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None of the people I know are taking this storm seriously. Well, there's one, but She's an ER-Doc so she understands what an emergency is. Still, there's only one person I know who's taking this at all seriously.
I've bullied a few people into buying water and food, but most of them have been completely resistant to the idea that they need to prepare at all. Most of them are just complaining about the subway right now. Some of them considering going to battery park DURING THE STORM to stand around in raincoats like idiots.
Don't do that. Yes, I admit that sounds awesome, and yes, I would think it was fun. But there's a problem with all of this.
Everyone in this entire city is leaving stuff on their fire escapes, on their balconies, and on their roofs. There is going to be stuff flying everywhere. It might even come through your windows. (Throw a mattress up against the window if that happens. That's what the tarp is for, by the way, keeping everything important dry when the storm tries to get inside your apartment.)
Hurricanes aren't dangerous because the wind is blowing. Hurricanes are dangerous because of what the wind is blowing, and if the balconies of new york are any indication, that will include several hundred bikes, grills, potted plants, patio/balcony furniture, bits of random wood, water bottles, and two or three wine towers. And that's just my neighborhood. Hell, that's just the building across the street.
Let me first establish that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to hurricanes. I'm from Florida. In 1992, my family lived in a house that was perched on a hill. It was in Riverview, Florida, near the Hillsborough river. I think that was the name. It was a massive thing, people would land ultralight aircraft on it. I remember that one of them crashed in my back yard.
My house was twenty feet above sea level on the top of that hill.
Riverview Florida is in central Florida, far north of Lake Okeechobee (that giant one in the middle of the state), and even farther north of Miami. It's on the gulf coast, the other side of the state.
Even there, the wind blew trees down onto houses, but the river was the problem. It overflowed its banks. I remember waking up the next morning and seeing that the river was now two inches from our back door, and was lapping at the foundations of our house.
Riverview Florida is a 300 mile drive from Homestead, Florida, where the eye of the storm passed, and which saw a ton of damage and a number of deaths, but even that far away, with hurricane Andrew, we had damage and terrifying levels of flooding.
My family was lucky.
Some of our friends were out of power for a few days, but because we're from Florida and we take storms seriously, everyone had water and food because they stocked up before hand.
For reference, this cute guy right here is Andrew:
And this monster is Sandy:
We were okay during that, and my family was okay when they went through Katrina, Rita, and Ivan in one year, because we prepare. We buy water and non-perishable food.
That's not what's happening here.
I just bought eight cartons of non-perishable Almond milk for a dollar each. They don't expire till next june.
There were no other dairy products in the store. People are buying food that has to be refrigerated. The vegetables are gone. The only thing that makes sense to be gone is bread. The cans? Still lining the shelves. The potatoes even are still there, but all the perishable vegetables and fruits are gone. The orange juice is gone, but the refrigeration-free V8 is still sitting on the shelves.
Most infuriatingly, the meat is all gone, except for the unrefrigerated summer sausage, which still sits in rows above an empty case which used to contain cold cuts and cheese, both of which are gone.
I overheard a conversation between a six year old and her father on the way back from my almond milk run:
"Well we got a lot of stuff, we have plenty of milk and some wonderful veggies, and stuff for hot and cold cereal, so we'll be fine."
"But daddy? What if the power goes out? Won't the fridge stop?"
"I... urm... your mother and I don't think that will happen."
"Sir, your six year old can see that your disaster plans are inadequate, and that grocery store is still full of cans that won't go bad. Go get some," I wish I had said. Not like New Yorkers are inclined to listen.
I have thirtysix litres of water, just over nine gallons. That's enough for a few days should there be a disaster. I'm taking a shower tonight, then bleaching the tub and filling it with water so that we can wash ourselves and flush the toilet if the power goes out and we lose water, electric, and gas. I have enough food to feed us out of cans for a week.
Oh, and if the power goes out, and you live in a high rise, the water pumps that feed you water will go out, so you won't have water, and might not have gas for the same reason (I'm less sure about how that system works, because gas doesn't weigh what liquid weighs.)
But guess what? Most of your stoves use electric starters, so unless you have matches, which also haven't sold out, you're boned anyway because your stove wont start.
"I don't really drink water anyway, so I'll be okay," is the response I've gotten. "If I die, I die," "I got beer and vodka instead. I'm good."
So to my New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania friends who aren't getting supplies and stocking up, and bringing your crap in off of the fire escapes you are idiots.
You're all idiots. And I hope to god that you're all laughing, breathing idiots at the end of this week, making fun of the only person you know who's lived through a major storm.
Because the learning curve in this scenario is a cliff.
If you are in New York, and you have still not purchased NON-PERISHIBLE food and drinks, go do it right the fuck now. Gristedes, Morton Williams, and Fairway are all still open for the next hour, and some of the Gristedes are 24 hour locations, so they'll be open all night. Subway is down, so walk or take a taxi.
Water is ideal, but anything will do at this point. You want at minimum one gallon, per person, per day, for three days. No, booze does not count.
Do it now.
I have been through this.
This is not a joke.
Yes, it's only a category one for now, but we live on a collection of Islands, and I've felt sustained 35 mile an hour winds on a normal day through these concrete wind tunnels that the city naturally creates. The wind is going to get ridiculous. For gods sake stay inside, because all that crap that everyone has left on their roofs and fire escapes is going to blow around and smash through everyone's windows. So masking tape those bad boys up and stay away from them. A few Xs on them will work to help keep glass from flying if they break. If they do break, put a mattress against them.
Yet half of my New York friends have posted this stupid image to facebook:
God I hope you're all alive and making fun of me in three days.
9:17 PM PT: Also: Fill your pots and pans with water, and leave it on the counter. That guarantees a significant supply.
Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 12:13 AM PT: (Attempted update some hours ago, didn't go through for some reason.)
I feel a lot better thanks to the "I'm prepared, and so's my neighborhood" people have posted below. It's probably just my idiot 20-something friends, and my hope is that there are responsible neighbors who'll be able to bail these folks out. I got some extra water bottles myself for some of them, just in case.
Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM PT: Good noon everyone.
So sandy isn't quite here yet, but we're already feeling the effects. I'm going to start a New York liveblog shortly, as soon as I take care of some final preparations. We've all had last showers, and the tub is bleached and full of water.
New York is already seeing major power outages in queens and brooklyn. Rosedale Queens and east Flatbush, Brooklyn, are seeing outages already.
To prepare for the flooding, they've closed most of FDR drive.
The wind is already starting to pick up now, up here on the 6th floor. It's buffeting around my wall AC. That's going to get annoying, quick.
Our cellphones are charged, as is my secondary laptop battery. I'm ready. Hopefully I'll be chatting with you guys all day. I'm going to run and make a few last-minute preparations before starting up a live blog.