What You Can Do To Get Ready
So here we go…again. Everyone who remembers Snowpocalypse, and then Snowmageddon, knows what havoc a bad storm can do to our neighborhood. And for those who weren’t around in 2003, Hurricane Isabel brought nearly as much headache in mid-September, pelting the District with big gusts and soaking rain.
No one can really say right now what Hurricane/Frankenstorm Sandy (should a hurricane really be named “Sandy”?) might mean for the District, so there’s no use worrying. But there’s plenty of good that can come from preparing, so we’re sharing a few ideas right now:
- Gutters: Our street gutters are often clogged, or worse, with a lot of crud. Newspapers, burger wrappers, plastic this and glass that…but it all slows run-off from getting to the storm drains. We’re likely to have it bad enough: urban flooding can happen remarkably quickly. Just ask the guy who spent a day bagging sandbags for Isabel, and was glad he did. What you can do: take some time Saturday, as we will, and just bag up all the junk in your street gutters. It’s nasty, and you’ll want gloves, but you’ll be glad you did. Water that flows into the drains won’t flow into your house or condo. We’ll be out tomorrow morning – I recommend everyone do the same.
- Yards: Who really knows, but the brainiacs at the National Weather Service are forecasting prolonged high winds. That means lots of shit is going to be flying all over the place. Trust us: Isabel was a wimp, tropically speaking, the time she rolled over DC – but she still made doors vibrate, furniture fly and all sorts of nastiness in the night. What you can do: Take time Saturday to store anything remotely mobile outside. Garbage bins, furniture, toys, and yes, even garbage: it’s all likely to fly just about everywhere, and that will only make things worse.
- Inside Prep: OK, you’ve heard enough from Janet Napolitano to know that you should have a few days supply of water and food if things get nasty. That isn’t frozen pizzas, either, as if your power goes out everything in your fridge will suddenly become very smelly. What you can do: It’s not a big deal. Have maybe up to 10 gallons of water on hand – it’s really not that much – just in case the water/sewer system goes kerflooey. Have food you can eat with minimal cooking: if it can be done without a microwave, that’s a great start.
- Neighbors: Every street has some neighbors who are at higher risk. Maybe they’re older, or sick, or just not very engaged. Doesn’t really matter: you should think about what you all can do to help your street-mates if things go bad. Say someone’s roof blows off, or 10 houses in a row are flooded: is everyone taken care of What you can do: Gosh this is pretty easy. You know who your vulnerable neighbors are. Knock on their door, talk to them about the storm, and learn about what they may need in the coming days. It’s not a big lift.
- Communications: During the two snow storms we were fairly lucky: we never lost power or cable/Internet access. The same may not be so for any of us next week. Ugh yes, you’ve heard it, but for Heaven’s sake, have a battery or crank radio. Charge, super-charge, your cell phones. Think about how you keep warm for two or three days without power. What you can do: Like we said: get a radio. If you’re counting on electricity or cable connection, don’t. Plan for what happens if it goes out.
Tomorrow we’ll be ambling on the roof checking gutters (I do NOT recommend this!) and cutting some water runoff lines in the back yard to prevent flooding. And cleaning gutters, and just knocking on a few doors. I recommend you do the same. Chances are it will all be just a big nothing…but the whiz-kids at NOAA disagree.
Like we always say: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Good luck, U Street!