We’ve looked at how we prepared before the ice storm and how we lived during the ice storm, but now lets look at how our plans stood up to the disaster. Honestly, I think we did pretty good. We had plenty of the basics, food, fuel, heat, water and medication.
We had good external communications. Our corded phone worked great when the power failed and prevented the cordless phones from operating. The battery system from the portable station allowed us to power the cellular mini-repeater so we could access mobile networks, and we were able to power the DSL modem and wifi router once the telephone system came back online as well. We also were able to communicate with the local Amateur Radio Emergency Services net with our radios.
So what didn’t work? We lost some product in the refrigerator, could have prevented that with another cooler on the back porch. We also ran out of fuel for the camp stove on the forth day. In the future we will modify up our planning to have ten canisters of propane, I figure that will be enough fuel for five days of cooking. We had plenty of charcoal so I used the that to boil water and to cook until the power came back online.
We also missed one of the neighbors. We didn’t know the house was occupied, so we didn’t bother to check. If we had simply knocked on their door we would have been able to offer heat and warm food that they were sorely lacking. We all felt really bad about that and I’m hopeful that our little coalition of neighbors will continue to keep in touch with each other to prevent this kind of oversight next time.
Lastly the worst failure of the entire disaster wasn’t something we could have foreseen. The county and the city EMA’s did a horrible job. Not a single official checked on our street. If they had, the power company wouldn’t have forgotten us! Not a single official came to our area to let anyone know about the shelter and warming stations the county opened. If they had, our neighbor could have had a hot meal and warm place to sleep! This is extremely frustrating for me as I sat on those county preparedness boards, I helped to write those disaster plans, I know that part of the response is a door-to-door assessment and I know this did not happen.
So what do we do now? We modify our plans. Add more stove fuel, add a door-to-door assessment for our neighbors, and express our concerns to the city and county EMA’s with the hope that next time we won’t run into these issues.
~Geof “ready for next time” Franklin.