There is a good chance that Seattle and its surrounding area will get hit with a massive windstorm this weekend, the kind we have not seen in decades. Naturally, people are starting to get worried, running for the grocery stores, buying up food and water, in case the electricity goes down or worse. Would any of it actually help, or are we just kidding ourselves?
I went to the grocery store too, with no plan but rather just a goal to buy enough "stuff" that if the weather is real crap over the weekend, then I wouldn't have to leave the house to buy more. As I was browsing, it hit me just how unprepared for any sort of disaster we are in 2016, probably as a nation, or maybe even the world.
if you live in the Pacific North West?
Let's assume the power goes out for a couple of days. Heating, cooking, running water - at the very minimum, if there is no power, those three things will get interrupted.
You'd need to plan to have a shelter and to stay warm and to stock up on camping supplies, water and non-pershable food to be able to cook and drink, forget flushing toilets for a minute. All-in-all, if the storm isn't too bad and you and your family are healthy, a couple of days will go by without any major challenges. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and things will come back to normal.
In the US, near a major city at least, we live in a world where if something bad happens, we naturally assume that someone's going to come rescue us, and if that's the case, then stocking up on beans and water to outlast a tiny storm isn't necessary. Conversely, if a natural disaster was to strike, it wouldn't help a great deal either.
If the supply chain of food is interrupted and running water is contaminated, it would take a lot longer than two days to get it all back to normal. All of a sudden we'd rely on air-dropped bottled water, have to pee in the yard, cook over fire, and in general go back in time quite a bit, in terms of day-to-day operations.
I am sure a lot could be learned by reading the stories of people who went through Hurricane Katrina and alike, and planning ahead for the worst case scenario, including stockpiling gas and propane and food and water. But how many people do? I can honestly say that I haven't, have you?
It's a humbling thought to know that if something really bad were to happen, we are totally screwed for a while.
p.s. Props to my running buddy Matt for alerting me to this storm ☂.