Self-sufficiency is a necessity and not something we should ignore. It is a reality that at any time nature, foreign enemies or civil unrest could and has disrupted our lives. In America we have had a very good life and if you are reading this you can, at the very least, afford electricity, internet and some type of technology that enables you to connect to this website. I have very little myself but I have found a way to balance my expenditures so that I can afford those luxuries and the necessary items for the unexpected.
As I’m writing this article there are millions of people in New York, New Jersey and beyond suffering through unimaginable disruptions, pain and loss due to hurricane Sandy. Unless you have experienced this type of pain and loss you may not understand the complete and utter feeling of isolation and stress. In April of 2011 some of the worse tornadoes in the history of meteorology record retention, Alabama (my home state) suffered the same type of loss and pain. I witnessed the destruction first hand. The devastation wasn’t just isolated in Alabama but covered several states over an extended period of time as winter turned to spring and our atmospheric conditions spawned nature’s fury.
In the 1990’s a horrific snowstorm hit the south and as anyone knows we are never fully prepared for that kind of onslaught. We had six inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures for over a week. Needless to say we also had no power, no power means the furnace won’t ignite. We had no phone service as we only had a land line. To add insult to misery the water pipes were frozen so we had no tap water. All of this during the coldest weather the south had seen for over a decade. My youngest son was about ten years old and as a single mother cut off from the rest of our family, found that I had to reach inside and find ways to keep him warm, feed him and keep him safe. We were actually without power, phone and gas for two weeks, a shorter time for water.
The snow storm that confined us to a frigid and frightening time was nothing compared to the dangers we face today. All of that was pre-terrorist attacks, before much was known about the failing power grid and long before the weather began to take a turn toward the most wicked weather I’ve known in my sixty-eight years on this earth.
We have a two-story house that was built in the 30’s so there wasn’t much insulation and the windows were drafty to say the least. The upstairs was sucking any warm air directly up the stairway cooling it off almost immediately. I knew I had to find a way to isolate any heat we could generate to the kitchen if we were going to have any warmth at all. Gathering a hammer, some nails and several blankets I began tacking the blankets over the kitchen door (there is no actual door just the opening) and around the windows to stop all drafts. We had flashlights, batteries and a portable radio but that was the extent of our electrical power.
Thank goodness we had a gas range and although the electric starter wouldn’t light the pilot, I could light it manually with a match. Also, I had read somewhere that if you put clay flower pots over the eyes of the stove and turn on the flame, that the clay would get hot, retain heat and radiate that heat for up to an hour. I had flower pots on our covered porch so they were accessible without having to walk out into the snow and ice. So we began heating our little cocoon. Afraid of carbon monoxide poisoning, I would use the oven for short periods as well as the eyes to heat the flower pots and turn them off at different intervals.
We brought sleeping bags, sofa cushions, pillows and all the blankets we had to the kitchen and made a big bed of layer after layer of covers, cushions and pillows in the kitchen floor. The only times we left that kitchen was to go upstairs to the bathroom. We were able to make coffee, hot chocolate, soup and hot tea on the gas range and I had a few jugs of water stored which was a godsend. We improvised for two weeks but that was a wake up call to me. So many people suffered much, much more than we suffered because of just a tiny bit of planning and knowledge.
We didn’t rely on the government or expect any agency to come to rescue us, nor would we have left our home if they had. We worked together, played endless games of cards, made cookies and talked ourselves to sleep at night until that glorious day when the house came to life with power once again. Now everyone is married with lives of their own and although we live in close proximity, I encourage them all to prepare for the unexpected. I have food storage, water storage, bug out bags, medicines, first aid, cooking tools of every kind imaginable and everything I could possibly need to take care of myself and the family’s of my three children if and when disaster strikes.
Each of my family members has a special skill, equipment and knowledge for survival. We have a place to go if we need to leave the city. If you are reading this article, I want you to think how important your loved ones are to you. Have the tools and knowledge to care for yourself and your loved ones. It is a frightening thing to be cut off from the world. Learn and prepare so you don’t have to rely on a government agency to care for you. That could be the worst mistake you could make on your quest for survival of a major disruption for any reason.