We were thankfully spared Hurricane Sandy’s wrath – just a few downed branches and a lot of debris tossed about the yard. Our SC house (the usual target of hurricanes and tropical storms) came through just fine (thankfully, as my parents are staying there!). SC was spared this particular hurricane.
One thing that stands out to me after the storm though is the preparation process. When Sandy was pretty firmly predicted to hit NJ, I did what I assumed everyone did – filled the gas tank, bought supplies and started baking.
I posted this on several networks, including Facebook, and the responses were surprising. Every Southerner asked what I was cooking, if the propane tank was full on the grill and if I had filled up the gas tanks in the cars. Northerners thought cooking up a storm before the storm was weird or surprising, and were mostly fighting over the last loaf of bread at Target. I had just assumed that “everyone” knew what to do when an unprecedented storm came, since they come so often.
But they don’t. Not here, anyway.
Floyd, Bertha, Bonnie, Fran, Ivan…these are just a few of the big storms I remember, prepared for and lived through on the SC coast. But just like our little Southern beach towns were totally unprepared for the very few snowfalls we’ve seen in the last decade , the folks here in NJ had no idea how to prepare for a real tropical storm. For my Southern neighbors, though, that inch of snow meant every adult on our block was out playing in the street and marveling at the snow at 6am – and school was cancelled for 2-3 days. A hurricane strike here in NJ has had much more serious consequences.
Obviously you should stock up on the basics like bottled water -- but what else should you do?
I thought everyone did the same thing to prepare for a hurricane – but just in case you’ve never been in one, I hope some of this info helps!
For our Northern friends and neighbors, here are a few things to remember and do before the next Sandy comes along:
1. Watch the tropics, but don’t obsess: New reports usually come from NOAA at 8, 11, 2 and 5, around the clock. That frantic report at 10am, a full week before a storm is close? That’s based on the 8am advisory. Get your news direct from NOAA – read the actual advisory and look at the models. Look for more frequent updates the day the storm makes impact, but until then, true “breaking” news related to the actual weather is only available at these advisory times. I like WeatherUnderground.com – they seem to be the most factual and least likely to twist reports for maximum news impact.
2. Fill up…everything: Head to the gas station and fill up every car you have and a gas can too. You’ll need that extra gas if stations are closed (lack of electricity or unsafe conditions can close gas stations, and keep them closed long after a storm has passed). Fill up the propane tank for your grill – and have an extra handy. You can not only cook burgers on your grill, you can boil water for safe consumption – and coffee!
3. Get cash: Don’t wait until the last minute – hit the ATM and get actual cash. If the power goes out, ATMS won’t work – or they can and do run out of cash after a storm.
4. Eat the perishables, and don’t buy more: In the days before the storm, eat the perishables in the freezer – steak, burgers, whatever won’t last if the power goes out. I never stock our freezer well in the summer for this very reason. Cook them up and make dinner and you won’t have to worry about losing that pricey tenderloin you’ve got stashed away.
5. Bake: Why baking? That question is what started this lengthy post! Baking converts perishable items like butter and eggs into nonperishable items like cookies, granola, muffins and more. You’ll end up with more good food on hand, and less to worry about in the fridge.
6. Distribute supplies: I have 4 kids and several cats (each of whom took one look outside the day Sandy struck and hid under the bed in the in-law suite for the next 24 hours). Due to our large kitty/kid population, I don’t use real candles, so I distributed the lanterns and flashlights at strategic places upstairs and downstairs. I also put a flameless candle in each bedroom, just in case. Even if a storm hits during the day, it gets dark inside! I also pulled together a few books and other items for each of the kids, to be used only when the storm hit.
7. Babies and Pets: Animals act weird before a storm, not sure why. We rounded up our chickens a full day early and secured everyone in the barn, with two days’ worth of food. I did check on them in the early hours of the storm, before it got too bad, but wanted to make sure they were ok, just in case. Grab some extra pet food – and if you have a baby, some baby supplies as well.
8. Charge everything: Laptops, cell phones, even the kids sadly neglected DS’s -- we charged them all. If it casts light or can be used for entertainment when the power is out, get it charged and keep it charged, you’ll be glad you did.
9. Freeze water: Toss a few bottles of water into the freezer – just shove one into any exposed space. They’ll freeze and keep everything in there cold for a while if you lose power.
Hope these ideas help someone (though I certainly hope they aren’t needed anytime soon!)