Lessons from Superstorm Sandy

There is a lot of  work to do after last week's superstorm, Sandy.  The devastation was huge and help is slow getting to a lot of people.  Because we lived on Long Island for several years, we're hearing first hand from close friends about the struggles that they are having.  Many still don't have power.  There isn't much gas available which is limiting travel and even the ability to help each other.  Almost all have trees down.  We can all learn so much about preparedness as we learn from others' experiences.   Here are a few lessons from Sandy that I've made note of:

1. Be prepared for more than 72 hours. 
We always hear about 72 hour kits and you might think that it's enough.  But clearly there are some people who haven't had any help and it's been longer than a week.1  There are still areas without electricity, food or water.  Some families are still in shelters, not knowing how quickly they'll be able to return home - if ever.  The reality is that in large scale disasters, help might be slow in coming.  Be prepared with much more than for just 72 hours. 

2. Store food and water.
As usual, the stores were cleaned out of food and water quickly.  When a storm is looming, you've already missed your best chance to store these items.  Now trucks can't get into many flooded and damaged areas to replenish supplies. It's a good idea to store food and water in abundance.  Aim for at least a three-month supply.  As I mentioned above, help might not come for weeks.

3. Ask yourself, what will I do without electricity.
How will you cook?  Stay warm?  Charge your cell phone?  Run your fridge?  Do you have a Cpap or any other necessary medical equipment that requires electricity (like a fridge for insulin)?  Address these issues ahead of time.  Have what you need on hand.

4. Don't wait to evacuate.
With Sandy, too many families thought they would be okay and didn't want to evacuate until it was too late.    Don't disregard warnings from authorities because you've weathered previous storms.  Be aware of all travel routes possible and the likelihood of becoming trapped.  I always worried about this when we lived on Long Island.  Because it's an island, there just weren't very many escape routes.  During Sandy many families were trapped on islands or peninsulas because those few routes were flooded, blocked or closed.  Always listen carefully and err on the side of caution.  It's also a good idea to keep money on hand so that you'll be able to make purchases if you are required to evacuate.

5. Have flood insurance.
Most flooding happened in what is called Zone A flood areas.  Flooding is highly likely in these areas and you should always have flood insurance.

6. Be prepared even if you aren't in harm's way.
Most of our friends on Long Island weren't ever in danger of their own homes flooding.  Still they are highly affected by the flooding roads, falling trees and damage that did happen around them.  Similarly, even if you aren't flooded or primarily compromised in a disaster, you might still experience the repercussions like loss of power, blocked roads, no gas, or low stocked stores, etc.  Sometimes the problems affect people thousands of miles away.  Everyone should be prepared regardless of location and situation.

1 - http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/03/us/tropical-weather-sandy/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
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