10 February 2010

Riding the Storm Out

We were hit with a bad snowstorm over the weekend that dumped about 23 inches of snow in the Pittsburgh area. That was followed up by another 8 inches last night and more on the way today. Living in Pittsburgh, we are used to a couple of good storms per year and both the population and snow removal crews are generally well equipped to deal with the consequences.

Unfortunately, when it snows as hard as it did during the past storm nobody can keep up with the accumulation and follow-on problems such as accidents, power outages and the general inability to get around. In Pittsburgh, we were also witness to the usual pre-storm hysteria that floods the supermarkets with shoppers looking for milk, eggs and toilet paper.

The local paper quotes Dr. P.V. Nickell, local psychiatrist, who attempted to explain the phenomenon as our "primal fears" which are heightened by media coverage. In one of the more ironic statements I've read in awhile, the paper notes that the good doctor was safe and warm in Tampa and must have done a phone interview while essentially calling his fellow Pittsburghers a bunch of pussies.

We lost power on Friday night and did not regain it until late Saturday night. We were grateful it came back on at all since tens of thousands were still without power as of yesterday. Fortunately, we were prepared in advance for the storm and rode it out in relative comfort. Despite the fact that I like to goof on 2012 conspiracies and Armageddon nuts, I do firmly believe in prudent survival planning for anyone living in this country. As the Katrina tragedy showed, waiting for the government to save your butt is akin to having an insurance policy with a bankrupt insurer. While I highly doubt that Planet X, or Nibiru, or whatever the hell they are calling it these days is going to ram into planet Earth, I am pretty confident that we will be impacted by the more mundane, but far more dangerous occurrences such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and blizzards.

Disaster planning is actually pretty simple if you start early enough. The worst time to try to figure out how to survive is when you are smack in the middle of the disaster- sort of like trying to study for a college final 20 minutes before the test. When downed trees, power outages and water advisories hit us over the weekend, we were fully prepared to ride the storm out for up to 14 days if necessary which we knew would be far more than we needed. We were also able to sit out the last minute rush to the stores when the full display of the frightened human animal is shown at its absolute worst- hoarding supplies without concern for others, fighting over scarce resources and being just plain rude. So, I'm going to share some ideas that have worked for me in my own planning and hope to hear some suggestions from others on how they are prepared to care for their families, and others, in a crisis.

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