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Dog Eat Dog

I have been mulling this whole Hurricane Sandy thing over in my mind for the past month.  I posted about it on the blog and the post was one of the lower rated ones I have written.  It elicited many reader comments to the fact that those big city folks were doing everything they could do given their situation.

As Miss Kathy and I watched Sandy swirling up the Eastern Seaboard headed directly for a densely populated metro area, we both agreed this was going to be an unequaled opportunity to observe a disaster of major proportions.  We were interested in how the population was going to cope with  a severe disruption in their daily lives, how the authorities were going to provide emergency relief and restore and maintain order  and how the bad boys were going to take advantage of the situation.

3 days into the aftermath was when things went bad.  3 days.   People were out of food, fuel and water.  Now, granted, living in an honest to God BIG CITY is way different from living out in the small town Middle like many of us.  Many of those folks don’t own cars so they just can’t bug out to Uncle Joe’s upstate.  Alot of those folks knew there was some bad juju headed down the pike straight at them but they just did not grasp the reality of the bad situation.  Some of those folks couldn’t have done anything more to prepare if you had given them a month’s warning.  They just did not have the skills or resources or knowledge to handle it.

But what of it?  You play the cards you are dealt and get on with life.  Way back in 1993, we had the Easter Blizzard right outside Chattanooga, TN.  In an area that has less than 6″ of snow a year on average, we had snow above the doorknobs in 12 hours and we were stranded out in the country like everyone else.  A wife, 2 kids and a dog and we had done absolutely nothing to prepare for a disaster of that nature. I did not see a single vehicle move on the highway that ran past our house for 6 days.  The first vehicle we did see was a National Guard deuce and a half plowing through the waist deep snow.  We had no electricity for 14 days.   People died.  People were hungry.  We got by.   I made a vow at that point that I would never be caught in such a helpless state ever again.

Near Cotulla, TX — 9/2012

There was more than one comment made on the other post about how our current situation is radically different from somebody living on Staten Island or the Jersey Shore that got their house blown away.   I’ll go along with that.  When you are gate guarding as a job, one day there is a bare patch of caliche gravel and the next day there is a recreational vehicle setting there doing business.  We are not connected to the power grid or city water or sewage.  We are just there doing our gate guarding thing.  That in itself forces you to pay attention to details that would never cross the mind of a New Yorker.  When it is a 100 mile roundtrip to the closest grocery store, you plan your trips in advance and make sure there is extra food squirreled away.  You make sure your vehicle stays topped up with fuel and you have extra fuel available.   I even keep a Go Bag in the Suburban which is a backpack with enough ‘stuff’ in there to keep me going for several days–even if I have to abandon it and walk.  With a nod over toward Miss Kathy, we also keep plenty of extra water available in every vehicle.  That goes back to her being raised up out in the Desert.  There is at least 2.5 gallons of potable water in the Suburban right now and it stays in there.

Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

Back in 2008 when I got all tangled up with Hurricane Ike in Houston I found myself running out to find food for my Mom at the very last minute which was a very uncool situation to be in.  She was staying with my Dad at the hospital where he had undergone hip replacement surgery just two days prior.  The hospital staff told my Mom they had food to feed him but they could not guarantee adequate food for family.  Call it adaptive learning or a sign of the times but my reaction to the same scenario in 2012 would be much different.   Faced with the same problem, I would simply go out to the Suburban and go through my goods that I always have on hand.  In short order, I would be back in the room with my Dad and Mom with freeze dried food, maybe some MREs, water (they turned OFF the water fountains in the hospital and gave bottled water to the patients only) a flashlight and an emergency radio.

It is just a plain fact that whether you live in the Big City or in an RV in South Texas, you need to look after yourself to some degree. Yep, the way it stands now, the government will be along with relief aid in some form or fashion eventually.  They did better during Hurricane Sandy than Hurricane Katrina for sure.  Eventually, the power lines get fixed and things reach some semblance of order.  I am sure there are a bunch of folks up East that will react differently next time around.

I had intended to include some information about one of our new sponsors Nitro-Pak.com which is where I have been getting the Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food.  Their story is  interesting and I have been thrilled with their products and service.  I just enjoy doing good business with good people.  We will save that for another day.

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5 comments to Dog Eat Dog

  • Joel

    My folks retired to upstate NY 20 years ago. They have a diesel generator and at least a weeks worth of food in the basement. They live in a rural area, so they could use the back yard as a restroom if need be. Not the same as living in an RV in the desert, but reasonably buffered against severe weather.

    But as I pointed out before, it is just risible to believe that each resident in a 40 story apt building could have their own diesel generator and a week of fuel, a week’s worth of food, their own port-a-potty and 40 gallon potable water supply. It’s just silly. Yes, there is a role for government in a crisis, and when we talk about supporting each other, government is one way we do that.

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  • Ken

    Andy, once again you have pointed out the risks of depending on “The Government” to supply all our needs/wants/desires/or thinking for us. As you pointed out, the NE knew for a week or more something bad was coming. As I remember, the local gov’ts were telling people to prepare. Sadly, a lot of them rushed out to get beer and pretzels and said I am ready now. I will bet very few filled the tub with water, got in bottles of water, got canned foods that can be eaten without heat or preparation.
    Exactly what happened in New Orleans has yet to be completely told. Nagin (mayor of NO) and landrieu (gov of LA) made no requests for help until the overtopping of the levees had the town flooded for 2 days. Everybody complained that Bush had failed them, but local governments MUST request assistance and declare an emergency before FEMA can move a wheel. Transportation was available to leave NO, evidenced by all the cars flooded in the 9th ward.
    I heard a local preacher say, “don’t tell me you had no way to leave. If you can steal a car, you can darn sure steal a schoolbus”. The ERP published by NO (Emergency Response Plan) said schoolbusses were to be used to evacuate low lying areas. I know this because I assisted one of the Technical Writers in some of information in the ERP. (he used to work for me and called asking for what else he should include) All that to say that Nagin never once initiated use of the ERP or declared an emergency until FEMA came in and told him he must declare. Mary Landrieu was screaming for government help, until she was told you must request emergency aid from the Feds. That event took place 3 days after the levees overtopped and then broke. All the news media was hot to trot to blame Bush and FEMA, never once pointing out the local gov’t failed to do it’s job.
    As you point out, we must accept some of the responsibility for our own wellbeing.
    Repairing elect service, gas service and water is the responsibility of local gov’t, but dealing with those things not being provided is OUR responsibility.

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    • Andrew

      Ken and Joel,

      I certainly would not wish this disaster on anybody — and I understand 40 story apartment building present special problems. The deal is the Gov is supposed to be there to help — but the question is when? With the responsibilities for me and mine, I want to make sure I have stop gap measures that insure the well being of the folks that look to me for their safety and survival. I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That is MY mindset. YMMV.

      I will never forget Hurricane Ike. It made landfall late on a Friday and howled through the night. The Hospital my Dad was in had locked down until Monday. Absolutely no egress or ingress for 72 hrs and that was mandated AFTER they did a detailed study of Katrina. There was no use me staying in Houston in a hotel with no electricity or water so I headed north on I45 Saturday mid day.

      I did not see an electric light or sign on for the first 100 miles. What I did see was semi flatbeds headed south one after another with the BIG V8 Cat generators strapped down on the deck. This was not for FEMA. I imagine they were going to the local CAT house in Houston for sale or rental or maybe some of the municipalities or large companies down there. They had obviously been pre-staged just outside of the hurricane danger area.

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  • TexasCruiser

    Thank you for the link Andy. We have purchased from another company and had never heard of Nitro-Pak. I like the look of their site.

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    • Andrew

      Good people and there is more to come on that subject. Stay tuned!

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