This guest post is by Dawn and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
It all began on the evening of June 29, 2012. My husband Tony and I were at a local barbecue festival just a few blocks from our home when we heard someone say a storm was coming. We gathered up our belongings, bought barbecue dinners to take home and headed to the house. I was looking forward to a quick shower before enjoying my dinner in the comfort of my air-conditioned home. I had been out in the heat all afternoon.
Tony said he was going to walk down the alley to visit some friends for a few minutes. No sooner than I had gotten in the shower, the lights started to flicker and I hurried out. The lights continued to flicker for a couple of minutes and then they went out.
I didn’t panic because we keep emergency candles, lighters, and flashlights throughout the house. I lit a couple of candles and then kept an eye on what was happening outside, eventually opening a few windows to get some air flow through the house. The wind was fierce! I used my cell phone to call Tony. He and his friends were safely watching the storm as well. Once the winds stopped, he walked home and we went on to bed, thinking all would be well tomorrow.
Day two of this ordeal began to really test our preparedness. We have only being focusing on prepping since February. Tony and his son Kyle got out the generator and filled it with gas. They plugged in the refrigerator and deep freezer. I went back to the barbecue festival to help out.
The vendors had lost some of their merchandise and tents but the contestants wanted to continue with the competition. On the way there, I turned on the car radio but our local station was not on the air. It just so happened that our mayor was at the festival to help out as well. I was able to get some first hand information about what had happened. The storm had knocked out power to most of the areas around us for at least 100 miles.
It was expected that we would be without power for a week. Our city water supply could run on emergency power for three days and no stores or gas stations were open in our town. The neighboring town had some gas but the wait in line was around 2 hours. Although we had gas, Kyle took all of the empty gas cans we could find and went to fill them up. Telephone and cell phone service was scattered. Upon my return home that afternoon, I was able to share that information with my family and some friends.
Kyle and his girlfriend brought over their frozen and refrigerated foods and my inlaws brought their frozen foods to our house. We began to map out our plans. We had plenty of drinking water should the water supply end but I wanted more. I filled up containers totaling about 60 more gallons. We hooked up an old phone that we keep in our preps. Just a few weeks ago Tony suggested that I get rid of that phone but I convinced him otherwise since our usual phones all require electricity.
He was glad he had listened to me. Our phone service was fine as was our cell service. We sat up camp chairs under the only tree in our yard and filled a cooler with drinks. Later that evening our generator stopped running. Kyle was on generator duty and it had plenty of gas in it. After several minutes of trouble shooting, he finally listened to his girlfriend who kept saying it probably needed oil.
She was right and fortunately we had about half a quart of the appropriate oil. I layered several blankets over the freezer in the basement and that evening we unplugged the freezer and plugged up the window unit air conditioner in our bedroom. This was also when I thought about checking our sump hole for water. It was a good thing I did. It was almost full. I was able to plug up the pump and drain it. This would now become a part of my daily routine After a dinner of grilled chicken and corn on the cob we all settled down for the night.
Day three found us still with no power but the local grocery store was open with limited supplies. I went in at 8 am and bought some ice for the coolers and oil for the generator. I also used my debit card to get some cash back because most of the cash I had been gone between the barbecue festival and sending kyle for gas.
When I got home, I checked the everyday supplies and decided on a crockpot of spaghetti sauce for dinner. We were feeding 8 people and that seemed to be an easy thing to get together. The temperatures were still around 100 and grilling or using the camp stove was a hot job. The crockpot seemed like a good alternative and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Days four and five were pretty much the same as. We had settled in to our routine. I used my cell phone daily to check the Internet for any news of what was going on. Our radio station finally got a generator and was giving updates a couple of times a day. Power companies from all over the US were here working to restore power, and there were cooling centers, ice, and water available at various locations. The water system was going to continue to provide water for us.
We had a gas hot water heater so warm showers were available although cool ones were preferred. Power was starting to come back on in some locations but we were still without. July 4th, my dad invited us over to his house for a cookout. His power had come back on the day before. We enjoyed a nice evening there and upon returning home, found our electricity on. Although this experience had not been a great hardship for us, it was a relief to once again have our power!
We learned from this experience. We learned that we have plenty of food in our everyday pantry and freezer to feed 6-8 people for around 5 days. We did not have to open any of our prep foods during this time. We learned that a generator takes oil about as often as it takes gas and we will now keep extra oil along with the gas we already keep. We will continue to keep our vehicles at least half full of gas. We were so glad that we had begun that practice a couple of months ago.
We will keep more cash on hand. Although we did not need it this time, we need some type of water collection/filtration system. We also learned that our community was not prepared to communicate with the public about what was happening.
Although we had radios, we had no radio station that could give us any news or information. We were not aware that there were cooling stations, meals, and ice and water stations available until a couple of days in to things. We found that out during one of my daily cell phone internet checks. We did not need these things but there were people who did and did not know they were available. We also learned that if we each take on a role or two, our group will thrive.
Some of us cooked while others cleaned up or kept the generator going. Some kept security watch while others checked on elderly family and neighbors, giving them ice and/or food. We learned to listen to each other’s ideas and suggestions about how to do things.
Each person was responsible for something.Overall, we did really well during this situation. We feel comfortable with our overall progress and are thankful for the opportunity to test ourselves. We are now looking at how we would handle a similar situation during winter months. Prepping has become a way of life for us.
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.