Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer Storm and preparedness

We survived the Summer Storm of 2015. It was no "Great Storm" or "Storm of the Century" or "Zombie Apocalypse", but it was unexpected.

I admit that even though it was predicted that we'd get an "entire summer's worth of rain" (that was the Vancouver Sun's headline, mentioning how we were to get 80-140mm of rain between Friday and Monday. I can't find the article online anymore though.) I had mixed feelings. A part of me was pessimistic. After all, we've had so little fall this summer, that the idea of a huge dump sounded dubious. I also felt torn between being annoyed (I was planning a yard sale this weekend!) and being relieved. (yay, rain!) But we did get the rain. It fell all Friday early morning, so I cancelled our sale (no one wants to walk through squishy grass) and was happy to wake up to pouring rain on Saturday. I don't know how much fell, but the campfire ban was lifted for Metro Vancouver. Woohoo! We could roast weinies and marshmallows---if it weren't so wet outside!

What no one was expecting was the wind. And it was crazy windy! With gusts up to 80 km/h. Leaves were blowing around the yard and the kids had fun running outside in them, but I felt uneasy. I love a good thunderstorm and I like rain, but wind I could do without.

Our power went out at noon, which wasn't a huge deal. We "rough it" when we go camping, so this wasn't anything worrisome. That is, until I heard how large of an area was effected. I couldn't believe how many people had no power! BC Hydro wasn't anticipating it to be back up until the next day at noon, but I imagine they like to over-estimate, just in case. The problem is that I like to blow things out of proportion, you know, just in case! In my mind, I was picturing three days.

 We have a generator, but it needed gas, so Hunny and I set out on a journey. And that was an eye opener. The power-outtages covered a larger area than it stated on BC Hydro's webpage. (which kept crashing anyways) Plus there were so many branches and trees knocked down across the roads. I think that every business we drove past was closed due to no power! We got hopeful when we saw a Chevron gas station that was busy, but were disappointed (along with many others) to realize that even though the pumps still appeared to be on, they would not work without power either. It was a crazy trip. In the end, we found gas from our neighbour, so the trip could've been so much shorter and faster if we had stayed! (We are so blessed to have some awesome neighbour friends)

My emergency-end-of-the-world-preparedness thinking went a bit overboard though. I started to think of how long would it be to restore power to everyone we saw. And I considered that there were no grocery stores or gas stations open, and no one could take money out of a bank machine without power, add in that people's cell phones and internet connections would eventually lose battery power--- it would be chaos! How long before that happened? That people started to panic? It's a good thing that my Hunny could be a survivalist (he's never been dropped into the wilderness with a cameraman, but he'd know what to do if he was)   He made up a huge batch of chilli on our campstove and slow cooker, while the kids watched a movie (generator FTW), which he shared with our neighbours. (When the power goes out, you can usually order dinner from somewhere close by, but it was out everywhere, so many people were stuck)

We spent our evening hanging out with our other neighbours in their carport, roasting marshmallows over their propane firepit, and listening to music by their generator, and watching it pour. It was a fun way to spend a summer night. The kids snuggled up on the couches to sleep since it's less scary in the dark when you have others around you.

Our power returned at 3:30am, but I hardly noticed. (I woke up briefly and heard our fan was on, but didn't even think of it) It was an interesting 15 hours. (there are still so many without power though. But at least there are options to eat out or visit friends with power. But not having hot water and possibly losing food in your fridge and freezer suck.)

We did really well, but it wasn't a challenging 15 hours. We had some branches break off a tree in our back yard and land on the neighbour's trampoline (thankfully it wasn't damaged and no one was hurt) and our pool overflowed and collapsed overnight due to rain (it looks so pathetic right now! There goes the end of our summer pool) and we had the fastest take down of our gazebo due to it blowing around in the yard, but it really wasn't too bad. Partially due to our camping skills, but mostly due to how short it lasted. Our power returned and the wind died down the next day. But it really has me thinking about our emergency preparedness. How ready are we if the Big One happens? (there were two small earthquakes in Abbotsford and Mission this past week) or for the Zombie Apocalypse? (which I actually don't believe in, but it's fun to say) We'll need to have gas stored, as well as water, and emergency cash. Plus we'll need to buy a new can opener; ours really wasn't up to the challenge of opening a can of beans yesterday. (so disappointing and so frustrating) A generator sure is nice. Maybe we should start putting things aside for if that day comes, or in case we're stuck with another storm this year.

 A good book to read is How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it. by James Wesley, Rawles. (of course my Hunny has it) It has many good survival skill long as you don't get your mind too panicked. (I can get pretty imaginative!)

I'd love to hear your tips of how to survive a power failure. What do you do if you have young kids? What if it's longer than a day? Are you prepared for a natural disaster? Please share in the comments!


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