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Hurricane Sandy and her aftermath have been a test of preparedness at all levels.  I’m curious to hear from those of you who went through the storm about what you expected versus what happened.  I’d also like to know what preparations you made that turned out to be useful, versus what you did that turned out to not have been a factor.  I’d also like to hear any lessons y’all learned, especially things that you wish you’d done to get ready for the storm.

I’d like to use what you can tell us to appraise my own prepping, and as a resource for someone who is beginning their work to do, buy, and learn things that will help them in an emergency.  Please leave your thoughts in comments.  Feel free to link to your own posts that deal with the subject if you’re doing your own write-up.  Thanks!

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  1. we were mostly ready. here’s my rundown of how things went.

    on Friday, knowing the power wouldn’t stay off longer than a week, i moved all food in the freezer to the bottom two shelves and filled every empty container we had with water…loaded the other three shelves with those containers. this gave the water plenty of time to freeze by Monday.
    Chris filled the gas cans for the generator over the weekend.
    we inventoried our nonperishables, refrigerated, and frozen food, and determined the best order in which to eat things to avoid loss. in previous storms we’d lost quite a lot of frozen/refrigerated food, and we’ve kept fewer perishables on hand because of it. this worked in our favor. due to all the ice in the freezer, we didn’t have to worry about plugging that into the generator. we did plug the fridge in for at least a few hours each day, so we were able to save everything in there. my wallet is relieved.
    we had acquired Big Agnes sleeping bags prior to this storm, and these worked in our favor. even with the cold seeping into the house, those bags are cooooooomfy. in fact, i wish i’d had a liner to make me a little more comfortable – i was sweating, the bag was so hot, and i’d have preferred to have a “sheet” (the liner) to go with my “blanket” (the bag itself). Chris was very comfortable in his bag. we had a firearm in the living room with us, and we moved the generator indoors every night when we turned it off so no one decided to steal it. i think i’d have avoided turning on so many lights in the house, but it did help the psyche a bit. we had books on hand, we took naps, and if we were feeling particularly bored we could have played board games. we also ran the TV for awhile and watched a few things on our Roku box (look into one of these – they don’t take much energy to run, and since we have a wireless hotspot device, we actually had usable Internet to stream video). i’m VERY pleased this worked out, as we were downright comfortable, if chilly.

    i really can’t think of anything we would have done differently. we’d like to have a patch panel on the house so we could just plug the generator in to the wall to avoid running extension cords everywhere. i’d also like to be somewhere other than Baltimore the next time we have to weather a storm, but that can’t be changed for awhile yet. oh, and i’d love a woodstove…before power was restored on Wednesday, i’m told it was hitting the low 50s in the house. oh, and i very nearly ran out of cider. i hit saturation point with just one bottle left. this outage was “short” compared to what we’re used to, so i obviously need to spend the money on a case instead of 12 bottles. 😀

    so, things for which i am grateful:
    *gas stove and gas water heater. we did not lose hot water and we could cook. this is something i’m considering a requirement in any future house.
    *generator. self-explanatory.
    *well-planned food usage. see above. we threw NOTHING out. can’t say the same for the last few power outages.
    *a good neighbor network. people looked out for each other, and we kept in contact with each other. we had friends over Monday night to let them charge devices and watch the news, so we gave each other entertainment and friendship. i’m glad they came over and i think they’re glad they did, too.


    • Thanks fenix! Glad y’all are doing OK!


      • thanks. i’m glad we are, too. we were mostly worried about parents’ power – my mom’s on a drug that requires refrigeration and Chris’s grandmother needs electricity for a breathing machine she uses a few times per day. as long as they were alright, we were fine.


  2. What we expected: I followed the forecast track pretty closely, and the path pretty much stayed directly over my house – or at least within a +/- 30 mile range. Predicted intensity varied from strong tropical storm to strong tropical depression. Rain forecasts started around 6″ and kept creeping down as it got closer, wind forecasts stayed the same – 40-60 and gusting higher.

    We went out Sunday with a few goals in mind, nothing too critical. We topped off the three empty gas cans from summer lawnmowing, refilled a kerosene can for our space heater, and picked up a half-dozen cans of soup. It’s all stuff we’ll use anyways, just a little motivation to get it wrapped up in one shot.

    We got home, fired up the generator for a while, and put away everything that might blow away.

    Monday morning MrsZ went to work, and I puttered around the house enjoying my day off. Work called me mid-day and asked me to come in for the evening. I checked with MrsZ and took the overtime.

    I packed a bag with a couple changes of clothes, put a few cans of soup and a box of pasta in a bag, tossed a mag of social ammo on top, and an AR in the back seat.

    Around here, we had no major damage – some trees and wires came down, but nothing more.


    • That about matches mine, except for the generator. A prolonged power outage would have been our only stumbling block. Otherwise we were good to go and I can honestly say that the only thing I did special in preperation was make sure all the gas cans were full. Otherwise everything we needed was in the house/on the property already. Which was a bit of a relief to discover actually. I did pick up some extra pasta type foods just in case, but again its all stuff we’ll eat otherwise.


    • I forgot some salient points… my truck had a 3/4-full tank, and we topped off MrsZ’s car when we did the cans. I swapped the hitch ball on my truck for a recovery shackle – excellent for moving trees from roadways with a good strap and chain.

      We always have several flats of bottled water in the cellar, and we spent most of the summer canning and putting up fruits, veggies, and meat. (Dinner tonight, which is simmering away, is ALL from our cans and freezer.)


  3. Coop

     /  November 2, 2012

    For our Preparation; Water, Food and essentials were readily stocked. Firewood for heat was moved to an area where it would remain dry. Flashlights Candles, lanterns, waterproof/strike anywhere matches, etc, were inventoried. Shotguns and shells were inspected and ready for action if need be. Over the past year I had filled dozens of empty soda and milk jugs with water that I froze for ice packs, along with a bevvy of coolers, food storage was covered for the anticipated 3-4 days without power. Tents and sleep bags were readied in the event we had to bug out.

    In addition I had charged up all of my cordless tools in the event I needed to do emergency repairs to the roof, windows, etc. Chainsaw was not “prepped”, but I had used it just a month ago and stored it with intention of using it again this fall, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

    I think the preparations were appropriate, but only for 3-4 days. At this point I’m told to expect another week without power. Fortunately the business area of town is open for business, so we can re-supply. Since we have a private well and no power the biggest headache is running water. Heat is bit of a problem as the fireplace can only heat so much. A wood or pellet stove would be a better source for heat. Fuel is still an issue but I have a boat on a trailer as my 80 gallon safety net. We have since re-located to my in-laws as they have generator power.

    Without the kindness of family and friends this would have been a much more difficult situation.

    In the short term (1 to 6m), I will restock with a 7-10 day supply of the essentials at a minimum. Our neighborhood has natural gas service, but I think I need to prepare for that service to be interrupted with a supply of propane tanks.

    Mid term (6m to 1 year)- I’m trying to resist a knee jerk reaction of buying a gas generator. I had planned to buy a permanent generator when we remodeled the house, but I think that purchase may be placed on the short to mid-term list. For that to happen, I will have to use the money that I planned to use to build a new shed.

    Long Term (1+ year), As I mentioned, we had planned on remodeling the house, hopefully about 1 year from now. I will now begin researching for items that I can install during the remodeling that will better prepare my house for extended weather events. (Wood Stove, Cisterns, Bury the service from the pole to our house, improve drainage around the foundation to prevent flooding)


  4. Interesting post and comments – thanks


  5. I didn’t go through a hurricane, I just had to evacuate quickly for a different disaster… I get the impression you still want the data?

    What we learned: Have your priorities in mind for what you’re going to save and transport, before you have to roll out. It was not hard for us, they sorted themselves pretty fast when we faced the question. Computer hardwared with valuable data, packable firearms (all of them, I could have invaded a neighboring state with my load), important paperwork, pets, and necessary medications.

    More meta; who you know is vastly more important than what you did, if you’re evacuating and not weathering through. We had at least three offers for an indefinite port in the storm that were solid and good for us + pets, and they were all friends. They also helped us keep in touch and keep other friends and family updated.

    We’re humans, we do best in small community groups. Cultivate those links, they keep you way safer in most disasters than dehydrated food.


    • Thanks LabRat. Your input is always welcome, and having a support network is an important part of preparation.


  6. auntiejl

     /  November 9, 2012

    We had very little in the way of problems, for being in southcentral PA and thus in what was projected as being the “bad path” of the storm.

    Our lights flickered once. We never lost power.

    We made sure we had things we could grill if needed, and dry cereals and extra ice and bottled water, just in case.

    Thankfully none of our preparations were needed. We had a lot of rain, and some impressive winds, but the most damage to our neighborhood was a big branch that fell in the middle of the street and was immediately removed by our neighbors.

    In the event that we need a place to store stuff, stuff that can survive being wet and not be spoiled, well, we always have our bomb shelter. (Perks of a house built in 1959.)


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