“I survived Hurricane Sandy.” I really think they should give out t-shirts with that slogan on it! Actually, I came through pretty well compared to those on the coast in New York and New Jersey, so I really can’t complain too much. I live in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and for us, the worst damage from Sandy came from all the downed trees that took out power all over the place. As of today, I have been without power for a week. I learned a lot during this outage about surviving a disaster. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m still standing despite Sandy trying to take me down!
Tips for Preparing for a Storm Like Sandy
- Fill every tub in your house and every empty container with water. Do this before the power goes out, You can use the water to flush the toilets occasionally.
- Invest in sweatpants! When your house is freezing, you’ll be happy that you don’t have to put on cold jeans! Seriously, go buy a few pairs now, you’ll thank me later.
- Go a little overboard on the necessities. I thought people were crazy before Sandy hit, buying up tons of water, bread and what not. After the lights went out our area had a major shortage on water and other necessities. So go ahead and go a little overboard, especially on the non-perishables!
- If possible, get a generator. We don’t have our own, but we are so lucky that we have a good friend who got his power back right away, so he let us use his generator. Even if you don’t already have one, reach out to friends and family to see if you can borrow one. While you can’t flush your toilets or heat your home with them, having a light and a lifeline to the outside world makes a huge difference. Just be prepared to wait in long lines for gas to fill it.
- Get gas before the lights go out. Fill up your cars and get at least a day’s worth of gas for the generator, if you have one. If roads are impassable at first, or the lines are super long for the gas station, at least you’ll make it through that first day. Get more if you have the money and space for it!
Tips for Surviving After the Disaster
After the storm ends, the real surviving starts. My power went out around 9pm during the storm, and I slept to the sound of wind ripping through the woods behind my house. I had nightmares about trees coming through my window! Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I was lucky that my home was unscathed when so many others lost theirs. Living without power, though, has been a real challenge. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned on surviving a long-term power outage.
- Don’t assume you’ve been spared from a power outage just because you made it through the storm with your lights still on! Last year, when Irene struck, we made it through the whole storm without losing power. We had just let all the water out of the tubs when one last strong wind took down a line. We spent three days with no water to flush the toilets! Give it a day before you assume all is safe.
- Use your area’s emergency resources. Our area set up several shelters for Sandy victims where people could spend the night if they needed to. Some shelters even let people bring pets. They also offered hot showers, meals, and some basic essentials. Our township building gave out water and MREs (meals ready to eat). The peanut butter and crackers that come in them are actually pretty good!
- Spread the word. Don’t assume that just because you know about a resource, your neighbor does too. I found out all my info online when I got the generator. My neighbor had no idea about the shelter or the water.
- Keep informed, but don’t obsess. Reading the paper or watching the news can help you find out what is going on and where you can get help. Stalking your power company on Twitter, however, does not help. Trust me on this one!
- Huddle up with friends or family. They say misery loves company, but company can actually help take away some of the misery too! Don’t try to go it alone. Visit your neighbors, go to a friend’s or just get out of the cold house for a little while each day.
- Cry if you need to cry, laugh if you can laugh. Don’t let anyone tell you that how you feel isn’t helping matters, or that crying doesn’t solve anything. If you need to curl up in a ball and cry your eyes out, do it. Get it out, then get back to surviving. If you can find a way to laugh at the situation, even for just a moment, do that too. You may be cold, dirty, hungry, grumpy, and, by the time it’s over, mildly insane, but at least you’re alive!