thursday. Have extras of those kinds of things at home. You’re naïve – or downright stupid – if you don’t. Here, as in bigger cities, people are likely to take things for granted like technology, Internet, smart phones, lattes, all-night convenience stores…how about refrigeration? Heat on a cold night? A clean bathroom? Medical care? Think about life without any of those things. Or maybe you live on Staten Island, so you don’t have to imagine it any more. #TheWalkingDead
Fortunately, Hawaii’s volcanoes are not known for pyroclastic explosions, and generally there is enough time to get out before the lava comes. My husband and I were expressing our amazement at the level of anxiety in Sandy’s wake, wondering whether more people might have taken the hint and left the area before it hit, or have had more supplies on hand to wait out the relief trucks. So much was wiped away, we realize; on the other hand, what if people had been told lava may be coming to their neighborhood in a couple of days? Might they have fled more readily and rapidly, and might the government done more to prepare as well? Maybe. But a wall of water? Eh. I think we may discover in the days and weeks to come that it was a whole lot worse…IS a whole lot worse than anyone could imagine, or that is even reported on the MSM to date.
You don’t have to be a “doomsday prepper” or believe in end-of-the-world prophecies to see the wisdom in basic emergency preparedness. And if you live anywhere near a nuclear power plant…well…that’s a whole other can of worms isn’t it. #Fukushima
Seriously people. It doesn’t matter where you live anymore. Tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes… sinkholes… BE PREPARED and don’t put it off. DO IT NOW. ESPECIALLY if you insist on staying in a heavily populated area, or near a coast at sea level. #Chaos This includes preparing family and children, and yourself, psychologically for the possibility that things could be very difficult during an emergency.
And now on top of everything, another storm threatens the same area next week. Freezing temperatures where many may still have no power could very well be another disaster in the making. How would you prepare your family for that in a long-term grid-down scenario? These are questions to ask long before the long emergency – not the day before. And The Day After Tomorrow will be far, far too late.
Let’s hope things get sorted out pretty darn quick and everyone is safe, warm and fed before the next storm. And if you’ve procrastinated in your own preparations, consider this: if a volcano were erupting near your house or city in Hawaii or on the mainland (which by the way it could in SoCal, or really anywhere in the Southwest not even considering Yellowstone), would you leave? So what will it take to get you prepared for other disasters and emergencies? There are plenty of resources to help you and your family make a plan, even on a budget. Check my sidebar or search online now in your state, before the power goes out. Please don’t let a disaster hit your hometown and surprise you and your family. Be ready.
#Hurricane #Tornado #Earthquake #Tsunami #Volcano #SolarFlare #Sinkhole #Nor’easter #WWIII #CyberAttack #Cannibals #Whatever #Duh
PS If anyone has any stories of serious preppers surviving Sandy, please post them or a link in the comments.