Lessons We're Learning from Superstorm Sandy

Friday, November 2, 2012
There are so many mixed emotions surrounding the aftermath of this historic storm, from grief and disbelief, to shock, to anger and frustration.  The East coast is still very much in the thick of the disaster, and will be so for at least several more days before they can even begin to start work on clean up and recovery.  But those of us on the other side of the country would do well to observe and learn from what is going on.

The biggest thing that I'd like to point out today, is that there is only ONE person you can count on to help you out in an emergency, and that is YOU - everything else is out of your control.  The government and other agencies and law enforcement/firefighters/paramedics will do all that they can, but sometimes the devastation is so severe and there are so many needs that they just cannot attend to everyone quickly enough.  You CANNOT depend on the government or other relief agencies to immediately come to your aid - it may take time before they can help you.  And in many cases, it very well may take significantly longer than the "72-hours" we tend to talk about.

YOU need to be prepared.  YOU need to be in charge of getting preparations made.  YOU need to make plans for evacuations, sheltering in place, no power, no water, health needs, etc. YOU need to gather supplies and have them ready. 

What we're learning from this storm aftermath is that you need to plan for it to take AT LEAST 72 hours, and more likely, LONGER than that, before outside help can reach you.  So 72-hours is a good start, but don't stop there. 

  • Make sure you have a 2-week supply of water stored (1 gal per person per day, so 14 gal total per person).
  • Have several meal options in your storage or kits that DO NOT REQUIRE electricity to prepare (items that can be eaten right out of the package, like peanut butter and crackers, dried fruits, canned meats, etc.).
  • Make plans for an extended power outage.  It could take 2-3 weeks to get power fully restored to areas after a wide-spread disaster. 
  • Have a communications plan in place.  Do NOT rely on your cellphone as your main method of communication.  When the power goes out, it's only a matter of time before your cellphone battery dies.  Consider purchasing an emergency radio/flashlight with wind-up power or solar panels that can also function to charge your cell phone.  Keep a corded telephone in your home (not cordless, not wireless) - they will often still work even when your house is without electricy, whereas cordless phones will not.
  • When the local authorities issue an evacuation order, PLEASE follow it!  We are hearing so many stories of those who did not heed the evacuation orders and ended up paying for it with their lives.  Do not put yourself at risk - it is not worth it. 
  • PLEASE be mindful of neighbors around you who may need additional help, especially those who are elderly or have special needs. 

I am so touched by the many stories of people who are opening up their homes, sharing their food, sharing their electricity and other resources with neighbors, friends and in many cases complete strangers!  What a blessing to be able to serve others like this!  But we cannot serve others if we have not made our own preparations FIRST.