03 October 2011

(1/3) Hurricane season is (nearly) dead; long live snowstorm season

One thing that just floored me during the Hurricane Irene scare -- for "scare" it was here in Philadelphia, an inland port city at the confluence of two rivers, not truly a coastal city -- I say, one thing that floored me was the fear, if not complete panic, and lack of preparedness I saw among some of my friends and neighbors. Here in the mid-Atlantic, we get a blizzard or a severe snowstorm at least once every winter. We get a hurricane or a severe rainstorm every summer. (And evidently we get earthquakes every once in a blue moon, as well.) Trees topple; creeks flood; transformers short out; houses blow up. In a word, your utilities are going to go out on a regular, if infrequent, basis. If you're in the city, you're likely to get your gas, water, and electric service back pretty quickly; the time you wait probably increases at a rate that correlates directly to how far out in the sticks you live. But since we live in the future, where severe weather events can be predicted with some amazing certainty even a week in advance; and since we have FEMA, mostly predictably; and since just about everybody has friends or family who can help them out in a pinch, you probably don't have to keep a year's supply of emergency rations, toiletries, and fuel in your dwelling.

But you should probably keep a week's worth of supplies on hand, and rotate the supplies so they don't get stale, infested with bugs, or depleted. Because, in the mid-Atlantic, your power will go out from time to time.

That said, why did so many of my friends and family go nuts in the last days leading up to Hurricane Irene, driving all over the Delaware Valley looking for batteries? Why did they not have fresh batteries -- or a hand-crank radio, even better -- on hand and ready to go? Candles, matches, blammo. Remember, in the summer the nights are short. Eat dinner early while it's still light out; keep a flashlight by the bed so you can find the toilet at 2:00 a.m. You're set, because even if your power does go out, it'll likely be back by the time you wake up.

Note that I'm not criticizing people in New England who were devastated, seriously unexpectedly, by the post-Irene flooding. I'm addressing pre-Irene, chicken-with-its-head-cut-off behavior in the mid-Atlantic.

Next time: the answer to the obvious retort, "Because I'm poor, that's why."

What's in your emergency supply kit? Do you have a bug-out bag, an evacuation plan, and so on? Do you buy the argument that climate change, anthropogenic or not, will likely lead to more frequent events of extreme weather? Please comment. Thanks!

Continues Tuesday.

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