Saturday, September 1, 2012

Flirting With Disaster

My husband Scott and I flew up to Ohio to visit our children and grandchildren right in time to experience a natural disaster: Deracho 2012. A Deracho is as deadly as a tornado, but the winds are straight-line, and not in rotation. Kind of like a wall of fury coming at you all at once, wiping out everthing with any ounce of weakness in it's path. 100 year old oak trees are plucked up out of the ground like spring carrots and deposited in the neighbors pool. Roofs ripped off and power lines snapped in the blink of an eye. Your world is mowed down by an invisible force that you can only see coming by radar.

Disaster is not something you plan on, or think will happen to you? Many Americans in 2012 think they are somewhat impervious to a true disaster, as if it's ridiculous to think that anything catastrophic could possibly happen? Or worse; that the government, The Red Cross, and other volunteer agencies will swoop in and take care of them? Right now as I write this, Hurricane Isaac has made headlines and families living as far as Arkansas are dealing with floodwaters and scrambling for cover, while trying to save pictures and a few keepsakes. Many leaving behind pets to fend for themselves. Don't think it can't happen to you. Fire, flood, drought, and wind can level a lifetime of accumulation. Which really makes me wonder why we all strive so hard to accumulate? But that's another post...
Well, I'm pleased to say that the community of Newark, Ohio really came together and worked through this ordeal. But I realized just how community oriented we all are in small snippets of daily life during the 10 days without electricity, and in the big-middle of the States most outrageous heat-wave in 50 years. It was hot, and it was humid. We took cold showers, and my very gracious family set up a camp stove outside, and had hot coffee waiting for us every morning. We pulled together with neighbors and family and had a good time doing so. But this taught me a lesson: Keep water and food on hand.  And yeah, I know this could easily lead into a rant about "prepping", but I'm not going there right now. Instead I want you to picture with me how delicate our system is, and you can imagine on your own how something like this can affect you where you are presently?
Day one: I decided to venture out into the streets about 2 hours after the storm to see if any businesses were open and were in the world was the fringe of this storms path? Who had electricity, if any? Were people hurt? Could I help in any way? I drove my car carefully around downed power lines, wove around pine trees and oaks in the middle of the street, up to the "main drag" where all the stores are. The first thing I noticed besides the abscence of electricity and all the visual devestation, was that none of the stop-lights were operating. Nothing tests a persons character more than the ability for personal gain, even in traffic. People were driving like idiots, and horns were blasting, and middle fingers flying with wild abandon. It was like a trip to New York City, minus the great ethnic food and Broadway plays. I managed my way to the local store, and was stunned to see people coming and going It appears they had some emergency back up system, so I went in, grabbed lots of bottled, water, canned beans, fruit, bread, peanut butter, and snacks, because I felt deep down in my gut, that none of this would be available in a few days?
Day two: Need ice, and our telephones are not working! No gas is available, because the pumps operate on electricity. Plan: Drive out of town until we get a phone signal. Call everyone in Texas to let them know we are okay. Find gas, ice, and more food. We had a house full of family, and a diabetic Granddaughter. Make sure she has the right foods and plenty of insulin. Check.
Day three: Need more ice. Went by the grocery store again. They were out of ice, out of ANY fresh meat or cheese, and fruits and vegetables had been picked over. All that was left was cabbage, onions, radishes, and about 6 bags of potatoes. I grabbed a bag of potatoes, and went to the canned meat isle. Picked over, but I grabbed some spam, and a couple cans of soup.
Question: Why aren't they shipping more food in?
Answer: Because they have no means to store it.
This is scary. Kroger looks apocolyptic and it's 88 degrees inside, and it's starting to smell. No food coming in, and what's there is starting to get ripe.
Are you getting the picture? This went on for 10 days. Everyday I drove into town and scouted for ice, gas, and a phone signal. The elderly and infirmed where being sent to Red Cross stations across town because they couldn't take the heat. I thanked God every single day that we were able to swim in my brothers pool, and sleep in my sisters cool basement. We really made an adventure out of it for the grandkids.  We played board games, sang songs and just told stories. But in the back of my mind I couldn't help but wonder if there was more I could do to be better prepared going forward? 


One of the most amazing things I witnessed during this power outage was the fresh faces of teenagers, as they figured out how to spend their time without their cell phones? Seeing groups of teens walk the streets, sit outside in groups, and play board games gave me a lot of hope for the next generation, and I'll bet they'll have a story to tell when they are adults? I'll bet there was more than one teen happy that their parents had those board games, or a stack of cards in the drawer? 

What do you do to prepare yourself? Do you have any kind of emergency plan? Do you know how to make do, or do without? How do you store important documents? Do you keep emergency medicine on-hand? Is there emergency rations of food in your pantry? Do you have a plan?
Giving "food for thought" is like planting a harvest for tomorrow.
In Christ,