The storm has come and gone. Your expe­ri­ences all depends on where you were at the time. Some places by me got hit hard (and are still with­out pow­er as I write this). Oth­ers like my imme­di­ate area got away pret­ty clean­ly (unless you were right on a canal). Even house by house was dif­fer­ent. My only dam­age was a sec­tion of my back fence that isn’t too sta­ble any­way. I can repair it myself.

But one good thing this storm did pro­vide was a test of my prepa­ra­tions. I think I did very well all things con­sid­ered. Nev­er­the­less, there were lessons learned.

After any inci­dent it’s always a good idea to do a post­mortem “Lessons Learned” review. Noth­ing ever goes 100% accord­ing to plan but such a review can help with iden­ti­fy­ing at least glar­ing mis­takes and fail­ures.

The fol­low­ing is a brief overview of what did work and what didn’t for me before, dur­ing, and after Hur­ri­cane Irene:

What Worked

Food & Water – I was well stocked with bot­tled and long term stor­age water as well as water purifi­ca­tion tablets if need­ed. I also had a good assort­ment of canned food on hand as well as frozen and fresh, freeze dried long term stor­age and some MRE’s.

Lights & Bat­ter­ies – I’ve been col­lect­ing flash­lights of all kinds for months as well as Cole­man LED and FL lanterns and accu­mu­lat­ing the bat­ter­ies.

Cook­ing – I had just picked up an extra propane tank for my gas grill in addi­tion to the one there that’s at least half full. At a min­i­mum I could boil water.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions – I was able to get a bat­tery radio from the local Radio Shack. And my marine radio has the NOAA chan­nel so I was cov­ered for that. I have a set of Motoro­la walkies if need­ed and kept the cell phones charged through­out it all.

Secu­ri­ty – Not real­ly an issue for some­thing like this, at least ini­tial­ly. My house loca­tion is off the beat­en path a bit so I wouldn’t be the first loot­ers come look­ing for. But if so I do have defen­sive capa­bil­i­ties.


What Did NOT Work

Fuel – Peo­ple start­ed lin­ing up for gaso­line around noon on Fri­day. Many sta­tions sold out by the after­noon. For­tu­nate­ly I had filled my car that morn­ing. But when I took my wife’s car that after­noon (I always tell her not to let it fall below half but she still often runs it to E any­way!) the lines at sta­tions were around the block. The lines moved quick­ly at the big­ger sta­tions but it was a tense sce­nario. Lots of peo­ple fill­ing many cans too.

I have cans and sta­bi­liz­er but my wife is opposed to stor­ing gas for the safe­ty issue. I can’t blame her. We don’t real­ly have a good place to keep it. Can’t keep it in the garage and back­yards on Long Island for the most part aren’t so big as to have an iso­late area to keep gas cans. There is a spot in my yard I could put some out of view and some­what shel­tered. But she’s right that an errant fire crack­er or cig­a­rette butt could land there and if there a fumes…try explain­ing that to the insur­ance com­pa­ny!

Nev­er­the­less, while I didn’t fill the cans this time I told her next time I will. She wasn’t hap­py with that. I’m sure we’ll revis­it that issue again.

Elec­tric­i­tyGen­er­a­tors went fast! Going to be hard to get one even now for some time. A whole house gen­er­a­tor isn’t prac­ti­cal for where I live. No place real­ly to mount it with any rea­son­able sense of secu­ri­ty. The only spot I could think of is at the far end of the house away from the main pan­el so it would cost a for­tune to run a wire con­duit to the pan­el. And there’s the issue of fuel­ing it (see above). Propane might work but can’t have those giant tanks either. Nat­ur­al gas isn’t avail­able on my block and any­way could be inter­rupt­ed if the pumps for that go out or there’s a break in the line.

I was look­ing at a duel fuel gen­er­a­tor (gaso­line or propane) to run the refrig­er­a­tor, freez­er, a good elec­tric cook­ing plate, maybe a lamp or two. If I can hook it into my fur­nace motor too for the win­ter that would be excel­lent. I know I couldn’t run it con­stant­ly but for a cou­ple of hours at a time would be help­ful. Some­thing to look into.

Sim­i­lar­ly, some kind of basic solar sys­tem for charg­ing at least flash­light and radio bat­ter­ies. I recent­ly saw a dia­gram uti­liz­ing a deep cycle bat­tery, a solar charg­er and an invert­er. Sounds like a win­ter project. And I could use some recharge­able flash­light bat­ter­ies too.

Cook­ing – My gas grill would serve as a cook­ing plat­form but a more stove-like appli­ance would be bet­ter. Cabela’s (and I’m sure oth­ers) sell propane fueled stoves but they aren’t cheap. I’ve used Cole­man camp­ing stoves and they work well. Going to be hard to get one around here (and the fuel) for some time though. I’ve also been told there is an adap­tor to fuel a Cole­man stove off a grills’ propane tank. Need to look into that too. Don’t need any­thing fan­cy. Just being able to heat a can of soup or boil water is good enough (if things are real­ly so bad for a long peri­od of time I’ll have even more to con­tend with).

San­i­ta­tion – I filled our bath­tubs as com­mon but that wouldn’t last in a pro­longed dis­as­ter. Dig­ging a latrine isn’t an option. I need to look into a por­ta-pot­ty or sim­i­lar with the chem­i­cals. Or at least a seat that can be put over a buck­et (my wife would have kit­tens over that!).

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions – I don’t have a good bat­tery AM/FM/SW radio. It’s on my list but I haven’t got­ten it yet. Need to speed that pur­chase up.

Defens­es – While I didn’t see any loot­ing nor heard any reports of it in my area that’s always a pos­si­bil­i­ty in a dis­as­ter like this. While I have some defense capa­bil­i­ty I do need to add some more. Sub­ject to fam­i­ly pol­i­tics too unfor­tu­nate­ly so I have to move cau­tious­ly and tac­ti­cal­ly. Prob­a­bly can’t get every­thing I would want (finan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions too). Also need to take a sec­ond look at body armor. See­ing how ten­sions were high at the gas sta­tions I vis­it­ed I could fore­see don­ning a vest under my jack­et before going out to the store or gas sta­tion both pre and post a dis­as­ter if things were pre­dict­ed to be so bad and area sup­plies low.

Bug Out Loca­tion – After the storm passed I found out the area around my would-be “bug out” loca­tion was hit very hard by flood dam­age. The loca­tion itself is prob­a­bly OK but I know the sur­round­ing roads, bridges and towns have suf­fered mas­sive dam­age. Even total dev­as­ta­tion! Get­ting there (as of writ­ing this) is in ques­tion for some time yet. And if I was there I could be trapped – espe­cial­ly if this was com­bined with a social SHTF event where repair crews and logis­tics would be scarce at best. There are alter­nate routes into the loca­tion but it’s ques­tion­able too if those are pass­able. Would be a big prob­lem to take the risk to evac­u­ate from home only to be stuck at impass­able roads or washed out bridges then need to find alter­nate routes. All with lim­it­ed fuel.

SHIP (SHel­ter In Place) is look­ing like a more prob­a­ble option for future dis­as­ters.

OPSEC – I see this as my biggest prob­lem. All the rest can be solved with pur­chas­es (“It’s noth­ing mon­ey won’t solve” as my father used to say). Carrie3570 is 100% right. In her video “WROL Real­i­ty” she express­es con­cern that in a SHTF dis­as­ter friends and fam­i­ly will flock to her home expect­ing to be tak­en care of and not even bring the basic food in their cab­i­nets. For sev­er­al days before hur­ri­cane Irene came I spoke with close friends. None were pre­pared in the slight­est! And per­haps worse, none even saw the need to be pre­pared!

Most wait­ed until Fri­day or even Sat­ur­day morn­ing to go to the super­mar­ket for food.
Most only got 1 or 2 cas­es (24 packs) of water – and many have 4–5 peo­ple in the fam­i­ly!
None even thought of fill­ing their cars with gas.
None even thought to get extra cash out of the bank.
None even thought to do their laun­dry before pow­er failed.

Among oth­er things they should be doing.

But they all uni­ver­sal­ly did say if things got bad they would come to – US!

At first I tried to say “Heck no!” but in a bit more tact­ful way. When it was obvi­ous that wasn’t work­ing I told them in no uncer­tain terms to be sure to bring food and water! And by “food” I mean what­ev­er is their cab­i­nets and fridge – not mere­ly a bag of chips and a bot­tle of Dr. Pep­per!

In the end no one need­ed to come. But that proved con­clu­sive­ly that my OPSEC is blown, though I had already pret­ty much expect­ed as much already. I know my wife extend­ed an invite to her par­ents who live a few towns to the East to come over if they had to evac­u­ate. That’s fine. I wouldn’t expect oth­er­wise and have planned as much as I can to include them in my preps. Besides, I like my in-laws and they have skills/knowledge that could be help­ful in a dis­as­ter. But not any­one else. I’ve told my wife as much sev­er­al times since start­ing to prep and repeat­ed it this time too. If this was a tru­ly awful dis­as­ter I may have to be very much Mr. Unpop­u­lar with some peo­ple. Hope it nev­er has to be put to the test.

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