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2021-01-22 21:36:36 (UTC)

Prompt 112: Hurricane Response

112. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated the south of Florida. How would you have coped with living through such a storm before widespread cell phone use and digital communication? How might such a massive storm be different today?

If this were actually funny, I'd be laughing out loud right now. Considering the number of hurricanes, storm events, and other various natural disasters have run unmitigated throughout the country, I really see no difference between then and now. But I suppose that's not answering the prompt honestly. So I'll re-center this.

So, in my bag, with me everywhere I go, is a LifeStraw. Although I've never used it, it's in there. Waiting for whenever I end up in a bug-out scenario (this is something I've -never- actually had to do yet, in my life). In the boot of the car, I keep my sleeping bag, an extra umbrella, my muck boots, a power inverter (the thing you plug into the cigarette lighter of the car to power things that use a typical electric plug), and maybe two boxes' worth of trail mix bars. The gas tank never has less than a quarter tank in it. These things are enough to get me by should I need to be in the same place for a couple days. I confess it's not a full "bug out bag" or whatever you want to call it. However, it's a start and it provides enough peace of mind to help me avert panic as much as reasonably possible.

The basement apartment where I live is similarly stocked. Since the pandemic began, I've been gradually building up a stock of non-perishables, drinking water, and basic cleaning supplies. I feel reasonably confident in my level of shelter-in-place preparedness. The only snag in my plan? The large, glass sliding door that leads out to the backyard. Were I required to defend myself from intruders, I'd be pretty much screwed. Though I am familiar in their use, I am no fan of firearms and don't have one of my own. I also feel like my typical just-outside-the-city-limits, edge-of-the-suburbs neighbours consist of a variety of political persuasions, and while I expect they would mostly want to get along should It Hit The Fan in a panic, I'd be one of the victims, and/or would need to bug out - or rearrange my furniture, creating a blockade for while I'm sheltering in place.

My long-time ex lives not too far away, so I imagine that in a tense-but-nebulous political situation I could visit her and stay for a bit. She could always use help caring for the cats, and as we'd already lived together for over three years, we could do this again. We each know how to pull our weight, and I'm certain she'd appreciate having someone on her team.

...The prompt actually asks, "How might such a massive storm be different today?" So I'll leave my own level of preparedness aside for the moment and broaden my perspective.

A friend of mine lives in Key West, and in 2020 he had to board up and shore up the house where he lives, and then leave town for over a month. He toured the desert parks of Texas with his girlfriend. Just picked up and left for weeks. I assume this is what the well-off people will do. Well, they'll bug out for weeks, or they will hunker down in their mansions. Well-off folks seem more well-armed than they were back in the early '90s. At least, it's easier to hear talk of people who have bought pistols or shotguns or "hunting rifles." They're usually wealthier white folks who mention these sorts of things, aren't they?

If you're poor or even middle-class, and live in a city, you're pretty much screwed unless you have water stored in your basement or hall closet or something. Realistically, how many people really are that prepared? To put a number on it: how many families have a mere four gallons of water in storage? How many single-parent homes? Most families - and this is also thanks to the pandemic and how it's strained the economic situation - have very little on the shelf, and likely will not be able to feed themselves and their family for a couple days, let alone a couple weeks. This isn't that they haven't thought about emergency preparedness, it's that they can't afford to do it. Even something as trivial as brushing one's teeth takes on a completely different meaning in an emergency situation.

How many people have extra medications at home? Particularly those who have prescriptions to address life-threatening, chronic illnesses, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or other debilitating conditions?

Do you really expect cel service, Internet access, etc. to be working flawlessly during a hurricane? It may be a localized interruption, but the people who need it most - the people -in- the path of destruction - won't have it.

There's no denying that the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, plus a strained economy, puts people in dire straits for a good three seasons of the year. That's even with four or five bars of cel service. One's level of "Being Screwed During A Disaster" is inversely-proportional to their level of disaster preparedness.

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