Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Life Lesson...Don't Wait to Prepare

We don't have cable or satellite TV. We usually go to the library to check out movies or watch them online, so we are pretty much disconnected from the world around us. Of course, we have our emergency NOAA SAME radio, internet and phones.

Around noon Friday a relative told me about "getting ready to be snowbound". So I checked and discovered that we were under a winter storm warning and a snow storm would begin in our area at 4 pm. We are fairly well stocked and won't go hungry for a while anyway, but we usually restock our perishables, milk and bread on Fridays. I told my husband we needed to get to the store before it the rush hit.

It was around 1 or 2 pm before we got out and the rain already had ice in it. We had a few errands to run; we had to restock our movies, etc. By the time we got to the grocery, it was already a madhouse. It may have been a combination of the threat of the storm, rush hour traffic (laugh...we live in a small town) and the beginning of Friday night traffic, but the roads were packed and the lines in the grocery were backed up.

To make matters worse, I have a slight case of enochlophobia or fear of crowds. I try to avoid places where there will be lots of people. I start to hyperventilate if I get stuck in 4th of July traffic. (In this small town...another laugh). So I try to avoid the "milk and bread" rush on snow forecast days and here I was in the middle of it.

I had just read "One Second After" by William R. Forstchen, a story of one man's struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war based upon an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon that will send America back to the Dark Ages. The scene at the store made me think. If people are so unprepared that they would panic over an impending snow storm, what would they do if life stopped like in the book? How different this crowd would be if there were no more trucks coming to bring break and milk...if there were no more shipments of food of any kind or medicines. I realized how vitally important it is to be prepared for life's storms so we aren't stuck in the middle of a panic stricken crowd.

Back to reality, I manage to struggle through the crowds and leave with my milk and bread in tow. By this time, it was icing in earnest and snowflakes the size of half dollars had begun to fall. I reflected that in a lot of ways, I am prepared and working on getting prepared in all things, but there are a lot of people who are not prepared and not close to being prepared. It was evident in all the people rushing in the store carrying babies, all the carts gone and people waiting for one as I left the store. All the carts filled with groceries hurriedly being shuffled to cars.

The snow fell all that night and into the day on Saturday in some areas. A beautiful snow a terrible snow. The newspaper reported that there were flakes as large as your hand falling in some areas. Eastern Kentucky was declared a state of emergency with 16 inches of snow and 107,000 homes left without power.

The Monday Lexington Herald headline read "Power Outages to Last Past Christmas...Storm's Wake Leaves 87,000 in the Dark in Eastern Kentucky; Water also off for some." My husband's family lives in Eastern Kentucky and my husband's sister in law's power was off until today. Fortunately, Deb was somewhat prepared. She has a kerosene heater, fireplace and a generator so she was warm. But she didn't have water because the well pump is electric. Fortunately, she's not one of those poor souls who won't have power at Christmas.

I am glad that Deb was prepared, but other members of my husband's family may not be. We have tried to tell them for years to put up extra food, store water and have an alternative source of heat, but they won't listen. The last time we visited, I looked in my mother in law's cabinet and she barely had a dozen cans of food. Her fridge is bare and her freezer has mostly ice. She depends on her daughter, Jo, to bring her meals from next door, but I shudder to think of what might happen in a real emergency. She barely has enough blankets to go around when we visit.  I am sure they don't have a kerosene heater.

Jo has a fireplace that just needs uncovered. We have tried to convince them to get it ready to use in an emergency, but they have the TV in front of it. I know they are not prepared and there is nothing I can do to change it.  Jo told me that she was spending $500 on each of her three children at Christmas. She could take at least $1,000 of that to be better prepared and her kids would still have a great Christmas. Priorities, I guess. I just wish we could help them understand the need to be prepared.

I hope that this little life lesson will help them understand the need to be prepared. They are too far away for us to be able to help them in any real emergency. I will just continue to prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

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