Preparing for Hurricane Sandy

October 29, 2012 · 12 comments

in Journalism how-to's, Money issues

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Please excuse me for moving slowly but I just spent the last 24 hours getting ready for Sandy — leaving me with a sore back. And it needs to heal up today because in another 24 hours, I hit the streets to cover the story.

The superstorm is heading our way, with the entire east coast bracing for the worst. Schools, airports and trains are closed. Winds gusts of 70 miles an hour are expected later tonight. Here in New York, we’re in an official state of emergency.

I’m not sure that I’m ready.

My windows aren’t boarded up because I don’t know how to do that. Other things are in order though…

Water: My tub is filled with water for toilet flushing. Every big pot and container in my kitchen is filled with drinking water. Will go and buy some bottled water later.

Food:  We have canned and dry food that won’t need cooking. I also steamed some collard greens. As for the rest of the beautiful farmers’ market veggies in my kitchen, they’re all washed and ready for salad-making or even cooking; our living room wood-burning stove and cast iron skillets that might come in handy if we lose electricity. Meanwhile, the fridge’s icemaker is working overtime.

Basement: I am terrified of flooding. The basement has lower level and a higher level that is two steps up. The upper basement contains the guts of the house — boiler, electrical panels, etc. Unfortunately, my basement has been filled with so much junk that it was a fire hazard. But the piles of old clothes, dishes, books and other stuff thrown helter skelter are now boxed, bagged and lugged upstairs to the front hall, ready for donation later this week. Still more to do down there but at least now you can see the floor!

Outdoors: All the little things that could become flying missiles (wind chimes, garden knickknacks) have been taken down. Patio stools and small tables have been put away. I tied a tarp over the stack of firewood on my front porch and cleaned the driveway drains. My daughter Gabi helped me rake leaves off the driveway.

Indoors: The house is clean. Laundry and dishes are done. All the rooms, vacuumed. Later today, I’ll get my daughter to help me staple plastic over the vents in the attic. Candles are handy. We have plenty of flashlights and batteries. Our laptops, the iPad and the cell phones are fully charged.

Sandbags: So proud that I went to Home Depot, loaded up six, 50-pound sand bags and drove them to my house. That’s 300 pounds that I lugged all by myself! By the end of the day, when my back was shot, Gabi helped move the sandbags into place in front of our basement entrance.

Friends: Last night, I went over to visit my friend and neighbor Angela, toting a very nice Argentine white wine. It’s called New Age, a fruity mix of 10 percent sauvignon blanc and 90 percent torrontes. Poured over ice with a splash of lime…divine! After we finished off the entire bottle, it was off to our local pizza parlor for pizza and calzones with her kids. She made me promise to call her and her husband if I need any help during the storm.

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So….I have 24 hours more to be a resident healing a grouchy back. Since I work Tuesdays to Saturdays, tomorrow morning I will switch heads to become a digital reporter. I will put my personal concerns aside, pull on my rubber boots, grab my laptop and iPhones, get into my old four-wheel drive SUV and cover Sandy’s aftermath. I’m not sure I’m ready for that either.

But there’s only one choice in this life right now: I’m just rolling with it.

Hope you all stay safe. Please let us know if you have worries or tips to share. xoxoxoxo

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ & TJ October 29, 2012 at 7:06 am

Betty,
Boarding Windows: This is done with plywood which may have to be cut to size. You hold it down with Marine Grade Grabbers (she brass ones which won’t rust) To drive the Grabbers in you need a cordless Drill (preferably) and a driver bit that fits the grabbers. ( here is a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a8SwYKC-oY )
The best source of what you need is FEMA. They recommend you make a 72 hour kit for EVERY MAMBER of your family (http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit). It is also recommended you have in in a place where you can grab it quickly. The reason you have to prepare for 72 hours is because that is how long it may take emergency services to get organized.
Another thing you need to consider is keeping warm. If the power goes out then your furnace won’t run either. There are two things you can consider here. One is a portable heater and the second is to make a fire in your fireplace. You can buy a box of logs that last 4 hours each for about $25 fro a box of Six. If you use a heater inside beware that you need to have fresh air flowing in your house. I have a wood burning stove which has the advantage of being able to cook and melt snow on it as well.
Boarding up the windows: To do this you will need to get sheets of plywood which may have to be cut to size to fit over your windows. You fix these in place with Marine Grabbers and a drill with a driver bit in it (a cordless drill is the best).Marine Grabbers are brass and will not rust.
It is also a good Idea to have a roll of Duct tape or even better a roll of the military “100 mile-an-hour” tape. HALO jumpers, who hit 150 MPH on their free-fall, use this to tape their equipment down.
The best I have seen other than the green Military stuff is Gorilla brand. A roll of plastic sheeting or a tarp is a good thing to have at hand.
When placing sand bags it is also important to make sure you have a place for the water to go.
Another thing to consider buying is a a radio. They have ones that you can be cranked that will store. What your looking for is one which has weather band.
I hope this helps. There is a lot more I could add. Let me know if you have questions. I have a lot of expertise in these areas. I have a years storage

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betty ming liu October 29, 2012 at 7:11 am

MJ, there’s just so much I can figure out and I’m not going to bother with plywood now. Too late for this storm but I appreciate the video and will plan for the next one. Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

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june October 29, 2012 at 9:54 am

Betty, be careful and stay safe!

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denise October 29, 2012 at 10:14 am

I have a house too but you are even more prepared than I am. I’m sure I’ll be fine but a sand bag or two would have helped and wished I realized to clean up leaves that recently blew into yard since I have not trees on my property. Be safe in the storm Betty!

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betty ming liu October 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm

June, I’m good — thanks! It’s raining here with whipping winds but not too bad yet. No one in my town has boarded up their homes or shops. I take that as a hopeful sign. There are Con Ed emergency utility trucks crawling the streets and I just made a cozy fire in my wood stove.

Denise, if nothing else, the sand bags give me peace of mind. And we’re all learning what to do, storm by storm. Hope you stay safe too. As for me, I just crawled into bed. My back is feeling better but I still think that this is a good time for a nap. :)

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Skye October 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Have a good nap! I think your tips are useful. I didn’t think about filling the tub with water for flushing. Smart.

Also, it was important for me to see that you included friends on your list of to-do things regarding Hurricane Safety. It’s nice to think that while we are protecting ourselves, we should think of offering help to those nearby and those we care about, too. Reaching out helps lower any anxiety people might be feeling.

And pizza and calzones are a nice last hurrah before facing the storm. Feel better and stay safe when you get back to work!!! Peace and blessings:)

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Laura Madden October 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Stay safe out there tomorrow, Betty! For now, rest and heal that back.

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betty ming liu October 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

The nap was great and my back is almost back — I’ll bet your good wishes were part of the energetic cure!

And yeah, Skye, I went for the gluten and dairy last night. Man, that stuff is addictive! But it was good to hang out with friends. People need to watch out for each other.

As for tomorrow, thanks, Laura. It’s nearly 4 p.m. now. The worst of the storm will hit the Westchester region where I live between 5-8 pm. I can see the wind going crazy outside my window, and two trees on the next block have been gradually falling all afternoon. One is almost down. You and everyone else, stay safe too. This is a 1,000-mile wide “perfect” frankenstorm. :0

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MJ & TJ October 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Betty,
I was looking at your water heater photo and noticed that it dosen’t have an earthquake strap. They recommend having an earthquake brace/strap on them. The reason this is they can fall over durring a quake. This will cause water to leak and/or rupture the gas line. The Ramapo Fault zone spans more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It is a system of faults between the northern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.
It is somehiting you should consider doing or having done.

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Toby October 30, 2012 at 6:53 am

Wow! Everyone on this blog was so prepared! Very impressive. Here in Trenton, the most unusual thing we experienced was French toast, which we made an excellent plate full of while watching CNN hype the catastrophe. I’m afraid we made no preparations beyond buying some bottled water and had no ill effects of the storm whatever – no power loss – no trees down – zip. It isn’t fair of course, that we should get off scott-free like this, having done nothing in the way of preparedness to justify our good fortune.It is clear proof of the Biblical adage that “the rain falls alike on the just and the unjust.” Oh well – whatareyougonnado? as we say in Jersey. Hope everyone else on this thread was as fortunate!

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Geek November 3, 2012 at 5:21 am

You’re an amazing person and a fantastic mom. Wow that’s a lot of work for one person to take care of in such a short amount of time. Gabi is so lucky to have you and it’s good she helped too. Stay safe and remember to take it easy, don’t strain your muscles further, because Gabi needs you.

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betty ming liu November 4, 2012 at 7:44 am

Thanks, Geek! I already managed to pull my shoulder from lugging around three laptops in running around to cover stories. (I use the extra laptops as batteries, for charging my iPhones. Always good to have backup on the road). But I will be careful. And thank you for the reminder about Gabi. To be honest, I have been stressed out and cranky. But now that it’s the weekend and I have two days off, time to to chill out and get grounded again.

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