I heard from Betty this afternoon, we just got off the phone. She has learned a great deal from the storm that just hit her area (the worst disaster she has ever been in personally), and she learned much from the experience (and major power outage - 5 days/nights for her) that she wants to share with WAVES, so that we can be as prepared-as-possible for emergencies, and (in turn) encourage others also in this regard (while always getting our own house in order first). Betty is settling in at home. There is much clean up to do both inside of her house (refrigerator/freezer) and outside (brush to clean up on the deck, etc.). She needs a few days to get these things in order, and then her plan is to go out and help others in her community. There is always need for one more pair of hands she said. She wants to check on any elderly that may need help, and or families who are in need that have lost homes or are in need of assistance. She also plans to involve her grandkids in this process, and said, she has already informed her family, "Our Christmas this year is going to be in service to others."
This is going to be a long one, so you may just want to print it to read and refer to.. This is part one of our conversation, I will post "Part Two" to follow this one..
In Betty's area, and around the Puget Sound area, there was a great deal of damage and many, many trees down. This was due to the great rain they have had recently (which caused flooding in Betty's home), and that was followed by snow that melted, and so the ground was soft. This made it easy for the strong 75+ mph winds to uproot large trees, which in turn blocked rural roads and even highways, as well as falling on homes.
Cell phones were not of great help, due to cell phone towers being knocked out.
There are still many without heat and power, and Betty asked that we continue to keep these folks in our prayers.
I am writing this in the order we spoke, so that I can post it quickly, as I know everyone is eager to hear from Betty. So, it may jump around a bit, but at least you'll have all the main points.
Betty noticed in the reactions of others (such as at a darkened Safeway grocery store she entered more out of curiousity and to learn from it than anything), - and what she observed was a "helplessness" in many of the people. Many had stories of the challenges they had faced and were sharing them with each other. Some were cheerful, others were distraught. When the storm has first done its damage - the emotions seemed to be at their highest, until folks were able to adjust to what had happened.
Betty realized while in the storm that due to the trees being down - you really were cut off from your neighbor or other help. You needed to be "self-sufficient" and able to take care of your own problems, as you were basically self-contained.
Early on as the storm was just getting going, the radio broadcasters made one point VERY clear -- no one was to call "911" for any reason other than being in "DIRE" and immediate physical danger. If a tree had fallen on your home, and water was pouring into the living room, that was NOT a reason to call "911".
This left a feeling among everyone that you really were "on your own", and given that emergency crew could probably not get to many homes anyway, there was the clear sense that you had to rely on your own wits and supplies to get you through.
I should mention first, what Betty said as being most important, and that is to go immediately your inner spirit and God whenever disaster strikes. This is the best way to receive the direction needed for the steps you need to take. Remain in that state of being connected to spirit throughout the situation, and this is also what we as WAVES are trying to do on a daily basis as well. This will serve us in an emergency, as those who feel disconnected from spirit are the first to succomb to fear and panic.
Here is a list of items (suggested by Betty) to stock up on (BEFORE an emergency threatens your area), as these are so VERY needed and valuable in an emergency!
Safeway Grocery store was open - there were no lights on, it was very dark and freezing in the store. Many needed items were out of stock.
~~FLASHLIGHTS & LANTERNS - EXTRA BATTERIES AND BULBS
You need both. And each family member will want to have their own flashlight or lantern, as well as a lantern in each of your primary rooms where you spend your time. Battery-operated are best. Betty discussed how oil lanterns and some candles have odors that will give you a headache after a while. Don't forget to purchase some extra 'bulbs' for your lantern or flashlight if possible.
Were you planning to use only candles if your electricity went out? Many homes actually caught fire due to incidents with candles. Better safe than sorry.
SWEETS & COMFORT FOODS - Yes! These are something that we humans reach for when we are in a stressful state. They help to calm us, just think of how true this is after a 'bad day' at work, and it makes it easy to see why sweets are needed in a disaster.
HIGH-ENERGY & PROTEIN FOODS
Now, in addition to sweets, you also need 'actual' sustinance and energy to keep you going. Peanuts, peanut butter (and crackers to go with them), as well as canned fish and meats.
Also in great demand were things like "Prepared chili", such as that which comes in a can or glass jar, and Chili con carne, and canned Stews. Betty said her family "needed" the comfort of the hot soup and hot chocolate too.
GENERATOR - Betty has one, although she did not get to the point of having to use it. Betty had working plumbing during the power outage, but folks who have wells and a pump did not have the ability to re-fill their tanks after flushing. Many of these folks did a wise thing, though, and filled their bathtubs with water just before the storm hit - so that they could use buckets of water to flush their toilets.
CASH - ESPECIALLY IN SMALL DENOMINATIONS -
This was VERY important, as the few stores that were open were not able to use "ATM cards" and therefore cash was needed to purchase any supplies you may be missing.
GAS - Was near to impossible to get. Many ran out of gas even waiting in the long gas lines. Some gas stations charged $10 a gallon, even though this is illegal (they will deal with it later, they figured).
Betty recommends NEVER allowing your gas tank to go below a half tank. As far as she looks at it, that is your 'extra supply' of gas. In fact, the gas in your own car is what would be needed if - for instance - your generator ran out of gas and you needed more gas to run it and keep warm. You may also need a full tank of gas to drive to safety, and when that time is needed, it is NOT the time to be trying to buy gas to do so.
HAVE A PLAN - Make some advance plans for how you would handle a power outage. For instance, if you have all electric heat, is their a neighbor's home you could plan to go to? Or is a generator a purchase you make want to make for long-term investment?
PHONE NUMBERS -
Have all of your loved ones phone numbers WRITTEN down somewhere -preferably in one place - or on a sheet of paper that each member of the family has a copy of (including their cell phone numbers & some numbers of a friend or two that live out of state. Oddly enough, very often these are the people who are easiet to reach and check in with to let someone know you're okay.
ORDER OF FOODS -
Betty kept organized as best she could for her family. And also, it is worth mentioning, she kept up with things like washing the dishes and maintaining good hygeine and things like that. Doing these things brings a comfort to everyone, as the tendency is to become disorganized as everything is already in a state of disfunction during an emergency. So, by being organized and keeping up with things, you can help to maintain a sense of calm for everyone. As Betty said, it's important to a good mental attitude.
The first foods you want to eat are those in your fridge, as these will spoil first. Next, you go to your freezer. Betty mentioned that things with bread in them are the first to defrost, and those with water in them like fish, defrost next. You want to reduce waste by using foods in the proper order. Some foods will likely need to be discarded. The last thing to defrost is meats, so these are good and will keep for a bit longer. After all that, is when you would want to begin going to your supply closet of foods - or canned goods that you have on hand.
If you were not conscious of trying to eat in this order, it is easy to see how you could mistakenly go for your canned foods first, and then if a prolonged power outage should occur, you would regret not having taken full advantage of all that you could from your refrigerator/then freezer.
Betty had a free-standing (natural) gas heater on her porch that she had installed when they first began living in that home. This was good for heating up soups, stews and water.
There were hundreds of folks hospitalized from not using gas-generated generators properly and coming down with carbon monoxide poisoning. Gas generators should never be used indoors, or in places where the draft from them could come indoors through an open door or window (as the fumes are odorless).
SIPHON - Have a good siphon on hand. Do not use your mouth and a hose to siphon gas from your car (if needed) but rather a proper siphon.
[Betty did say that some fights ensued, and houses were broken into and people were very 'bold', going right into houses - knowing that many roads were blocked to police and emergency crews to get to.]
PLASTIC SHEETING/TARPS & PLENTY OF DUCT TAPE
Betty said to get the plastic sheeting that comes in a long roll at the home supply center (Home Depot), so that you can "cut what you need to use" if you should need to patch or secure a window. Betty's window were "bowing" in the 75+ mph gusts of wind, and she was very lucky none of them broke. She had an 8-pack of duct tape to use if needed, though.
Gas-Powered (wood) CHAINSAW -
These were needed by those who had fallen trees on their homes. Remembering again, that Betty said you can't rely on anyone helping you if you have a tree that comes through your roof. Many people were trapped by things like this.
LARGE VEHICLE -
Okay, here is something you can't just 'run out and get', but it may be something you want to consider when purchasing a vehicle. Betty was so glad to have her truck, because it is higher up (and could go over smaller debris) and it can HOLD a lot of items, if you have to relocate for awhile (which she did) as they stayed at her son Jeffrey's home for a little while. Incidentally, Jeff had an indoor gas stove for cooking, which Betty hopes to have installed soon for her own home.
Ideally, you want to be able to stay home, and not need items that are away from home. Many individuals can be edgy and volitile when supplies are low. Road rage is also a concern at these times. Try to have your supplies in order, so that you can operate out of your home without having to re-stock.
If you are needed to be self-sufficient during an emergency - you may need first aid training and supplies. Consider taking a first aid class to learn basic skills, and have first aid items and basic medicines on hand. Things like pain relievers, fever reducers or other medicines and supplies (such as those to clean and dress a wound) may be needed.
Some folks were stranded in their cars for days. Many of these folks were those who had gone out to get gas.
Betty says keep your gas tank full at all times. Try to refill when it is at three-quarters of a tank to always keep an adequate supply.
An auto-emergency kit should Absolutely include things like, flashlight, water, blanket & emergency solar blanket ($2.99 at Target, you wear the silver side in to trap your body heat), energy bars, gloves/hat/scarf/rain poncho, cash in small bills, a few basic tools, road hazard triangles, jumper cables, de-icer. I also think a reflector or reflective vest is a good idea too, in case you have to walk, and in poor or dark visibility. For snowy weather, having a bright orange hat or vest (the kind hunters wear, would seem smart).
RADIO (Battery and/or crank operated)
This was vital to Betty's family. The radio announcer told where-to-get needed supplies, and also served as a communicator of what was going on with others (as folks would call in and share what they were going through). Have plenty of extra batteries to last for a pro-longed disaster situation.
These cost only about $10, but they are often the only phone that will work if electricity is out but you haven't lost your phone line. Pick one up inexpensively, as these are a must have for emergencies.
Have all your gear where it can be "quickly grabbed".
This is something that Betty learned first hand. Even though she has many supplies on hand at home, she found that having everything in one easy place was important, so that you don't have to waste energy gathering things located in different places, especially if you need to transport them, as she had to for a few days.
If possible, keep a 3-month supply on hand.
These can be a good way to communicate with neighbors or family nearby, if both of you has a charged walkie-talkie, and especially if phone lines are down. (Again, batteries would only last so long, but in a high wind storm or other weather situation, you may like to keep in touch with another family during the storm itself and just after - or at pre-agreed upon times to "turn on your walkie talkie".
Soup/Stews with meat, hot chocolate/coffee, soft drinks. These were all things Betty had on hand and they were "in demand" for comfort and sustinence.
Yes! Keep a relaxed attitude and keeping spirits up is important during an emergency. Betty noticed that her granddaughters became frustrated by the inconvenience of the storm. This, she said, was because they had never experienced hard times and a disaster before. They needed the comforts of games, etc., to keep themselves occupied. So did the grown-ups at times.
Ladies, this can be true for the men also. Keeping busy can keep their spirits up as well, as men tend to want to handle things, and sometimes in an emergency there is "downtime" when not much can be done. During these times, keeping busy and with any productive tasks or a "to-do" list can keep the average man from going stir-crazy until the beef stew is ready. :-)
Keeping a positive mental attitude is important and benefits everyone. Naturally, there can be anxiety along with the uncertainty of emergencies, and so families need to work together to keep each other's spirits up, and needs met. If given the opportunity to cluster together with other family members, or remain separate, it is better to cluster together.
Betty's son Jeff also had gas, and therefore a warm shower. Another huge convenience and comfort that we take for granted most days. There are also plastic bag shower kits - that cost about $6, and hold (heated up) water that you could use to shower with if you had nothing else. They are sold in camping supply stores or where camping goods are sold in major discount stores.
Many of us are electricity-dependent. Even those who have thier power lines underground in their neighborhood are still often left without power, because the 'source' of the power is all above-ground. This breeds a false sense of security among many.
On Betty's radio before the high-winds - they informed folks that they should "plan" to lose power during the storm. Incidentally, I asked Betty how much 'advance warning' she had of the high-wind advisory, and (I'm pretty sure) she said only 7-8 hours.
It will be months before it looks normal where Betty lives - that's how many trees are down and damage has been done. Only 2 trees came down on Betty's property, but not into any dangerous spots.
Wood was in high demand! Dry, usable firewood. So many people were using wood for heat that Betty's throat hurt from the pollution in her area - and she wasn't even burning wood herself! Air quality masks would help, especially those with compromised respiratory systems.
Here's the rest of my conversation with Betty about what she learned from the storm and encourages us all to do, as we are able.
Betty found that MANY were not very prepared. There were not enough "leaders" as she looked around her (when she was out in the public), but rather many looked in shock or in need of someone to direct them.
"Preparedness isn't new to me, it's something I have done all my life." Betty has also taught this to her children, and Betty's children are now teaching it to their own children. In disasters, it is important to help out your family members to regain order after a disaster, pitching in and helping each other is part of being a family. When I talked to Betty, her daughter Donna was soon coming over to help get Betty's house back in order. :)
PROMPTINGS FROM SPIRIT
Listen to the promptings of spirit when you feel "alerted" to a disaster or guidance to seek safety in another place. Oftentimes we rationalize or dismiss thoughts that are inspired by spirit, but by remaining connected, as best we can, through prayer, and by being open to hearing and following the inner guidance we are receiving, we can sometimes navigate to a safer area even before a storm hits. This actually happened to Betty in Texas one time, when she was awakened by spirit one night and told to get out of Texas. She did, and as she left Texas, 6 tornadoes hit the area where she had left. There is great calm when we have the inner trust of listening to spirit.
Disaster is also a great time to pray for others, and Betty wanted everyone to know that we all remain in her continued prayers.
Many responsibilities were Betty's to take care of, due to Joe's heart condition (lifting and packing the truck),.and so if you may be caring for another during an emergency, it helps to be prepared for this as well (as best you can), and take time to rest during the process of maintaining the household too.
Just this week, I saw a women on the news who went to check on her children in the storm, and was saved by that action because a tree came crashing into her bedroom ceiling. When we listen to our inner guidance and pray for direction, it very often comes in the form we need it most. Sometimes we "choose" not to listen to that inner voice, but very often the promptings on the best course of action are always available to us.
CELL PHONES -
A major problem for many people was that they only had their loved ones' phone numbers stored in their cell phone. Because they did not have access to their cell phones, many could not retrieve the phone numbers of loved ones that they wanted to get in touch with. This is why keeping a written list of phone numbers is so important.
This disaster was yet another reminder to Betty, that what is important in life are the people around us, our family and loved ones. As well as, for Betty, enlightening others about God.
There were widespread transportation problems due to lack of gas, downed trees, buses not running, etc.
This was good to have extra of on hand. Bread keeps in the freezer for longer, you just have to get in a habit of rotating your extra supply, and keep it in a tupperware bread freezer container, as this will keep out the bad taste of plastic from putting the bread into a plastic bag in the freezer.
DATE EVERYTHING - So that you can rotate your extra supplies of food.
MILK - Have powerdered milk, canned or powdered formula for babies, and/or rice or soy milk on hand - [the boxed or canned, unrefrigerated, shelf-stable stuff] keeps (unopened) for MUCH longer than [normal cold milk in the refrigerated section]. This is important as cereal is easy to keep an extra supply of around, to provide a meal.
BABIES/TODDLERS/CHILDREN - Consider the foods and formulas (and perscription meds) they may need and plan (ideally) according to Betty for at least a 3-month supply of food/water.
GARBAGE - People had a big problem with garbage piling up and not having an extra supply of securable garbage bins. In an area with wildlife, this can be an especially important consideration. An extra trash container or two can store tarps and plastic sheeting or other preparedness supplies when not in use for garbage.
TARPS - Have extras on hand for any large leaks or for making or enhancing shelter if needed.
Betty and her family were not able to be out Christmas shopping as many others across the country were this past week. Betty told her kids, don't labor and burden yourself over this. "You're all safe." (That is the most important thing and what I care about most.)
RIPPLE NUMBER ONE -
Betty said that in an emergency you need to first "get your own house in order" so to speak. ((You)) are the first ripple in the ripple effect. Once you have everything under control (and a solid base for yourself), then you are able to reach out and see if others can be helped.
BEING ORGANIZED -
It is very helpful to know what your supplies contain, and for boxes and backpacks (etc.) to be labeled with their contents on the front of each.
Betty will try to show us pictures from what is going on in her area. These will be for teaching purposes, so that we may learn better how to prepare for disaster ourselves.
HOW MUCH OF A SUPPLY?
Betty recommends at least a 3-month food supply for everyone. If you have more than that, even better.
Betty did not have to touch her extra supply of preparedness foods.
(I missed mentioning these on the auto kit I mentioned in Part One of my post, but they are VERY important!!).
There are certain candles that are made specifically to keep you warm if you are stuck in a car or small space. They are non-toxic and sold on beprepared.com. I think they are only $3.95 a piece.
They are an important part of your auto-emergency kit. You have to crack a window to use them, but they are a life-saver if you are stuck in the cold in your car. Hand and foot warmers "patches" are also good to have. As well as peanut butter and crackers in your car.
72-hour kit - KEEP ONE IN YOUR CAR
You never know when you may be unexpectedly stranded and have need of the items in it. In the Seattle area, there were 1,000's Betty said who were trapped in their cars for days.
It is interesting to note that in Las Vegas now, there was just recently 5 inches of snow (very odd!) and here in the Northeast, it is unusually mild. It seems worth mentioning that we must be prepared for unusual weather patters and storms in our area. As I walked in my backyard today in the unseasonably warm weather, I thought about how it almost gave a false sense of security to how quickly the weather can change for the worse (wind/rain/snow/low temperatures/etc.), and how ~ like the squirrel I watched nibbling on a treat in my backyard, we must put aside some storage for winter, because (like emergencies) it will come whether we are prepared or not.
Okay, I believe that about covers it.
Please refer to the Fall Newsletter [click link] for more great Preparedness info and tips, as well as the Red Cross's website, and/or beprepared.com for needed supplies.
If you have questions, post them here so that we can all benefit from thinking about them, and so that we can help each other with how to find the answers and needed supplies.
Love to all, and a safe, peaceful night,
Betty sends her love to all! She hopes to be back to check-in on the board in a few days. : ) Until then, and thank God - she and her family are safe. Thanks for the many prayers, everyone!
Betty sent this message yesterday at 2:22am Pacific time. I think I went the whole day yesterday without checking my email - so sorry!
At that time, when she emailed, her area was beginning to experience high winds.
Here is what she had to say about the approaching weather and what was on her mind...
"The winds are increasing and more trees are expected to fall on power lines tonight. This could mean that neither electricity or phones will be available again for many. Some have been without heat and lights for over a week now. Across the valley from me, the hill side that is usually lit with the warm glow of lights from homes is now black and ominous in appearance. I can imagine people huddled in their beds after a make shift dinner. It is cold, windy, and rainy, and my heart goes out to them and all others in like position. Makes me ponder what we take for granted without thought of ever losing! I think of the tremendous loss of loved ones and the financial loss that some must surly be suffering since this storm and the heartache they must must feel because of it.
What an awakening to what is really important in life; family, friends and security for all are at the top of my list, however, even more important is a firm belief in God and a knowing that all is in his loving hands for his care... and that life on earth is our temporary abode... that one day we will live again in the comfort and security of our Heavenly Home with Him. I see on lost faces the absence of this belief. I see fear, anger and despair. Yes, there are some whose spirits actually lift in times of crisis and they shine brighter than at any other time as if set apart by God for special times such as these to act as conduits of hope."
Betty went on to discuss some wonderful ideas that she was working on to help those in her area. That is what she had planned to do yesterday during the day (go out into her community and take personal action to help wherever she could) - light, heat, ...a hot meal, whatever God might lead her to do for another is what she was desiring to do.
She ended by saying..
"Thank you for your prayers, I feel them support me in the standards that I hope to always live. God bless you for being the wind beneath my wings for with your help I know that I can fly higher."
God bless everyone here for being the wings beneath each other's wings, and Betty's! It's clear the folks in the Northwest (and all facing difficult circumstances at this time) can greatly can use our prayers!! May everyone have a thoughtful stranger nearby to care for them like Betty would!
I almost forgot!
Here was the "P.S." to Betty's email. - I thought it was important to share, as her closing words reminded me of our role as Warring Angels.
"P.S. The winds are calmer already now. It is 2:22 AM...I stayed up to pray through the night as I know so many others have. Night Watchmen we are:)"
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