Lesson Learned from Hurricane Sandy – Be Prepared for Multiple Events

By some, Hurricane Sandy was dubbed “The Frankenstorm.” If brought with it many challenges, both to those who were unprepared and to those who were prepared. Here is what I have learned from reading scores of articles from storm survivors.

You need to be prepared for multiple events. Hurricanes don’t just bring wind and rain, they can bring flooding, electrocution, being killed by a falling tree and also fire. Fire is not something that is normally associated with torrential rain and flooding.

You also need to be prepared for other events. Freezing temperatures when you have no heat, trees that become weakened and fall days later, violence that is due to scarce gasoline and food resources, even secondary storms on top of the original one.

When you’re prepared, you don’t have to fret about empty shelves in the grocery stores, pumps that are out of gas or not operating, roads closing.

The time to prepare is before a threat appears. After a threat appears, you must evaluate your preparations and then act quickly.

Obvious things to do are cut down selected trees that could be a problem. That way you will reduce your risk of property damage and death. Also, clean your gutters to reduce chances of flooding near the house. This won’t prevent a deluge from rolling through your neighborhood, but if your area is just subjected to heavy rains, it will help.

You need to also make sure your car and home in good order.

When it comes down to it, some parts of survival can depend on your neighbors and local friends, not the state or federal government. The neighbor with the chain saw will be able to cut down the tree blocking your exit from your home. The friend the next town over who will lend you a generator to keep you warm.

My point is that it is much better to prepare yourself and be friends with your neighbors, so you can all help each other in a disaster. You can’t rely on government to save you. Government will be overwhelmed in a major disaster. It’s just a fact they can’t take care of everyone.

In general, it is guaranteed that most of the people you know will not be prepared. And it is better to be in a position to help than in one of need. Extra items can also be used to barter.

Remember that things can turn out to be different than you expect, so prepare for several possible outcomes.


Hurricane Sandy Aftermath Demonstrates Government Can’t Take Care of You

The FDR Drive flooded next to Manhattan neighborhood East Village.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The FDR Drive flooded next to Manhattan neighborhood East Village.

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated how incredibly fragile the thin veneer of civilization really is. Many of the hardest hit areas along the Jersey shore and the coast of Long Island quickly descended into a state of anarchy.

Let’s rewind back to before the storm hit and say you are a married couple who has a small child and a pet. Most people will do a version of the following:

  • You go to the store for flashlights, batteries and bottles of water.
  • You also stock up on Power Bars, toilet paper and dog food.
  • You pick up some extra food.
  • You pick up a collection of movies to keep your child entertained during the storm.
  • You charge your cell phones and every other gadget you own.
  • You fill all of your bathtubs with water.
  • You talk to your child about what to expect during the storm.

With your preparations made, you wait for the storm to come. When it does, you are content for the first few hours, at least for part of a day. That is until the power goes off.

The next thing to go out is cell phone communication. So, no calls out from your recently-charged phone. You must rely on your land-line phone. That is if you still have one. A lot of people are opting to turn off their land line phones and just keep a cell phone.

You find you can use water from the bathtub to fill the toilet. That allows you to flush and keep everyone in a better mood (because there’s no smell).

How about the iPad? Welcome to cloud computing. The internet’s down so you have no access to news or current information.

Fast forward two days. You are one of the lucky ones and had no storm damage. However, you still have no electricity, no heat, no TV, no internet and no cell phone coverage. And the two days worth of food you keep around the house is nearly gone. You’re used to going to the store several times a week and right now that is starting to seem like it was a bad idea.

Fast forward to the start of the third day. Your child is hungry, so you decide to venture beyond your neighborhood and look for supplies. As you get nearer to the shopping area, you see the long lines of people and the tempers flying. The question on everyone’s mind is where is the government? Why aren’t they delivering food and water to us?

The truth of the matter is the government does not have the ability to supply food and water to everyone in a major disaster. And it is unrealistic for you to think so.

For Hurricane Sandy, FEMA had a “lean forward” strategy that called for advanced staging of supplies for emergency distribution. However, that failed to live up to its billing in the immediate aftermath of the storm. This is strangely reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.

Folks, you must realize that you are on your own after a disaster. You must make preparations for your family because most likely, help will never arrive. Or it will arrive too late.

Don’t expect to sit back and be taken care of after a major disaster. The responsibility to take care of your family is on you.