As far as storms go, it didn’t last long. Maybe twenty minutes. But the intensity made up for the lack of duration. Preceded by thunder and lightning then followed up by a blast of high wind and then a deluge of rainfall that dropped a bunch of rain in a very short period of time.
Hundreds of trees in our region went down and in the process the electricity went out. Over 13,000 customers just in the local area alone were without power. Roofs blew off, trees fell across houses, roads and fences and the only grocery store in our city closed its doors. With no electricity the gas stations closed and those with their tank on “E” simply had no recourse.
At my house, we retrieved the Coleman stove, broke out the cast iron cookware and made breakfast. Camping in became the order of the day with Yahtzee replacing wi-fi fueled electronics. And reading actual books helped pass the time instead of watching TV.
Later in the day the generator provided energy for the fridge. My wife even vacuumed the living room carpet, thanks to the generator. A craving for snacks, and I hooked up the microwave and the odor of popcorn soon wafted throughout the house. Propane lanterns provided light (and some warmth) until bedtime.
There is a certain segment of the population who doesn’t plan or prepare. These folks go to the grocery store nearly every day to wander the aisles and decide what to have for dinner. Here’s a money-saving tip: Plan for a week in advance, then go shopping on Sunday afternoon and get what you’re going to need. Not only will you save big bucks, but if for some reason the store is closed, you can smugly prepare your meal with no worries. And here’s another: When your gas tank hits the “half” mark, fill up. It costs no more to drive on the upper half of the tank than the lower half. Then when you get that call at 2:00 AM that your rich aunt is in the hospital a hundred miles away, you’ve got the means to get there if all the gas stations are closed.
Now about power failures: Call your power company to report the outage. I have always been of the opinion they know the electricity is out and my call is only going to add to their workload. Not so, electric companies want to know where you are and exactly when your power failed. It may show a pattern that helps track the problem and assist in a strategy to get the lights back on. And remember, do not call 911 to find out when the power is coming back. Your power outage is not an emergency and all you’re doing is clogging up the emergency dispatch lines. If you need to know when the electricity will be restored, call your power company. They usually have a recorded message with the appropriate information.
The lesson here is DO SOMETHING to prepare! If a 20 minute wind storm can cause this much havoc and disrupt our lives like this, can you imagine what a major earthquake would do? Now is the time to lay in some extra non-perishable food items, a case or two of bottled water, some batteries, a box of candles…well you get the idea. After something happens is way too late to prepare.
As always, send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”