Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Rita at The Woodlands: What I Have Learned

Mr. Dr. blew the yard off, cleaned the garage of canine excrement (ewwww!) and checked in with neighbors and friends while I wrestled the baby, marinated some meat and cleaned up inside. Our friends have gone to their home since they have A/C and electric now.

While puttering around I pondered what could have been done differently and better. While people belly-ache about FEMA and local governments, it is clear to me that each person must be responsible for themselves. There are simply too many people with dire needs. That is who the Government should help. I estimate the "dire needs number" at 2 percent of the population (think hospitals, elderly homes, orphans and widows). Probably 10 percent have intense needs (paycheck to paycheck, little famial support). And probably 10 percent more are just stupid (I'll be fine, denial of the possible disaster, no planning--not for lack of resources.) All told, probably 20% really need the emergency resources.

But the rest of the 80% needs to have their collective act together. It's called SELF-RELIANCE. It is AMERICAN. And it is ESSENTIAL in crisis. Here is what we thought of too late:
  1. We need a generator. With temps in the 100s it is unthinkable to be without A/C. Energy is too fickle with just regular old thunderstorms.
  2. We need at least one, maybe two chain saws. We are surrounded by beautiful trees. Their lovliness turns ominous with a tornado or hurricane coming. We might have enough gas, but if a tree falls and blocks us in, we're stuck anyway.
  3. You can't have too much duct tape.
  4. You can't have too much plastic sheeting.
  5. Everyone should own a gun. After Katrina, I posted that we were going to go gun hunting. And we did have the ball partially rolling, with friends giving helpful advice and checking prices on the internet and all. But we needed one yesterday, not some time in the future. Yes, a gun is needed for protection. But if push came to shove, a gun can kill a deer for meat. We have lots of them around here--fat ones too 'cuz they munch unmolested in our planned community.
  6. Buy more perishables than you think. I know this advice runs counter to Dr. Neil Frank's advice. He says its all lost in a big storm. But my recent experience says not really. With extra people in the house, we went through milk and eggs and bread and butter at an alarming rate. Our gas stove and grill would have worked. We could have cooked for a lot longer with the food we had. We had plenty of ice to last us probably five days. We were out of milk in one day. (We had evaporated and powdered milk, too, but had to dive into that faster than I would have liked.)
  7. Good food keeps morale up. Eat together. Prepare it together. Clean up together. Like the military, no one should eat alone.
  8. There is safety in numbers. We housed friends who live in a mobile home. They felt grateful to have a more solid roof, but the benefit ran both ways. More hands to take care of things. Children to play with each other. Adults to play with each other. We played cards and watched movies together. We laughed and talked and kept one another company. We cooked for each other. It was fun. It is MUCH BETTER than worrying alone.
  9. Be careful who you invite! Our friends are wonderful. We get along great in good times. A sourpuss, negative nay-bob or chronic depressive kill-joy will do more damage than 100 mile an hour winds. So will a lazy leech. Working together, staying task-oriented calms the jitters and keeps energy productive instead of destructive.
  10. Men are good. New York City can keep their metrosexuals. When times get tough you need a real man--two or three are even better. They lift heavy things. They nail things. They do dirty work. One thing I like about Texas is that there are plenty of real men. Now, it gets annoying, too. But when times get tough, the tough get going. A side effect of divorce and single-motherhood is that so many women are left with caring for children while also having to think about protecting children. The task is almost impossible alone.
  11. Keep lots of bleach around. It kills germs and viri and is multi-use.
  12. Keep childrens meds around. My teething kid went nuts and we had no way to help. He just suffered. Our nerves suffered as a result.
  13. We needed more light. Had the electricity gone out, we would have been in the dark to conserve light. That would have stunk. We need some camping lights and I'm going to get some this week.
  14. All families should have a notion of survival methods. No joke, I was harkening back to summer camp when we were all required to go on two and three day bivouacs where we boiled roots for drinks, used shovels to make latrines, etc. While not eager to employ said methods, I could if I had too.
That's it for right now. We did some things right. Unfortunately, we would have been caught underprepared had things gone wrong. As a single person with only myself as a responsibility that might be ok. With children, running out of food or supplies--I don't want to think about it.
More blogs about the woodlands rita.