Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Listening to Sandy
Originally published November 21, 2012

The entire nation watched recently as Hurricane Sandy took aim on our East Coast. One life truth I have observed is that scared people behave badly. As I write this it has only been four days since the downgraded superstorm came ashore and already people are misbehaving. Pre-storm reports of people grabbing items from others’ shopping carts coupled with reports of empty store shelves served to convey the message that when people wait too long to stock up, they just may be out of luck. Reports of long lines at the gas stations, looting and shortages of essential items abound. Other reports show homes simply being washed away.

So what are the lessons we can learn from Sandy and how should we prepare for such an event? Our situation is a bit different here on the West Coast. Our weather patterns don’t ordinarily lend themselves to the intensity the East Coast receives (Columbus Day 1962 notwithstanding). So our preps and plans will look differently than theirs. In most cases in our region it is just best to dig in, ride out the event and deal with the power outages, wind damage and possible shortages. An emergency evacuation may be necessary for some in the event of a tsunami or flooding, but for the most part an adequate plan would be to simply hunker down, ride out the storm or earthquake, keep an eye out for your neighbors’ well-being and stay put. Then roll out your generator, and start using the supplies you have so wisely stored up.

The situation with Sandy gave the folks on the East Coast ample warning of an impending problem. Upon receiving evacuation orders, the right thing to do would have been to put your plan in motion, load up your stores and get out of town. A pre-determined destination might be a family member’s home or some other safe location. Conflicting evacuation orders from governing officials served to cause confusion and delay for some. The lesson here is if someone, anyone suggests evacuation, do it. Immediately!

One interesting, potentially tragic story involved the back-up generators at a major hospital in New York City. One generator located in a lower level was flooded and failed right away. The second generator situated on the roof was fed by a fuel source located in a lower level. The fuel pump failed and the unit on the roof was rendered inoperable because of a lack of fuel. Some 260 patients had to be evacuated without the benefit of elevators and relocated in the mid-storm darkness. All because of faulty planning.

Disasters do happen, and they don’t always happen to someone else! As always you may send your questions and comments to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

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.

additional columns by Dave Robinson