Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding of epic proportions has caused havoc and heartbreak. Who can forget the images we have seen on our daily news? Certainly not this girl. But I will have to tell you, my previous post on this topic notwithstanding, that there are a couple of recurring themes that I have to comment upon. Food and water. Water and food.
I recall having a discussion with some co-workers about the importance of storing water. One of them, Phil, a millennial who was new to his marriage and to adulthood in general, said, “If I want water, all I need to do is go to my faucet and I get water.” Well, tell that to the people of Beaumont, Texas. They have lost all public water. They cannot even brush their teeth or shower. So, turning those faucets didn’t help them too much, did it, Phil?
Or how about the grocery store lines (a scene that is replayed each and every tragedy)? People fighting over basic supplies. Food is a critical component of our lives, and I can presume some kitchens were wiped out due to the floods, but when I look at images of people scrambling for food, diapers, and the like, I have to remind myself that not everyone has a disaster plan. And to my previous post, even I am reevaluating our plan in light of the Houston nightmare. I want to ensure I have a back up to a back up, because that is what we all need to do.
Some of the heroic moments from every day people in Houston make me proud to be an American. Seeing everyone pull together (save a particular televangelist, but I am going to just leave that right here) to do whatever was necessary to rescue people from flooded homes and roofs was just heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. And yet, there is an additional facet of patriotism and support for each other that we can do, right now, right where you live- and that is plan for yourselves.
If you haven’t learned to stockpile water by now, then I am not sure how much more convincing you need. One gallon per day per person. If you want to ensure you are covered for a week, then store enough for your family for one week’s time (don’t forget your pets!). If you want more comfort, then store more. But for the love of all that is holy, be a grown up and ensure your family can freaking drink water and brush their teeth in an emergency situation. That isn’t up to the government. That is up to you. Own it and do it.
If you have an infant at home, I get how difficult it is to stockpile certain supplies. My grandson seems to be changing diaper sizes almost daily. Having a year’s worth of newborn size diapers doesn’t do you any good when you have a chunky toddler. So what can you do? I would recommend stocking old-school cloth diapers. When your stash of disposables is depleted, you can use the cloth diapers to get you by (remember- there was a time in this country when that was all that was available and no one died as a result). Ensure you have the diaper pins, because that is kinda necessary. You can cleanse those diapers in a washing machine or by hand, if needed, and sanitize with boiling hot water. Hang to dry if needed. Convenient? Hell no. Get you through in a pinch when there is nothing left at the store (or you can’t even get to the store)? Absolutely.
Food? My word. Look, you have to plan for emergency food. And after Harvey, I would amend that to state you need to have nearly waterproof food storage. You can start small- capitalize on what is on sale. Pick up an extra bag of rice and store it in a food-grade storage bucket (very inexpensive, by the way). Get freeze-dried food (which has a ten year or more shelf life) and store some. Again, you don’t need to look like you are on an episode of Extreme Preppers to make this work- but you do need to do something. The average home has 2-3 days of food currently stored. Lose power or get flooded out, and you are done. Think about storing at least a week’s work of food. We store some essentials outside of our kitchen in a spare room, just to ensure that we have a little extra. Your family depends on food. Freaking store some food to ensure that they have what they need in an emergency.
If we all took care of ensuring we had our family set for at least one week in an emergency, that would free up a lot of resources to get the most vulnerable in our population the help that they need in a crisis. It would also ensure that we could take care of each other just as we have seen Texans come to each other’s aid. Talk to your neighbors. Don’t worry if they think you are a crackpot. They probably think all sorts of things about you anyway. Just have an honest conversation with them about how the neighborhood could be prepared to take care of each other in a crisis. Neighbors have been sharing their garden produce with each other for years. This is just one more step on having a preparedness plan. Because believe me- if you are the only one in the neighborhood with food and water in an emergency, you are going to be very popular…and vulnerable. Share knowledge and share with each other.
Water and food, food and water. Things most of us don’t think about to any great detail on a daily basis, other than what the hell to fix for dinner or someone whining that they are thirsty and there is nothing to driiiiiiiink because a sibling took the last Gatorade, and you remind them of the water that is right there, staring them in the face. But in a crisis, water and food means life or death. You can choose to prepare for the unexpected emergency, or you can gamble that one won’t happen and if one does, that the first responders and FEMA will hook you up.
I am just not willing to take that chance.
Prayers for Texas.