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Discussion Starter #1
As some of you know, the Puget Sound Region (Seattle, et al) suffered a devastating windstorm last Thursday night. The highest wind gusts recorded ranged from 66 mph up to 88 mph (over on the coast). Two inches of rain fell in one hour. Many trees came down. Four people died during the storm (from homes or vehicles being struck by falling trees). The Seattle Times published a photo of a house with ten trees fallen on/into it.

At the height of the storm, over 1.5 million households were without power.

There are still 120,000 households without power this morning, five-and-a-half days later.

(We, BTW, are just fine. No damage, and our power was only out for 15 hours.)

Due to my fascination with disaster preparedness, I've been observing the aftermath closely. Here, in no particular order, are the key points.

Hundreds of people have been hospitalized for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and 6 or 7 have died. Many of them are immigrants with poor English speaking/reading skills. ALL were using an inappropriate heating source indoors. Some were burning charcoal inside for warmth. One family was running a generator in the garage, with the garage door open. The mother, father and two of the sons are dead. A third son is in critical condition. The fourth son, lives at college.

There have been several house fires. One occured when an electric stove burner was inadvertently turned on during the power outage. When the power was restored, no one was home and items on/near that burner started the fire.

On Friday & Saturday, the first two days after the storm, grocery stores were out of certain items. In some cases, supplies had been purchased by earlier shoppers. In other cases, the store lacked refrigeration and had to discard perishables. Items in short supply were milk, produce, meat, and seafood.

Other items in short supply were candles, propane cook stoves, and generators.

Store were also without power. An employee walked each customer thru the store to select their items. Payment was by cash only.

On Friday, I drove thru my suburban business district. Every single restaurant had a full parking lot. The drive-thru line at fast food restaurants extended out onto the street.

Gasoline is in short supply, and prices have increased. Even today, there are stations with no gas. Because of the wide-spread power outages, there were many stations with gasoline, but no electricity to get that gas into a customer's car or gas cans. Consequently, people drove long distances (10-25 miles) to stations with power. Those stations then quickly ran out of gas. Several people commented that they hadn't seen gas lines like this since the Carter administration (1976 for you young-uns). I wonder if some of the gas shortage is also due to so much generator use.

The hotels with power are booked - not so much the first night or two, but after 2 - 3 day without power, folks reached the limit of their ability to cope and sought rooms with heat and power.

Puget Sound air quality was 'dangerous for sensitive groups' (like people with asthma) for several days, due to a combination of dry, still weather (rather than windy & rainy) and so much woodstove/fireplace use.

- - - - - - -

This really was only a minor event, but the cascade of after-events has been interesting to observe. Please read each and learn from it. Think about how you could better ride out such a storm.

Here are some of my key preparations:

We have a propane heater that is rated FOR indoor use (from Mr. Heater). We also have a CO detector just for when we use that heater. I keep the detector and a set of batteries in the box with the heater.

Our smoke detectors are battery operated. We NEVER leave a lit candle or lamp without adult supervision.

I have a good pantry stockpile of food. I also have at least three days of food that can be eaten without any cooking or preparation. Sure, some things would taste better if warmed on my camp stove (used OUTSIDE), but they could be eaten cold.

We keep our camping stuff, such as candles, lanterns, and propane cookstove, for use in a power outage.

We also keep cash in our house safe for use in this sort of event.

We keep our gas tanks at a half-tank or more. We also have a couple of full gas cans stored. If you store gas, it should be rotated frequently.

I make sure we have plenty of asthma medicine on hand (for both me and one daughter).

Hope this helps somebody.
 

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Valerie very will written.

I live in the Columbia River Gorge. This area ALWAYS, EVERY winter has power outages. We have been without power for 7 to 8 days most winters. (Been here 26 years) But there is a consistent group of residents that do not prepare. I guess my family just likes to eat and keep warm so we are prepared to hunker down for a couple of weeks if necessary.

Everyone should have a 72 hr kit ready and waiting. Basic Camping gear is a plus.

All that said, lets hope the forcasted freezing rain passes us by today.
 

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Very well said and written Valerie! :thumb:

My sister is one of the ones still without power and they are saying she won't have it back until after Christmas. She packed up her girls (kitties) and is staying with a friend now that does have power.

What I noticed when speaking to her the other day, and mind you this is just MY opinion, is that the Seattle area is made up of primarily professional type people, my sis included. Okay so maybe this is just her peer group I am speaking about. But they tend to go out to eat almost exclusively, hop in the car anytime they want etc... They are so unprepared for something like this happening. The friend she is staying with, while has power now, did loose it for a few hours the other day, she lasted 2 hours before she hopped in her car and went in search of people and noise. LOL

Now my sis knows better, but she just recently moved into a new home and didn't get a propane tank for her grill, has no kerosene for her camp stove etc.. She does have a small gas operated fireplace, which is what she used to keep her and the cats warm for 4 days, but when they said no power till after Christmas, she caved in and went to her friends. ;) Oh and she wanted a gas stove as opposed to an electric, which she has now, but hadn't gotten around to ordering one yet. Yep you guessed it, first thing when things return to normal there, she is ordering a gas stove. :D
 

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Very good points Valerie!

We just had 2+ weeks of power outages here from an ice storm. My family was fine as we were prepared (as were most of our neighbors) One neighbor's generator quit in the midst of things and he couldn't get water to his livestock-- so we had a modern cattle drive, over 13 miles to his brother's -- where they had power.

We had propane kitchen range, propane grill (outdoors , but in a covered porch -- open on 2 sides) shake flashlights, oil lamps, lots of blankets, quick and easy to fix foods, books to read, craft projects to do, etc. We had our cars full of gas and we have cell phone chargers for the car, and we have an inverter for the car -- so we could recharge our radio batteries (we have one hand crank one, but the battery one works better) and we could watch TV on the small portable TV for a little while each day.

I was amazed at how many people had no phone service when the power was out--- they all had cordless phones, or cell phones that quickly ran down. We also have an old fashioned corded phone for just these instances.
 

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We as people of a new generation do not understand the complexities of living wthout electricity. Therefore we tend to live with our heads in the clouds and think that it could never happen that we might have to go back to a lifestyle completely foreign to us. I can't ever remember a time when I have ever had to live without electricity for more than a few hours. A storm that would knock out power to the area for almost a week seems unbelieveable to me, yet that is exactly what happened here. It has given me a new respect for what the people in New Orleans have had to go through with Katrina and we sampled just a taste of what they had to deal with. So, yes, I will make sure that I am better prepared should something like this happen again. The way that this winter is going, that could be next week!
 

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Hi Valerie

I was wondering how you were! We are fine too. You made some excellent points! I am definately going to keep cash on hand and keep my tank half full from now on. Otherwise, we are pretty prepared. We also, have a self contained camping trailer we could move into (heat, stove, bathroom etc), if we needed to. And sufficient food on hand at all times.
 

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great thread. Living here we have learned what living without electricity is all about. Luckily here, the water system is on a different electric grid than the normal elec. so even when we don't have elec. we still have water. Also, we have a elec/gas stove. 3 burners are gas and 1 burner is elec. just in case either system is shut down then we can use the other source to cook. We also have a couple weeks worth of food just in case. (one thing we are lacking in is bottled water, we get a new 5 liter bottle every week, but we *should* have more on hand). We have one elec. space heater and our household heater is gas & doesn't require elec. to run. We also have a fireplace in the living room.

We went without power for 3 days at the beginning of the month and thankfully Dh had just bought a bunch of wood so we used the fireplace and the gas heater to keep warm. I know that's not a long time compared to most people in an "emergency", but it prepared us for the rolling blackouts that we will experience for the rest of the winter. Our situation is quite a bit different though, in that if there is a major emergency here then we go the Embassy and they will evaquate us if neccesary. So we keep gas in the car so that we can drive somewhere if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This morning's news showed video from a shelter set up in an outlying area that is still without power. A man was holding his daughter, who appeared to be about three years old, and said (regarding going to the shelter), "The refrigerator is empty; what else could we do?"

Uhhh.... make a plan for next time?

It really saddens me that some people are sooooo unprepared. I realized that preparations and stockpiling cost money. But honestly, a few cans of fruit, vegetables and spaghetti-o's (or chili or beef stew) don't cost that much. Milk and other perishables could be kept outdoors (our highs are around 42, not ideal, but close enough).

I guess what really bothers me is that this man didn't seem to see any alternative. There are always alternatives. Sometimes going to a shelter is the best one, but there are alternatives.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hollyhill, glad you all are okay. :hugz:
 

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Great Post Here,
thanks so much for taking the time to give us the report,
it's something I'm going to study to see where I can make improvements
in preparedness myself!
 

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very good post - thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think the message got through to some people in the area. Two days ago (two weeks after the storm) I was at Walmart. I observed the same woman asking questions about a power inverter (converts your car battery into something that a household appliance-like a lamp-can be plugged into), types of propane gas (they're all the same, pick the cheap brand), and the availability of discounts on propane purchased by the case.
 

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Valerie,
I didn't see this when originally posted, but I'm very glad I've found it now. Thank you so much for posting this! Very well-written and informative.
 
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