A quick rundown of what we are doing to prepare for the 79mph+ winds forecasted for Irene’s arrival here in the Happy Valley –
1. Drinking water, a gallon a day per person, theoretically enough for four days. Stop & Shop has Poland Spring, 2.5 gallon containers on Sale for 2/$5.00. If anything, this storm is going to be annoying, in that we may lose power for a few days. The Northeast is crowded, and the electrical grid is packed, if this hits NYC and Boston, lord knows, WMECO isn’t going to be able to get the help it had in the past to fix the grid (the HillTown ice storm, June 1st tornado), folks might be without power for a few days. In fact most of my tips have to do with dealing without power.
2. Easy food – Find things that come in a can, can be heated on a camp stove or a grill, and are easily stored in a cooler or on the shelf. Don’t go nuts here, a few cans, a loaf of bread, and some peanut butter will do. Trader Joe’s in Hadley was my stop for this – They were testing the turkey chili last night, and it’s a decent meal in a can. I bought some humus and cheese that I can put in a cooler if needed, and some organic pop tart’ish things for the kids.
3. Get the grill ready -In the days that follow, you might want a way to cook without power. Fill up your tank, and if you have a propane camp stove, get a few containers of fuel. Dick’s in Hadley or Don Gleason’s in Hamp will have the cook fuel. We fill our grill tank at the Hamp UHaul on North King Street.
4. Fill up your cars – No power for a few days, means no gas pumps. Fill it up now, and save yourself the hassle.
5. Hit the ATM – I never have cash on me anymore. But no power could mean no credit card machines working. There will be stores that operate with generators, but with cash only transactions, (when I was a teen, and a cashier at my local IGA, I checked people out through a few thunderstorm power outages with just paper and pen), cash on hand will be a good thing.
6. Pack a bag – When I go on trips with my boys and Callie, I pack a backpack for everyone. It’s easy, I can find things, I don’t dig through someone else’s stuff to locate the right kid’s shoes. A just-in-case bag for each family member put in the car ahead of time isn’t a bad idea. We live on the CT river here in the Valley, seven inches of rain could do some damage in terms of flooding – you may have to go somewhere else, and no one wants to have to grab things in a panic. And don’t forget a bag for your pooch, a couple of plastic containers for food, an a Ziploc of treats, and you will be good to go.
7. Take precious things off the basement floor – In terms of flooding I think the majority of us will, at-most, see water in our basements. A lot of folks have sump-pumps in the Valley, but sump-pumps don’t work without power. If your gram’s antique rocker is sitting on the floor in the basement, it’s time to get that chair to higher ground. Anything you don’t want wet should find itself on a higher shelf or table.
8. Store extra water for bathing, flushing toilets, etc. – No power may mean no water pump or flushing toilets for those with wells. Duck tape your drain, and fill up the tub. This tip comes straight from my Pops – when Gloria hit in ’85 we were out power in Northeast CT for a few days, being able to flush the toilet with the stored water was a good thing.
9. Secure yard items – Take down your umbrellas, put kids toys inside, find a spot for the grill. Our forecast is for 79+ mph here in the Valley, why tempt fate and risk having a lawn chair make its way through your sliding glass door.
10. Clean out the gutters – Again seven inches of rain and clogged gutters, won’t do well for the water in your basement factor.
11. Stop by the pharmacy – If you have scripts that need to be filled int he next week, fill them now.
12. Important papers – We have all our go-to papers in a plastic bin with a handle. I’m disconnecting the external hard drive that has all our music and photos on it, and putting that in the plastic box, and putting that on top of the fridge.
13. Don’t park under a tree – if you can help it, avoid those branches.
14. Ice, batteries, radio, flashlights, board games, books, beer – That is, things to have to make the lack of power situation more bearable.
15. Don’t Panic – Keep a calm head, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. I live in a house built in 1927, and she has survived the storms of ’36, ’38, and ’55 – we’re going to be okay, but we’re going to be prepared.
16. Take pictures – Remember it, write about it, tell the stories, pass on the tales.