Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us
by Dave Robinson
Originally published January 03, 2017
Starting about a week ago, the news and weather folks began warning us a storm was coming. Rain, heavy rain, coupled with 100+ miles per hour winds will be striking the Southern Oregon Coast. Predictions of widespread regional destruction with comparisons to the 1962 Columbus Day storm the old timers remember so well. Travelers were advised to stay home unless absolutely necessary. Even yours truly topped off the gasoline cans, stocked up on junk food and even discovered I couldn’t locate one of my extension cords. I leisurely made my way to the hardware store and nonchalantly purchased a new extension cord.
Through casual conversation with the hardware store manager I learned they were sold out of flashlights, batteries, camping stoves, lanterns and candles. When I went to the grocery store, the story was the same. Some items had been pretty well thinned out and there were no AA or AAA batteries left on the battery display rack. According to the grocery clerk, folks had been stocking up all day on snack food, cookies, crackers and in my case, squirt cheese.
So what ultimately happened? Not much really. The storm, with a few minor exceptions “kind of tore itself apart,” according to one meteorologist. Citing a faulty computer model, the weather girl indicated that the storm simply dissipated due to a competing low pressure system.
All this may be difficult to explain to the residents of Manzanita, Oregon. This small coastal town suffered massive damage by a waterspout turned tornado which wreaked havoc on buildings and trees. Multiple other waterspouts were observed offshore with no reports of any further damage.
Locally here on the South Coast there were a few scattered power outages and some windfall limbs and branches. No reports of major damage. The heavy rains made for a few interesting football games on Friday evening. The game I attended was delayed 45 minutes in the middle of the second quarter due to concerns about lightning. At least one contest was cancelled mid-game for the same reason.
So what are some steps to take when a major storm is pending? In my case, I topped off the gas tank on my generator and ATV. (That’s when I discovered the missing extension cord.) I had filled all my propane tanks weeks ago, then made the trip to the gas station to top off my gas cans.
My wife made sure the laundry was all caught up. This is a task she usually reserves for the weekend, but since Saturday was supposed to be D-Day in storm language, she made sure everything was done ahead of time. A few snacks and comfort foods are always the order of the day when waiting out the weather. I rounded up a hand full of small flashlights and put new batteries in each. That way if a family member needs to make a trip to the bedroom or bathroom, they don’t have to take a lantern or candle with them.
And the downside? I suppose there is the danger of the “little boy who cried wolf” syndrome. Will people take the next weather warning seriously? I think we’re all smart enough to know that every so often the weather changes its mind. And the upside? We checked our preps and in some cases made a few dry runs. One person I know started his generator and let it run for a few minutes just to make sure it was going start when he needed it. Others double-checked their supplies and filled in where needed. Just like the fire drills of our high school days, we will know exactly what to do when the need arises. No harm done.
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Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives. Dave is the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”, available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and other online booksellers.
additional columns by Dave Robinson