Hurricane Lessons: Social, Security, and Final Thoughts
I am not a social person, but my wife sure is. Being cooped up in the house with me for two weeks would put anyone on edge, but more importantly, she needed a real community. We had a few hurricane parties at friend’s houses, and they helped a great deal. Sitting around a table and sharing news was a welcome break from gathering wood and trying to stay warm. The fact that we all gathered at a friend’s house that had a working, hot shower didn’t hurt morale either.
Our local rescue squad also had a pasta night that was a huge hit. It was obvious to me that this was different than any other power failure when I commented that it felt strange to be in a room where I didn’t need to wear a coat. The hour or so we spent in the first aid squad building, with its industrial generator, heat, hot water, and food, was a vacation from the realities of a cold, dark life without power. The more time we spent around other people, the more we felt like the world was not ending. As it turns out, that’s good for morale. Who knew?
It was also interesting to see how the conversations changed over the course of the outage. In the matter of a few days our priorities went from “I can’t wait for the new iPhone to come out!” to, “Do you have enough heat? How about food? Do you folks need any help?” Situations like this really put life into perspective – a perspective that most of us have since lost since the power came back on.
Adventure movies like to show how the lone musclebound hero can survive anything armed with nothing but a loincloth and a knife. The reality is usually quite the opposite, especially when trouble hits in the months when loincloths simply aren’t fashionable. Just watch a few episodes of The Walking Dead to see how even the smallest of communities are good for survival. Sure, we had no shambling undead clogging our streets (this time), but my point is that survival in a group is almost always easier than it is alone.
I won’t go into the details of our security, but I encourage you to go into the details of your own. Consider the fact that there was looting, widespread panic, and people sleeping with shotguns not far from us and I think you’ll get the point. On the whole, people behaved very well where we live, but there were stories of generators and gas cans being stolen, and in the areas with severe damage, the State Troopers had to keep the peace at gas lines. One more week without gas, food, and communication, and this storm might have been an entirely different event. Be safe. The veneer of society is thinner than many people realize.
Being fit is FAR more useful than not. For two weeks I was cutting, splitting and hauling wood. As a result, I’m still sore. Adding a daily workout plan can save your life in an emergency or disaster situation. Thank God I didn’t have to outrun one of those new fast-moving zombies.
We thought we were prepared, and to a certain extent, we were. We simply never anticipated a storm of this severity that would affect us for multiple weeks. We won’t make that mistake again. Probably the biggest change we’ve made as a result of this storm is the addition of a generator. If you’ve considered getting one, my advice is to do it now. Waiting until you need one may make sense financially for the short term, but it’s better to have one and not need it than it is to need it and not have one, or worse, not be able to get one.
In the end, being prepared is a far better choice than not. My advice is to carefully consider just how long your preparations will last, because in our case, it wasn’t as long as we thought. Sure, we’re prepared for a longer outage now, but what would happen if the power went out for a month or two? Or a year? Are you ready?
If you think it can’t happen, consider this: Large stretches of New Jersey were destroyed, and months later have still not been rebuilt. All of this damage was cause by wind. Sure, it was hurricane-force wind, that brought the power of the ocean inland, but it was just water and air. We all exist at the whim of Mother Nature. Power, food and gas delivery, and all the conveniences of modern life were taken away from us for two weeks – by wind and water. Just imagine if the cause were something more sinister or widespread. You don’t need to be a doomsday prepper to be prepared for a storm. Zombies on the other hand… well, that’s a topic for another post.