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This write up will most likely appeal to readers who live along the east and southern coasts of the United States or somewhere just inside of it. For those of you who are lucky enough to live in an area not prone to hurricanes please feel free to move on.

With Hurricane Sandy about to make landfall on the Eastern seaboard of the United States I thought it might be interesting to take a glimpse on how to survive one of those monsters should it come bearing down on your neck of the woods or knocking on your front door.

First, depending on your point of view a hurricane is either one of those so-called acts of God that the almighty has unleashed in order to show his wrath at the alleged sinners amongst us or just natures way off letting off a little steam.

Either way, it’s a pretty significant reminder to us humans about just how insignificant we really are.

Pop Quiz

You’ve received notice that a large hurricane is bearing down on you, what should you do?

A) Board up the windows and doors and stick it out
B) Stock up on supplies such as gasoline and food stuffs and stick it out
C) Both A and B
D) Get the hell out of Dodge

The correct answer is D, “Get the hell out of Dodge.” I don’t care how brave or crazy you think you are, hurricanes are not to be trifled with. By staying in its path you are either mocking whatever God you pray to or trying to defy the laws of nature. This is especially true if you own some nice coastal property with a gorgeous beach house. Depending on its location or proximity to the shoreline your vacation home has a high degree of probability that it will be washed out to sea with your sorry ass in it. So pack up your most cherished belongings, grab your spouse and kids, put Fido or Snowball in a cage and jump in your car and get the hell out of town.

If you answered "D", good for you. The rest of this write up is unnecessary.

For those of you who answered A, B or C, please read on.

For those of you who answered A only please heed the following advice. Glass is pretty safe when it’s sitting there minding its own business and being its usual stationary self. However, when trees and other forms of debris are whipping through the air it becomes something else entirely. By needlessly putting yourself in the path of the hurricane and hence the glass you are assuming an inordinate amount of risk of being torn to shreds by thousand of shards of glass. In order to avoid this unpleasantness you should board up any windows or doors with plywood. It’s also not a bad idea to do this even if you plan on evacuating the premises anyway. This will help to minimize the damage that might occur anyway even though your sorry ass has left. Of course, all of this is moot if the ocean decides to take matters into its own hand and the house is swept out to sea.

For those of you who answered B please bear in mind that hurricanes also tend towards power outages. For some strange reason sustained winds in excess of 100 miles per hour have been known to wreak havoc on the power lines that we have come to rely on as a normal part of our lives. Be prepared to spend long nights shivering in the nooks and crannies of your homes without any lights or electricity unless of course you have flashlights and an endless supply of batteries. Unless you have your own personal generator that means no television or any other creature comforts you’ve grown accustomed to. The roads that lead to your paradise will most likely be flooded so forget jumping into your car and heading off to the local Motel 6. You’ve made your bed, now you must lie in it.

The following assumes that you are not one of so-called survivalists and already have a bunch of these items in your own private stash.

Since you’re stuck there with no power you’ll need to make the best of it. This usually entails a trip to the local grocery store a couple of days beforehand. Stock up on any canned goods (don’t forget a manual can opener!) such as tuna fish, or beans and weenies. In a perfect world, you should get your hands on anything that doesn’t need to be cooked or heated up. It’s pretty hard to hold a backyard barbecue when rain is lashing sideways and the ocean is coming in through your front door. I’d recommend you stock up on ice and plenty of it. Depending on circumstances help might not be on the way for up to a week or so and since the air conditioning no longer works it’d be a good idea to try and keep cool. Many hurricanes will also play games with your water supply so forget about taking showers, flushing the toilet or bathing for the foreseeable future. Load up on as much bottled water as you can.

Note: Many proprietors of local businesses have been known to jack up prices on these basic human necessities so the earlier you get to the store the better.

If you answered any combination of A, B and C all I can say is good luck to you.

There’s probably a shit ton of other things that you should do in order to safely survive a hurricane. The goal of this write up wasn’t intended to list them all rather than just a few of the basics that you’ll need to survive.

Of course, the easiest way to survive a hurricane is to live somewhere where they don’t make landfall but sometimes that just might not be practical.

One final thought, to any of our readers or contributors who are in Hurricane Sandy’s path, all I can say is Godspeed to you and yours.

1. Be thankful for what you have. Whether it's family or a house or your health.

2. Now is not the time to be fussy about food or your figure. If you lose power, eat perishables first.

3. If anyone offers you a cup of coffee or a homemade cake, be gracious and just say yes.

4. Try not to complain about small things.

5. Keep your sense of humor. Keep your sense of humor.

6. When possible, reach out to neighbors or family members, even those who are estranged, especially those who are estranged.

7. Follow the directions of your local police or Office of Emergency Management regarding evacuation or staying off the roads.

8. Be grateful to volunteers, out-of-town work crews, firefighters and first responders. If nothing else, wave a happy hello or give them a silent thumbs up or silent applause.

9. Be aware that even on a sunny-blue-sky-day, everyone has some burden they carry. During a storm, these get magnified. Offer a kind word or deed.

10. If you need help, ask for it.

11. Read a book or listen to new music.

12. Play a card game or Scrabble or tell stories.

13. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.


I wish I could say I did all this and more but I didn't. This is a list written in hindsight. With incredible generosity from my daughter and her husband, we had food, fellowship and the delightful company of children and teenagers. While surveying the damage of approximately thirty large trees and several collapsed structures, an old gazebo and a new day camp song shed, I renewed a friendship with a woman who I worked with in the kitchen. We had not seen each other in three or four years, but it was as if no time had passed. It was uplifting for us both, and the best hug I've had in some time.

I did reach out to estranged family members. And although Halloween was officially canceled in my town, I graciously accepted large bars of organic dark chocolate, peppermint patties, and candy corn...

My mother stayed with us. She continues to surprise me with a random memory or her gift for seeing the good in the darkest moments. She was adamant about getting to vote, so despite an unexpected visit to the doctor for an infection in her leg, despite both her voting place and ours being changed to different locations due to Hurricane Sandy clean-up, all four of us voted.

And today, as the snow started falling, she wandered from room to room in my house, saying how beautiful it looked out of every window, a different story unfolding, within each frame.

Since the majority of my family lives in Wisconsin, hurricane weather is something we've never experienced, however, as my daughter pointed out, there are other weather related disasters that our family of four may encounter. At school, she learned about the importance of being prepared for an emergency, and since she has a tendency to come home, hang up her backpack, and leave it unattended for lengthy periods of time, I was gratified when she asked me if I would help her with a project.

My oldest daughter is in the sixth grade this year. Although she's been a nature lover for as long as I've known her, and interested in meteorology from a young age, lately she's shown a greater interest in things like hunting, and archery. When we went shopping for winter boots, she found a pair of green camouflaged Carhartt pants, and decided that a pink camo John Deere shirt would be the perfect tee to pair it with. Since that purchase, the shirt rarely, if ever leaves her. She sleeps with a hat on, and wears either her red school hat, or the pink double layered Columbia one we bought at a sporting goods store.

For the most part, I view my daughter as a fairly average eleven and a half year old. She's popular at school despite neglecting to thoroughly, or regularly comb and brush her mop of wilderness hair. She's very petite, she plays soccer, and others have defined her behavior as aggressive, and spunky. I think there were eight questions on the list she asked me to review with her. This well intentioned list described the minimum of emergency supplies that a household ought to have on hand, just in case disaster strikes.

While my youngest daughter's handwriting is almost alarmingly neat, we sometimes struggle to read things that my oldest has scrawled. I was rather touched when she asked if I would help her write a list of things that we needed for her assignment, she thought my handwriting was neater than hers, but I also reminded her that this was her homework. She nodded, shook her tangled Grizzly Adams curls, and said that we needed to implement our emergency plan, so the list was actually for my benefit, not hers.

Passion is hard to resist in adorable youngsters that you have had tentative relationships with in the past. It is also a good idea to have a plan, just in case something would happen. My aunt and uncle in New Jersey were affected by the hurricane. The last time I talked to them they had been without power for almost a week, and we do live in tornado alley, not to mention that I can remember being snowed in several times, once as recently as two years ago. So while my daughter drew a map of our home to determine escape routes for our one story ranch home, I found myself writing out a list of things we had, and another of items to procure.

I thought I was doing an exceptional job putting down items such as flashlights with extra batteries, toiletries, and a first aid kit when my daughter, who was standing next to me announced that what our family really needed was a bomb shelter. She wasn't kidding either. That announcement, and I give myself credit for not laughing at her, led to an involved detour where Google showed us many types of bomb shelters that were out there. This led to a discussion of how likely a bomb raid was, and how terrible war can be for soldier, and civilian alike, but eventually we were able to return to our preparedness list.

Whenever a new L.L. Bean catalog arrives, my oldest daughter pores over it. Much time, and considerable thought is given to each item, and questions such as whether the royal blue or Hawaiian ice duffle would be better are contemplated at length with the inevitable consultation of her parents. This year she found an emergency radio that had two power sources, although she wasn't sure whether the red one would really be better than the gray. She told me that we really needed several LED flashlights, and mentioned excitedly that they float so we would be able to retrieve them in our inflatable raft. She added that to my list since it was an item I had overlooked.

When I was in grade school, the town my grandparents lived in was flooded. There are pictures of my dad paddling a canoe through the streets of town. There were eleven feet of water in some areas, and the damage suffered by some was significant. By this time, my daughter's school book has been cast aside, my list now covers both sides of the sheet I had been writing on, and we had returned to Google in search of a greater depth of understanding as to what exactly we would need in the event of severely inclement weather.

I found a site that suggested a compass, my daughter practically yelled at me for not having this critical item on my list. I had also forgotten guns, ammunition, 250 feet of rope, back packs, sunscreen, dental floss, boric acid, money, and maps of our area that illustrated where spring water could be obtained. We divided food into canned goods, and dry goods. As I wrote I started to wonder, how long would three hundred pounds of rice last? Years ago I had belonged to a food coop, so I had seen fifty pound bags of rice, popcorn, and wheat. I added popcorn to the list, scratched the wheat since no one in my family can eat it anyways, but added it back after reading that our chickens could be fed sprouted wheat, ignoring the fact that my family does not currently raise poultry.

Chicken raised on wheat will grow to eight or nine pounds according to a source I read. They are a source of protein, and we could use the feathers for making our own pillows if it came to that. That started a new chain of thought, maybe ducks would be better than chickens since they could swim. The chicken versus duck debate became heated, but I insisted that ducks were the better option. We have four sleeping bags, although the girls have thin child sized versions. Fortunately for us, LL Bean has an enticing array of flannel lined bags, although I made a note to check out our local Army surplus store.

Sardines are a cheap protein source. My daughter normally doesn't care for them, but nodded gravely when I put them on my list of canned goods. We would need lighters, she mentioned that we could get some from my mom who smokes. I said nothing, but added them to my growing list. I put down things like tea, honey, and realized that no one in my family has any real botanical knowledge about the herbs that can be used to treat certain ailments. My daughter made a face when I put down brandy, but I explained that it could be used to disinfect minor wounds in the absence of professional medical care.

Rat traps were an inexplicable suggestion until I read that they could be used to capture small mammals such as squirrels. When my oldest daughter was a toddler, my husband lost his job. Being reduced to a very meager income suddenly meant that I had to resort to things such as reconstituted dried milk. She thought that powdered milk was an astonishing invention, and when you don't have any other options, you quickly become thankful for the things you do have. We added games, and playing cards to our list. A copy of the Bible was another entry, and I'm ashamed I didn't think of it earlier.

I knew things had gone way past where they should have when we simultaneously read 'musical instruments', and my daughter eagerly exclaimed that she could play her hated clarinet for us while we were without power, heat, or running water. I'm not going to reveal what time my daughter went to bed that night. It was much later than normal, and we still had much work to do according to her. An interesting thing I observed, after she took over my list, the items she added had been neatly printed in a way that made me proud.

Probably the best thing that has come out of me and my husband taking a parenting class has been the advice to really heap praise on children in areas where they excel. My daugther and I probably went a bit overboard composing our list, however it highlighted the sobering thought that my family could be much better prepared for the possibility of a time where we may not have many items we daily take for granted. We're going to start small, but after listening to my daughter beg for inexpensive canned and dried goods that she wouldn't eat normally at the store yesterday, I drove home thinking that surviving a hurricane might be just as adventure filled as parenting a tempestuous, strong willed, life loving junior Doomsday Prepper.

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