Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Lessons and Observations

Holes in my Preps:

Lighting sources
  • I need more oil and wicks for my hurricane lamps
  • I have two lamps but one doesn't have a chimney--need to get one
  • I did go out and buy some little votive candle holders--didn't have any of those

  • I'm a little concerned about my food in the freezer but I have a plan if things start to go bad.  
  • I didn't have a cooler, so I went out and bought one.
  • Ice or frozen things.  I didn't get any bags of ice.  Instead I put cases of bottles of water in the freezer and moved to the cooler.
  • I wish I would've cooked more-- like a roast or whole chicken to have quickie foods to eat.
  • Water-- we didn't have the water storage we usually do because we've been using it a lot recently. Left that to the last minute but thankfully we were able to find plenty.  I think we were able to get 17 cases of 24 bottles.  I hate that I was unprepared for that.  I did have 14 cases in the food room but that's not enough if the water isn't potable.
  • I wish the house was cleaner.
  • I wish ALL the laundry was done including sheets.
  • I'm not convinced that we shouldn't have boarded up our windows.
  • I'm annoyed that my neighbors aren't taking care to clean up their yards. Don't know what I could've done about that.
  • We didn't take good care of our generators.  One of them wouldn't start so thankfully we were able to sell it for $300 the morning of the hurricane.  Thank goodness for Craigslist.
  • We need to run the generators once every couple of months. We started with three.  One didn't work and we lent one to Sam's mom and kept the biggest and newest for us.  Who would've thought we'd be down to one.  Crazy!

What I've done right:

  • Have and found my hurricane lamp and oil.
  • Had all my flashlights and lanterns in one place.  Checked them all to make sure there were no corroded batteries.
  • Pulled out one of my crank flashlights that is supposed to also charge a cell phone.  The charger part did not work.  Good to know so I don't have to worry about making that work. But, need to find out if there is a device that would work.
  • I do have solar yard lights that we can use also.

  • Taking the advice from a good friend and mentor in preparedness, Cheryl Driggs (, I bought some pudding cups and fruit cups for the kids as something fun to eat.  I never buy those and they've been begging me to eat them ever since I brought them home.
  • I also bought some Reese's Peanut Butter cups (lots of those) mostly for Sam but the kids will beg for those as well.
  • Other fun food I bought:  sugar wafers, strawberry frosted Pop Tarts (for me), cookies, cake mixes (to use in the dutch oven or solar oven), other various crackers and cookies.
  • We cooked 11 lbs of pasta and put them in gallon sized bags in the fridge and freezer.  My thought is that we're not going to want to use the fuel or the water to cook it when we want it.  This way we'll be able to add a little pasta sauce or butter and have some comfort food.  You may think that's a lot, but trust me--for this family it'll be gone in a couple of days.  We eat a lot of pasta anyway and if we need to share, that'll help too.

  • We cleaned up the backyard spic and span.  Flipped over the trampoline.  
  • Got all the laundry done...almost (at this writing just before the winds are about to hit)
  • The house is fairly clean.  
  • Flashlights are loaded with fresh batteries, oil lamp is trimmed and ready, other candles on the counter ready to be used if needed.
  • I have plenty of ways to cook without power.
  • Purchased fresh bleach and disinfectant wipes.
  • Have plenty of wipes and diapers for the baby.  Wipes for us to use too.
  • I got a great deal on propane tanks fro Craigslist a few weeks ago.  6 tanks for $80.  We had all of those filled.  Plus we have about 4 more that were partially filled.  I feel comfortable that we'd be able to cook on my Camp Chef stoves if we lose power.
  • My dad gave us a butane stove a few months ago with a set of 4 butane fuel canisters.  This will allow us to cook indoors if necessary.  The stoves cost around $20 on Amazon.  That's a very inexpensive investment in prepping.

The strong part of the storm hasn't hit yet as of 9pm on Saturday August 27.  We've had one little blip of a power outage.  Hardly lasted a second.  I've heard that surrounding areas are losing power.  That stinks.

I have one more load in the washer to go into the dryer.  I'm hoping for just a little more time.  Fingers crossed.  

I'm anxious for this next phase.  I've heard reports from friends down in Virginia how horrible the winds are.  Lots of trees are falling.  I do worry a bit about our house.  Sam and I toured our yard.  He thinks we'll be alright.  I'm kinda wishing we had boarded up the windows.  I'll know on the other side of this storm if that was a mistake.

I can say that I'm worried.  I wish the hard part of this storm would've hit during the day instead of the middle of the night.  Oh well.  I'm concerned about potential flooding in the house.  My neighbors didn't clean up their yards.  Even when we asked if we could help them move their outside furniture, they just said they'd turn it over.  They've got bird feeders and bird baths and all sorts of other crap all around their house.  It's rude to not take care.  Their stuff isn't just going to stay in their yard and only effect them.  Their carelessness will potential effect this entire neighborhood.  That angers me too.

I am SO tired.  I haven't slept well in the last three nights and I've been working so hard to get the house and family ready for the storm.  Will I sleep tonight with the storm raging?  I don't know.  I'm finding myself extremely apprehensive.  

I was originally going to leave and take the kids to Virginia.  That may have been the better choice but I would've been sick with worry to be away from Sam.


I praise God that this storm was not nearly as bad as it could've been for our area here in NJ.  We did take in a little bit of water in the basement but not bad at all.  Our electricity stayed on throughout the storm and we were able to receive statellite tv transmission for most of the night.  We did lost internet and cable.  Sam had a wireless "hot spot" device that allowed us to maintain access to the internet.  That was a blessing as well.

The kids slept out in the living room together.  I went to bed still a bit nervous of the forthcoming high winds and the repeated tornado warnings.  I would say that we were not prepared for the potential of tornadoes.  I've got to mull that one over a bit.  Our basement is full of moving boxes that have been packed, so it would've been a very uncomfortable night if we would've had to stay down there all night.  In our new house, I'll make sure we have a room that is finished and comfortable for hunkering down there in case of a tornado.

Other things on our "would've done" list are:
  • clean out the refrigerator and freezer as one of the first things to do to accommodate ice and other extra foods such as milk and water bottles
  • have some "blue ice" frozen and ready for the cooler
  • Sam wishes he would've had a good trailer with a flip down tailgate for moving the generators and other opportunities of service.  We'll work on getting one of those.
  • lighting--as mentioned above
  • more practice with my alternate sources of cooking in case the power would've gone out - solar oven, volcano stove with the dutch ovens
  • general organization - just being able to find what I need when I need it.  I did pretty well with that, but there is WAY more organizing that could've been in place.  In my own defense, I am in the process of packing and moving my house.  BUT, because of a great iPhone app, I was able to find a couple of the things I needed in boxes that had been packed.  The app is call "Box It Up".  I highly recommend it.
  • One of the things I did in anticipation of being without power for a while is to print math worksheets for the kids.  My friend Cheryl Driggs advised others to get back to a sense of normalcy after the storm regardless of the power.  So, I made plans to school the kids throughout the upcoming weeks.  I'm glad for that counsel, but glad that we get to maintain our current lifestyle.
  • I did get all the laundry done - in fact, as I pulled the last load out of the dryer, I thanked God and told him it was ok if the power went out now, but quickly relayed that I'd appreciate it if it never went off. :)  Ha!  
  • I'm glad I stayed with the family as a whole.  I'm glad I got to practice preparing.  Glad I didn't have to use them, though.
  • Funny story:  I bought the pudding cups for the kids to have something fun to eat.  Leah, my five year old, kept begging to have on all day Saturday.  I kept telling her they were for later when the power went out.  Sunday morning she asked for one.  I told her that because the power never went out, no pudding cup.  Poor thing. :)  Actually after I giggled for a bit, I told her to enjoy one for breakfast.  So cute.
Most of all I am thankful for God's merciful hand during this storm.  I'm so grateful for the lessening of the storm.  Most look at it as the weather people and media hyping this storm to be worse that it was.  I know in my heart and soul that it was the good Lord and His mercy that prevented a major catastrophe.  Say what you will, I know He lives and He loves us.  I know He answers prayers and is kind and loving.  I'm thankful that I was able to see where my preparations were lacking without experiencing the consequences of them.  I'm thankful for the sudden thought of inspiration that would come to me during the preps.  I'm thankful for others' experiences and their words of wisdom that helped guide me.


dbever said...

Thanks for the comments and observations, definitely food for thought!!

David in Dallas

Anne said...

One more idea--we take 2 litre soda bottles, fill them 3/4 full with water (after cleaning them) and always keep one or two in our freezer. A fuller freezer takes less energy to run, and when power goes out, it helps keep things cold. If the water melts, you can drink it. 2 liter bottles of water also are great for washing hands, flushing toilets, cooking, and lots of other uses. And since nearly everyone buys soda at one time or another, they are easy to get, and portable.

Christopher said...

We also keep 2 liter bottles in the freezer when space allows. Another reason to do so is because the energy in the ice will keep the freezer colder longer if the power goes out. It also is always ready to put in a cooler if we need ice to keep things cold.