Q&A / 

October 31, 2012 AsktheBuilder Newsletter

Kathy and I made it back to New Hampshire safely on Monday. I want to thank you for your good wishes and your concern for our safety.

I'm really glad we made the decision to cut our visit short and drive home early. We walked over the threshold about an hour before the wind started to pick up here. The highest wind gust here at our house was 28 mph about 8 pm on Monday night.

Suffice it to say we were lucky here at our house. It could have been so much worse. Citizens and rescuers died along the East Coast. As the television and Internet reports are showing, many have suffered catastrophic damage to their houses and possessions.

Hurricane Sandy was everything, and more, the experts predicted it would be.

While the storm is still fresh in all our minds, I suggest we use this as a valuable teaching moment.


Taking Heat

None of what I'm about to say below is to be taken as "I told you so" or as being smug.

I already know that what I'm going to say will offend a few. How do I know that? I got two blistering emails from John and Mark in the past few days. They were highly upset about my remarks about how first responders would not be there to help you if you needed them.

Sadly, it happened. The first responders along the coast of New Jersey were totally overwhelmed. They couldn't deal with all the emergencies. Heck, in some cases the first responders couldn't even get equipment to where it was needed. Roads are gone, areas are flooded, etc. That's what I was referring to in my Special Alert emails over the weekend.

If you know someone who was affected directly by Hurricane Sandy and you were not, then this should be an invaluable newsletter for you. Why? Because next time it could be you or your loved ones. This time you and I dodged the bullet.

The rest of this newsletter is devoted to the take-aways from Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was a natural disaster. They come in many forms.

Some come with no warning at all, earthquakes are an example. Others come with little warning, say a tornado, flash flood or a forest fire. But storms like Sandy bellow they'll be coming days in advance.


Listen and React

Go back to 1938 and try to imagine being on Long Island wondering why all of a sudden the wind was starting to pick up. Twelve hours later a monster storm is upon you, and it's simply too late to get away.

Fast forward to today. We have satellite imagery, buoys in the ocean that transmit data, airplanes loaded with instruments that fly straight into the fierce storms and computer programs that accurately analyze all the data gathered above.

We have instant communications between ourselves. We knew days in advance that Sandy could, then WOULD, strike somewhere along the East Coast.

Yet thousands of people in harms way still did not heed the warnings.

Why? What is it about people that they feel immune from Mother Nature? Is that going to be you next time?

Are you a subscriber to this newsletter that got flooded? Did you not react? I'd love to know why and get a better understanding of this.


Countless Stories

I saw on Facebook yesterday a plea from a friend to help some friends of his who suffered from storm surge. They live in Broad Channel, NY. The oily, grimy water ruined all their possessions in their one-story house.

I had instant empathy for these people. But I said out loud sitting right here at my desk, "Why didn't they move their important possessions to higher ground? It would have taken one day and a few friends to move things to an offsite storage facility." Yes, it would be work, but they knew it was coming. The forecasters were warning people in New York City that things were going to get ugly.

The experts said there was going to be a storm surge. The early predictions were for 8 feet in their area. I know as I saw it on all the TV stations. The Weather Channel was pleading with people in this area to get prepared.

As the storm got closer to land, the storm surge prediction was revised to 11 feet.

Did these people not know the actual vertical distance between the ocean and their first floor? They had to. Just look at where they live.

Did you know this information is available for free online? Did you know you can get access to simple topographic maps that are easy to read? These maps show you what the elevation is of your house. They show the elevation of surrounding bodies of water, rivers, etc.

Did these people not know that the worst possible place to be in a hurricane is northeast of the eye of the storm? Did you know that?

Maybe I need to do a 30-minute class on PowHow about topographic maps, how to read them and how to interpret them so you know how to be safe at your home. Do you want me to teach that class? If so reply to this email and say so.

Do you want me to teach other classes about how to prepare? If so, speak up.


Getting Prepared

I'm hoping that when you see on television all the devastation and pain caused by Hurricane Sandy, you take a moment and imagine it's your house. It absolutely can happen. Just talk to my very good friend Bill who lives in New Orleans. Katrina paid him and millions a visit just seven years ago or so. It's still fresh in their minds, believe me.

I toured New Orleans eighteen months after Katrina roared through the region. I went to where the eye of Katrina made landfall. Eighteen months after the hurricane, there was still nothing there but bare foundation slabs and trees with trunks 30 inches in diameter snapped off 20 feet in the air like they were toothpicks.

Here are some photos I took. Remember, these were taken about eighteen months after that horrible hurricane.

If you're a new subscriber to this newsletter, five weeks ago I announced I was taking CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) training. It's been eye opening. I thought I was prepared for minor events and major disasters. I'm here to tell you I'm NOT prepared, but each day I'm MORE prepared.

I URGE you to sign up and take the CERT classes. You'll not regret it. Go to the CERT website and find the closest CERT team near you. You don't have to become a CERT volunteer - just take the classes!


Having a Plan

Just before the storm hit, on Facebook one or two of my subscribers reached out to me. Their message was the same. They were FROZEN with fear. They didn't know what to do.

Fear overcame them because they didn't have a plan. The heat of the moment was upon them, and they were caught by surprise.

It's time for you to have a plan. Here's how you start.

These are just a few of the questions you need to answer to create a preplan that will guide you when disaster appears in your life:

  • Where will you go?
  • What will you take with you?
  • What time of year is it?
  • How long might you be gone?
  • What can be replaced with an insurance check?
  • What can be left behind?
  • What are the most important things in your life that can fit into your car or truck within an hour?
  • Do you keep cash around the house? In a disaster, ATM machines might not work or will be empty because you got there too late.
  • Do you have enough food and water to last you three days? A week?
  • What about your pets?
  • Do you keep your cars and trucks gassed up?
  • Could you get in your car and drive without stopping for four hours if you had to get away?

I could go on and on with questions, but you get the point.

I beg you to start making a plan.

Perhaps I'll create a planning checklist for you based on what I'm learning at my CERT classes. Yeah, I'll do that just after I get the DIY Shed Videos edited. I started on them yesterday. They're coming along great!

Do you want me to teach a class about Getting Prepared on PowHow? If so, speak up.

I'll have a regular newsletter for you next Tuesday. It'll have two reviews in it for tools I just got.


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