Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Disaster Preparedness Class Q & A ... part 1

This is the first installment of the questions you asked regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and the disaster preparedness classes I taught.  I’ve broken them down into categories and combined questions when they were asked more than once.

Water …

 I'm curious did you have enough water? Did you only have what is recommended, if so, was that enough?

We barely had enough water and yes, we had more than the daily recommendation.  The daily recommendation is 1 -2 gallons per person per day … in my opinion, that is not enough to cover cooking, cleaning, flushing and washing up.

Did you ration the water you had such as most for drinking and cooking, etc?  Did you have an alternate source for water for washing bodies/dishes?  

Yes, we rationed our water and kept water suitable for drinking and cooking separate from water used for flushing, cleaning and washing up.  Our washing up water for our bodies and dishes came from the water we had stored in soda bottles, milk jugs, etc. We also caught water in 5 gallon buckets from the rain that helped with flushing.

Let me say here that we had a generator and when we ran it our well pump worked which meant we had running water in the house.  However, we had to ration our gas for the generator as we didn’t know when we would be able to get more and we were sharing what we had with an elderly couple in our community who had been out of town and had not been able to prepare.

How long before municipal sewer systems are up and running (and what to expect / how long before it occurs) if you start using water and flushing, if it's NOT up to 100%?

This was different all over our area depending on where you were and the amount of damage you received.   In towns, it was longer than out in the country due to the flooding affecting the water treatment stations.  Not being on a municipal sewer system, this was not an issue for us.  We have our own sewer system.

How long before municipal water is potable?

Again, not being on a municipal water system, we did not have to deal with this.  We have our own well.  This would depend on how much flooding there was and the damage done.

How much water to have on hand per person, for each day without power?

In my opinion, being really conservative in usage … 3 gallons/person/day.  My goal is 5 gallons/person/day, 3 of which would be potable.

Here's a post I did  on water that talks about being prepared in this area.

Food …

What foods did you eat? Did you have to get really creative with cooking, did you open your home canned goods or how did you genetically go about preparing a meal?

The first day after the disaster we ate what was in the refrigerator.  After that we started eating from the freezer.  We made sure to run the generator 3 – 4 hours each day to keep the food in the freezer frozen.  We ate things that could be cooked on our grill since we couldn’t run our electric cook stove on the generator.

What foods/recipes that you thought would work, didn't?   

We just ate what we had that could be cooked on our grill or heated up on our grill.

What would you have had more of in your pantry? Less of?

I can’t think of anything, keeping a well-stocked pantry pretty much assured us of having something we could cook and eat at all meals including snack type foods.

What meal(s) did you plan to prepare and did that work out okay considering meal ingredients and method of preparing (for instance, did you boil rice on a grill, etc.) Or had you planned on making a certain meal and then realize that oops, you couldn't cook an item a certain way and the whole idea fell apart? You probably didn't make elaborate meals, but what simple meals worked for you? Did you use canned meat or go without?

Like I said earlier, we ate what we had.  We didn’t do any menu planning beyond what to fix for the next meal.  Everything was just so ‘up in the air’ and we never knew what each morning or evening for that matter was going to bring.  For breakfast most mornings, until the power came back on, we cooked bacon or sausage in a skillet on the grill and cooked fresh eggs from our chickens.  I believe I did have some home-made granola one morning too.  We had to cook just what we would eat at every meal and take things out of the freezer in time for them to thaw and cook for the next meal.  For lunch we would open up a jar of something home-canned, heat and eat it.  Dinner was some kind of meat from the freezer.  Our vegetables either came from the freezer or were home-canned.  All of our meals were cooked on our grill until the power came back on.

Here's a post I did on ways to cook when there is not power.

Mentally Coping …

How has the disaster affected you mentally and emotionally? Did it change how you think about human nature?

As for how the disaster affected me mentally and emotionally, it has definitely left a few scars.  I saw things and experienced things that were hard to wrap my mind around.  It took a while for me to process it all, sometimes I was sad, sometimes I cried, sometimes I needed to talk about it, sometimes I didn’t want to talk about it at all and sometimes I just needed to escape into a good book for a while. 

One of my most heartfelt emotional moments was when I saw power truck … after power truck … after power truck … after power truck roll into our area.  Help had finally arrived!  I cried and so did everyone else who witnessed their arrival.

Did it change how I feel about human nature … it made me more aware.  We saw the best in people and the worst in people.  We saw it all … incredibly spoiled, greedy and selfish people, people who were beyond generous and people who were so thankful for the help they were given.  It reminded me that how we react is our choice.  We can’t always control the situation but we can control how we react to it. We can choose to be greedy and selfish or we can join hands with others helping where and when we can with thankful hearts.

How did you cope with the disaster?

During the immediate aftermath … the first week … I just kept putting one foot in front of the other doing the next thing.  There was no time to think, the needs were too urgent.  Yes, I was exhausted, but so was everyone else.  After the first week, the pace slowed a little but there were still so many needs that we just continued doing the next thing.  When we had done all we could do for others and it was time for us to focus on us, I crashed.  I had nothing left to give; I needed to rest and did for about a week.

We had only minor damage at our house and we were so thankful, many, many, many others were not so fortunate.

That’s all for this installment, I’ll answer the rest of your questions on Thursday.

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  1. It sounds like you were truly, truly prepared. The Lord blessed you in that you had enough water to make it through even though barely. You were able to be a blessing to others as well. Thank you for the very informative post. ...Vicky in Ky

    1. Yes, the Lord did bless us abundantly, Vicky.

  2. So scary, but you were prepared and you also have faith which is most of the battle. I am so happy you fared so well. Bless you.

  3. Patsy,
    The at least a gallon per person per day pertains only to drinking and cooking. We are supposed to plan for extra for cleaning and flushing and also pets.

  4. Thank you SO MUCH for answering questions. I relayed your comments to my husband I think now he finally 'gets it'. I have been the one who has done most of the preparing, and I have suggested to him the need for more options for water storage. He said he has a source for two free 55 gallon barrels for water storage and we will keep them in our basement. That will be in addition to our cases of bottled water for drinking, an outdoor 265 gallon rain water containment, and water in various other containers. (I have the supplies to make the water drinkable.) He also agreed to the need for keeping two filled propane bottles ready for our grill, and he is thinking about a small generator. All of your answers I used to convince him that disasters DO happen and HAVE happened. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

    1. You are quite welcome Joy. Part 2 of the questions will be posted tomorrow.

  5. Thank you so much Patsy! Your information is so valuable. I loved your simple answer to your cooking. It's always seemed so complex to me to figure out what convenience foods to store since I only cook from scratch. Barbecue the meat from my freezer... Duh! We filled up our 2nd propane tank and feel a little more prepared. The people coming for the solar eclipse in our area is suppose to put a real strain of all our resources. Our population is going to triple. We've been warned to have full tanks of gas, all groceries bought, etc. For a week ahead of time and after. We are expecting black outs, shortages of food and gas and extremely long commute times. We aren't suppose to water for a week. My husband's travel time to work is a half hour but they are predicting a 4 hr commute. We live in a rural area. We're not sure how this is all going to pan out but for sure we will be prepared as much as we possibly can. The pantry and freezer are full. We have water but will add more before. We plan on staying put except for working out the work commute. Some people will be camping at their work places. We will also have full gas tanks and extra stored. I may not comment much on your posts, but I do read everyone of them and the comments. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
    Melody in OR


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