Disaster Preparedness

Tree damage in graveyard

Nature is boss. In case we’d forgotten, she recently blasted the Northeast with gale winds and a few tornado touch-downs. Uprooting trees and knocking out electricity and even taking off the roof of a local (unoccupied) house, she reminded us that we are kidding ourselves if we think we are in control. Heeding this kick in the ass, I am both practically and spiritually rethinking how I live.

When the whistling wind turned to a roar and our cell phones blasted a tornado warning, Molly and I descended into the dark, old-house basement with dog, water bottles and flashlights. We felt sure the house would blow down on top of us. It did not and except for a few downed branches we made it through intact. Power was out for 3 days — a minor inconvenience compared to many who are without almost 2 weeks later. We were without internet for 11 days and since I work at home these COVID days, that was tough in a first world problem way.

I have lived without electricity and water for long stretches, including in winter during the war in the Balkans. Nothing like being in the cold and dark with the rattle of machine guns and an occasional thud of mortar fire shaking the walls. But not having water is the worst. These recent days in the dark, even as I stumbled to the sink, I felt grateful as I turned on the faucet or hopped, gasping into a cold shower. Temporarily losing these conveniences I take for granted is a great exercise in gratitude. So many around the world, because of war, poverty and injustice, (thinking here about poisoned water in Flint, Michigan and Navajo Nations with no running water!) lack this basic necessity and it’s criminal.

It seems a little crazy that we are so electricity dependent and all of that can be undone in a flash. Even in my life with wood stove and clothesline, I found those few days challenging. I am, like many, addicted to the internet. My phone is never far away from me and for no particular reason. I am rarely expecting a call. But there are so many pictures to look at! News and gossip to follow! I still had phone service and while it was charged squinted at the little screen for updates on my corner-of and the rest of the currently sorry-world.

Solar light shot

Evening entertainment during electric-free days, we enjoyed light-pollution free star-gazing and reading on the front porch. Only days earlier, I’d presciently installed solar motion-sensor lights so we settled in the evening breeze with our books and took turns waving our arms every few minutes to reactivate the light. (photo above)

Have you ever read The Road by Cormac McCarthy? I wasn’t reading that on the porch– in fact, it’s a book I tried and abandoned years ago because it was so bloody bleak. I mean, I appreciate dark but I can’t do apocalypse. But I’m still haunted by what I did read. Too real? Too possible? These days, I’d say yes. But I’m a practical gal and a survivor and I’ve started to plan.

What I missed the most during the 3 day blackout was my own food and cups of tea and the electric bidet toilet seat. (you mean you don’t have one?)  I’m working on preparing solutions for next time. In my Kyoto kitchen there was a hatch door in the middle of the floor that opened into a little ground storage space perfect for keeping food cool.  Isn’t that brilliant? I won’t be digging any holes outside but I might get another cooler and lots of ice. As for cooking, I don’t have a grill but am researching little hibachis and for morning caffeine fixes, a butane burner with shelf-life milk. And there are simple bidet options that don’t require electricity. Note: all bidets online are currently sold out – no surprise after COVID scramble for toilet paper.

Now that I have internet back, I’ve been able to do a lot more research on how to weather storms and in considering other possible catastrophes, what countries in the world I could escape to. Frankly, I’d rather stay here in my country in my sweet house, but I know it’s better to be prepared. 

Any suggestions on preparing for storms, elections and other possible disasters?



8 thoughts on “Disaster Preparedness”

  1. I am seriously considering retiring in another counter if Trump is re-elected.

  2. It’s good to be self-sufficient. There’s no place to escape to, by the way. That’s why I moved near the people who matter the most to me. My cabin that’s being built will be as off grid as possible – well, woodstove, and maybe solar power one day. I used to be addicted to the internet, too. Now I just use it for my blog and reading others’ blogs, weather reports, and if I need to buy something. 🙂

  3. You certainly created a little paradise – but I do think there are escapes that would be easier to live in. Less expensive for a start and I know spending most of the Reagan years out of country – helped. Of course, that was pre-internet! Maybe I’m just ready to adventure again. I’ll keep you posted and look forward to your shared slices of serenity. xxx

  4. I really enjoyed reading this, Tricia! An intriguing peek into your home (bidet! Kyoto kitchen! floor cooler!) makes me want to visit. I’m not prepared at all for a disaster, except for a list of what to grab first should we need to run from a sudden wildfire threat. But when we were traveling on our sailboat, we got used to no refrigerator, no fresh shower (salt water bucket baths did the trick), no washer or dryer, not electricity except what we were able to generate on our own, limited fresh water for cooking and drinking. That was all fine back then. Not sure about now. A way to make morning coffee would be high on my list though.

  5. Yes, we get used to our comforts, don’t we? I certainly am (the bidet!). Thinking of you as those fires rage. Stay safe! xxx

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