Aftermath of a Storm — Preparing for Future Disasters


When I saw dad today, he was sitting in the lobby as he often is. The Assisted Living Facility had full power today. I was told the electricity was restored yesterday. I don’t know if dad even realized it had been out as the generator supplied enough to have some lights in every room and to run the kitchen and lobby lights.

I had brought dad more Depends and brought those down to his room. I always check around and saw he left me a note on a napkin. It said: “Provolone, Pretzels, Pepsi”. I put the napkin in my purse to remind me while I was at the store.

While my family seems to have escaped most of the Superstorm’s effects, others in our region have not been as lucky. There are still some families without power here in our town and the Red Cross set up a several shelters for them to keep warm. Of course, it is much worse in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area and my heart goes out to the families and individuals involved.

I have been without electricity for more than a week as a result of a hurricane once and an ice storm once. It was enough to teach me to prepare in advance of any possible interruption of electricity and other services.

At this time I hope that those of you who have escaped the storm are able to contact family and friends still in the disaster area. I finally heard from most of my family and a few of my friends. Family members in the immediate disaster area don’t expect electricity for more than a week and are already getting cold.

They are searching for ways to recharge cell phones and other devices. They are also seeking ways to return their lives to normal while learning that schools, workplaces, doctors, post offices and libraries are all closed due to the lack of electricity.

I want to point out that you can make a donation to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org  This is one of many organizations that are always ready to help in small or large disasters. If you have another favorite charity such as through your church or community fund drive, please consider donating there. It is easier to view the destruction on television knowing I have done at least a little to mitigate the harm.

In addition, today I want to encourage all families, and especially those who care for small children or the elderly, to build your own disaster kit to keep at hand all the time in advance of hurricanes, winter storms, earthquakes and any other disasters expected in your area.

I was lucky enough to be employed by an agency that required all employees to be trained and ready for disasters. We were given a disaster kit to keep at work and encouraged to bring in our personal items to add to it, such as a week’s worth of prescription medications, an extra pair of eyeglasses, etc.

We were also encouraged to set up a home disaster kit with enough supplies for our immediate family to survive for 3 days or more without outside help. Lists of necessary supplies can be found at the Red Cross website in the disaster preparation section: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit

The Red Cross also sells disaster supplies and individual and family kits. Or you can make your own. I have both a small individual kit and a larger backpack with items listed on the Red Cross page. I have a flashlight that works with a crank rather than batteries, and also a regular flashlight. I have a radio that works with a crank also and there is a regular radio in my kitchen that works with batteries in addition to the power plug.

I update some of the supplies regularly such as the prescription medications and the batteries. Otherwise the batteries would be out of date when I really needed them. I know a lot of people are starting to get angry with their local and state governments now that it is 3 days after the landfall of this huge storm.

Nevertheless, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to be prepared to sustain ourselves and our families for at least a week at survival levels with sufficient food and water and warm clothing. It is always nice if we are among the first to be rescued, to get back our electricity or to have a disaster supply station nearby when we need it.

But that usually won’t be the case. I have lived in states where the primary disaster expected was an earthquake and we prepared constantly for “The Big One” which will surely come some day but hasn’t yet.

I have also lived in states where hurricanes are the primary disaster expected, and sure enough I was hit by one big enough there, but actually only a category 1. So I know things might have been much worse. Now I no longer have children at home. I live alone but feel total responsibility for my father as well.

However, his primary care in a disaster is legally in the hands of his assisted living facility. Still, it is up to me to determine that they are up to the task and to be there if they are unable to provide safe care for him. I learned last year that in an instant he could be transferred to a hospital and then they are no longer responsible for his care.

I try to stay informed about what is happening at his assisted living facility and in my community as a whole. If there were a community wide disaster that required that we evacuate to another location, I would probably want to take dad with me to be sure I always know where he is.

I do not anticipate such an event, but I know such a thing is possible. I think about the people on television after hurricane Katrina and I know I would not have wanted my parents (who were both alive at that time) to be stuck in that situation where elderly people were literally dying from neglect because the entire system was overloaded with need and little relief was available.

So today’s post is to remind myself and my followers that we all have to be vigilant about the possibility of disasters at all times and to be prepared in advance. I actually filled my gas tank on Friday because of the storm since it wasn’t empty – just half full and I usually only fill it once a month. (Yes, I drive only locally and not that many miles.).

I also bought an extra 3 jugs of water even though I didn’t anticipate losing access to city water and I already had a case of individual bottles for normal use. The jugs of water will last for years now that I have stashed them in the garage. The other water I will use over time, though I tend to refill them from the filtered water jug I keep in the refrigerator.

The current storm has mostly past. Many people are still coping with the immediate disaster aftermath. If you just got back your electricity or you never lost it, now is the time to prepare for the next time. It is a good time to re-evaluate and determine what you absolutely need.

During the aftermath of the hurricane that I was in, over 10 years ago, while I sat in the dark, I made a list. I listed all the things I wished I had at hand, starting with more D batteries. I also listed foods, phone numbers and information that was on my computer but unavailable without electricity, etc. I used that list to start my first disaster kit. Over the years I have upgraded the kit and added new items.

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Disaster Preparation, Eldercare, Family, Superstorm and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Aftermath of a Storm — Preparing for Future Disasters

  1. terry1954 says:

    i am glad all is well with dad, and i think that what you wrote is so important. always be prepared, we always think it will never happen to us

    • Thanks, Terry. I’m glad he is doing well too. I have been thinking about disaster preparation since before the hurricane hit NJ on Monday as we all had days or more to prepare. Many people who are now out of gas could have filled before the store but didn’t remember that it is so hard to get gas afterwards. It always happens because it takes electricity to pump gas. I hope more people remember next time. There are many ways to prepare but no way to be certain you have prepared enough until afterwards.

      • terry1954 says:

        you wonder why people wait, they are warnings way in advance, but i think they are fearful of leaving their loving homes, and also they think it won’t be as bad, and maybe some don’t think about gas. i don’t know, but i feel bad for everyone, and as God says, always be prepared, for I will come in a blink of the eye

      • Yes, I always wonder why they wait. Most don’t believe it will be as bad as they say. Some are unable to evacuate and some are afraid to leave cherished belongings. But life is most important and I would like to see people put their lives and their children’s lives first before the belongings. And I would like to see neighbors helping neighbors if people don,t have vehicles or whatever they need to evacuate. Shelters are usually set up so it need not be costly to get a room in a hotel, etc. but if family is nearby that is usually a more comfortable option. Whatever the reasons, I would like to see more people heed the warnings rather than complaining later that they didn’t get help when they were in trouble from things being worse than anticipated.

      • terry1954 says:

        I agree, I saw on the news tonight an elderly couple complaining that they only had drinking water. this is sad, but on the other hand, they said they refused to leave because of the storm. the lady replied that if she was going to lose her belongings, she wanted to be part of that excitement. excitement???? wow, takes all kinds

  2. terry1954 says:

    Reblogged this on terry1954 and commented:
    very important reminders

  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    We have a “grab and go” kit and a “shelter in” kit. It’s good to have cash in small denominations too because when the power’s out, the ATMs don’t work.

    • Yes, that is what we were taught, to have it in a back pack or something you can carry with you, though with change of clothing and everything on the list they gave us, it wouldn’t all fit in one backpack. As to the money, yes, keep some where you can access it. I did hit the ATM before the storm was expected though I don’t tend to keep that much around most of the time. For hurricanes, you get some warning, but some events like flash floods or earthquakes might not give any warning at all, so keep some cash — small bills and coins in the disaster kit.

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