Monday, November 5, 2012

Equipment And Supplies We Used Because Of Super-Storm Sandy

Here on Long Island in NY state, our second hurricane, in 14 months, has come and gone. Well, this last one was really a tropical storm but a massive one that left a wake of destruction; they called it a superstorm. In that 14 month period we also had a pretty major hail storm, at least here in Nassau County and there was an earthquake too - not all that long ago. I guess that the quake was also within the last year or so. In addition, NYC, Long Island and surrounding areas have been subjected to tornadoes. They were something unheard of in NY, about 40 or 45 years ago, but my mother predicted them for NY back then. She thought so because she saw the weather patterns were changing and tornadoes were hitting where they never had hit before then. Then there is the gasoline shortage. Of course, there is the looting that is going on - hopefully no one will have to deal with that personally. Who knows, if Obama loses the election, maybe there will be rioting in the not so distant future too when those on the dole realize they will be taken off of it or that it will be drastically cut back.

Up this way, we just all had to deal with the effects of the latest storm to one extent or another. People do likewise all over the country for hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, droughts, floods, earthquakes, forest fires, and power failures. For those of us who have faced such, and the bad effects they bring, either we got ready ahead of time or were caught with our pants down but we all dealt with those calamities in one way or the other.

Take the recent storm for instance or any natural disaster. Maybe you were lucky and you did not even have your power go out on you. Maybe you were very unlucky and you lost a loved one and or your home. Maybe, like us - you fell somewhere in between. In this recent storm - Tropical Storm Sandy (it had been classified as a hurricane but was downgraded to being a tropical storm - a savage one at that) we had power go out on Tuesday and not come back until late Friday night. We also lost part of our roof (shingles in pretty big swaths) and others are lose and or cracked. It seems those shingles just keep falling off after that storm. As recently as today, a shingle fell off of my roof and there was little apparent wind, seemingly loosened enough by the storm to fall off sooner or later. We also had damage to: our gutters and leaders, the front railing, our sidewalk (two blocks cracked, I am supposing as the Linden tree out front swayed), and we lost chimney caps and had other apparent minor damage to the chimneys. We also lost a small amount of food. All in all, we were lucky but then we do live in the center of Nassau County, far from the shoreline and the storm did not hit us as hard as it did others who were much less fortunate.

At our house we used: flashlights; batteries; strike anywhere matches; candles; glo-sticks; our vehicles, gasoline and car chargers to charge cell phones (we all had filled our tanks prior to the storm’s arrival); the vehicle radios for news; our BBQ and propane to cook (even though we had gas in the house I cooked some meals outside just for the taste of grilled food – we had enough propane for sure); a water filter (we made sure to drink only filtered or bottled water); bottled water (only a little since we did have the filtered water); ice packs we had made before the storm to try to keep the fridge and freezer cold; ice from a local beer distributor (I got that after the storm from the distributor who had been wise enough and civic minded enough to stock up on a walk-in freezer full of ice before the storm hit and it was still frozen solid days after the storm when he sold it at regular – not inflated – cost; yes they opened for business even though they had no power); food for emergency use (we used some canned food we otherwise would not have used but needed some of it; yet, most of what we ate had already been in our fridge); food that we cooked right after our electricity went out so as to preserve it a bit longer (like eggs that my wife hard-boiled so they would not go bad and meats that she cooked so they would last longer in the fridge with ice packs). Of course there was also the emergency supply of beer, wine and booze that I had also bought before the storm hit and used with gusto during and after the blow. I had also pre-charged the two batteries for my laptop and used it for a bit of writing after the storm.

As for food, batteries, flashlights, matches, candles and water, we always have all of them available in emergency our supplies; I see to that. I lived through the height of the Cold War and learned about being prepared back then even if preparation back then may have been pointless had the involved nations started throwing thousands of nukes at one another. So, I am not a “prepper” to be cool or to be in line with the times, or to prepare for Zombies or for The Rapture but for all of them to some extent just as I am prepared for more realistic disasters such as natural calamities, collapse of our economy, failure of our infrastructure, long term civil unrest, and maybe even an invasion by enemy troops or a homegrown revolution or an attack by aliens from another world (or even Mexico). I was never a Boy Scout but I virtually always have believed the motto of the Boy Scouts of America: “Be Prepared”. The time to get prepared is before an emergency though and not during or after one.

My level of preparedness, while not being as high as one person or another’s, is assuredly higher than many of the folks I saw at Home Depot and Costco the day before the storm hit and even on the day of the storm when I went again to Home Depot. I had to go to both stores the day before storm, not for emergency supplies (except a case of HB Oktoberfestbier and some wine of which we probably had enough anyway but being prepared is a good thing), but for other regular things. I went again, on the day of the storm, to Home Depot, for something I had forgotten, the day before, for a plastering job that I wanted to finish. 
While in each store, I checked out things like the battery and flashlight aisles. You could not find a D sized battery in either store. They had AAA and AA batteries as well as C batteries at Home Depot and AA at Costco. There was not a single flashlight at Costco. At Home Depot, people were looking for batteries, in a panic. Home Depot also had some flashlights for sale – some small LED jobs, a sole two-pack of LED headlamps and some rather large flashlights - those that take those big 6 volt batteries that are about the size of a brick of 22 ammo. Folks were buying them as if there would be no tomorrow. One woman was lugging 3 or 4 of those big flashlights with her and someone with her also had a few. I saw that lone two-pack of LED head lamps and grabbed it up as I was passing and watching the circus. I already had two or three of them but figured that instead of looking for and grabbing the others out of my hunting equipment boxes out in our shed, I would buy those for my wife and daughter and have them readily on hand. Total cost, with batteries: less than $7.00 out the door; a great buy. I bought them not because we needed them but because they struck my fancy as I walked by and watched all the madness of those shopping for flashlights and batteries.
Funny, I saw at least 50 people, n those two days, in Home Depot buying batteries and flashlights and not one of them seemingly even gave a second look to any of the LED lights that were still available. Those little lights give out a sufficient beam of white light, use triple A batteries and the batteries can power the light for from 8 to 12 hours continuously – much longer than a conventional flashlight will go before it drains the batteries. There had to be hundreds of single bulb, penlight like, LED flashlights for sale to which no one was paying attention - amazing. Those must be the same people who are now clamoring to buy gasoline and are waiting on very long lines at gas stations.
Back to our house. In addition, to other things at the ready, I had firearms loaded and at the ready, in my home, that I may or may not usually keep at the ready. Luckily we had no need to actually use them other than to have them prepared for the worst like armed looters. So I guess, in a sense, I used them too if only in a preparedness role.
We also had taken precautions and had enough dry and caned dog food on hand to feed our five live burglar alarms plus the two that were visiting. But I digress as we did not actually have to use any of the surplus on hand.
There were also some things I considered using but did not use: our two Coleman gas fired lanterns, and our Coleman gas fired stove. I decided to hold off on these unless absolutely needed as I was leery of the potential for carbon monoxide problems or gasoline fueled fire. inside my house. If the need had arisen, we would have used them.
I cannot think of any other emergency equipment or supplies that we used but know if we needed some other things like first aid kits, blankets, gas masks, duct tape, tarps, sleping bags or go bags, we had them on hand. About the only two things I think we could have used that we did not have was a portable battery operated AM/FM/Weather band radio and a generator (and fuel for it). I considered buying a generator after Hurricane Irene hit us last year, then I had my personal hurricane (cancer) hit me and I forgot all about a generator. I was reminded of one last week and will have to look into getting one. If for nothing else, it would be nice to use it to power the electronic ignition for our furnace.
Are we ready for another storm or other disaster. I think so and they say one may be coming again this week - a nor'easter. They can pack winds up to 50 or so miles per hour and with the storm damage to our roof already, I am guessing a storm like that could rip a lot more of the shingles off of it. Who knows, that could be a good thing if the insurance company paid for a whole new roof minus two deductibles, one for each storm! As for preparedness, I have already replenished some items in anticipation of the possible nor'eatser. I already bought more candles to replace those we used after Sandy. I will try to buy some gasoline tomorrow or Wednesday but if not have enough to last for a few days at least.everything else, including Twinkies just in case of a Zombie Apocalypse.
What I am curious to find out is – have you ever faced a natural disaster and if so, what emergency supplies did you actually use during and after the storm. Mind you, not what did you buy or have on hand in case you needed it but what did you actually use?
All the best,
Glenn B

A Whale of A Tale That Took Too Long In The Telling

A couple of whales either beached themselves and died or two dead ones washed ashore (less likely) in New Zealand in 2010. As it turns out, they were two members of the world's rarest whale species - the Spade-toothed Beaked Whales, apparently a mother and her calf. The New Zealand Department of Conservation, no doubt a government agency, took photographs of them and also took DNA samples. There is no doubt in my mind that said agency was part of the government because it took them almost all of two years, since they were discovered in December 2010, until now to be identified. Here I was thinking our government worked slow!


Now, if you look closely, at the title of the article and then at the first sentence of it, you will see that these whales were either seen for the first time ever (as in anytime and anywhere) and it just happened to be in New Zealand OR they were seen for the first time ever in New Zealand but have been seen elsewhere before. It all depends on the a comma or commas, in the following sentences (the first one below is the first sentence from the article):

"The world's rarest whale has been spotted for the first time, in New Zealand, where two of the whales stranded themselves." (This sentence makes it seem like this was the first time that these whales were seen anytime and anywhere, AND coincidentally, the sighting took place in New Zealand.

Now read the sentence from the caption. If you look closely, you will notice that while there are also two commas in the caption, that accompanies photo in the article, they are located as to give different meaning.

The world's rarest whale, the spade-toothed beaked whale, has been spotted for the first time in New Zealand. The whale stranded and died on a beach in December 2010. (New Zealand Department of Conservation).

That sentence from the caption also informs us that the world's rarest species of whale was seen but it makes it seems as if it was the first time they were ever spotted in New Zealand and leaves open the implication that they could have been or were spotted elsewhere before.

Either way, it took way too long for the government to get around to identifying them. I wonder if they preserved the carcasses, it does not seem like they did so. It probably would have been a boon to the scientific study of these creatures, about which so little is known, had they done so. If the conservation officers, as I suspect, only took tissue samples for DNA testing, I would bet they are kicking themselves in their heads right about now (well maybe their bosses and some scientists are kicking their arses too).

All the best,
Glenn B