Submitted November 4, 2008

Electric went out within minutes after the hurricane hit

Hi Tom -

My name is Nick and I live in Hollywood, FL, just north of Miami, and I was affected by last year's hurricane season. Lucky for me no serious damage to where I live (i.e. roof damage or windows blown out etc) but had to deal with the following.

Electric went out within minutes after the hurricane hit (I live about a mile from the ocean). Now, that may not sound like a big deal but the worst part of a lot of disasters are after the storm.  Not only was my apartment building without power but so were businesses and most importantly gas stations.

A lot of us were caught short on gas and I for one ran out. Only a few gas stations had backup generators and they too were short on gas.  You see, it is a domino affect.  The gas is on ships that come into Port Everglades, by Fort Lauderdale, but those ships had to divert due to the hurricane.  The ports here were closed. When the ports were opened they too had to deal with no power.  No power means they could not pump the gas from the ships. Also, what gas was in the tanks at the pier could not be pumped into the tanker trucks.

Most of us waited in long lines even pushing each others cars as the line progressed.  What added to the frustration was since there was no power, there were no street lights nor traffic lights and the police had a curfew on the city closing any business that was open from 7pm to 7am.  So even if the gas station had a generator, once the curfew hit they were closed by order of the police.

What food stores were open, for they had a generator, had limited supplies.  No deliveries due to trucks not having gas to make deliveries.  There was no food available that required being frozen or refrigerated.  Granted the food stores have insurance for times like this to be compensated for their loss but, they had to pull all the meats etc from the shelves.

Your only means of tender was cash since no banks were open, communications via charge cards was down and of course no ATM's working.

Since I know this is an hurricane area I had the following:

- One case of MRE's, 12 meal packs with two meals in each pack so if need be I can ration that out for almost a month
- Enough MRE heaters for all the meals (24 in this case)
- Canned goods to supplement the MRE's
- Bread / rolls in air tight containers
- Flashlight, batteries. I already had large candles that normally are for decoration but used in emergency
- A lot of water

This is what I have done during threats of impending hurricanes.  All the above and plus the following:

- When the news reports a hurricane is getting closer and looks like it will hit us in say 3 days or so I fill my gas tank up and keep it full as the hurricane gets closer.
- I have a 5 gal gas can so if need by can wait in a line to get gas.  Last year you could not get a gas can due to shortage
- I keep 6 one liter bottles of water in my freezer and they serve 2 purposes. 1) Even though I have a cooler, my freezer can double as one and the bottles of ice are used to keep things cold. 2) If no power for extended period and the ice in the bottles melt well I have another 6 liters of water.
- Hand crank radio
- Make sure I withdraw enough cash to last until power returns and things start to get back to normal.  By the way, I was without power for about 10 - 11 days.
- When I know a hurricane is coming our way I do not stock up on perishable items for if you lose power you will be throwing a lot out, as did a lot of people.
- Have a small grill to use after the storm what ever meat I do have might as well cook it and eat that before I have to throw it out.

Now, since I live in an apartment on the 2nd floor with no balcony, buying a generator is out of the question for me.  Even if I ran an extension cord out the window and had the generator on the ground outside it would more and likely get stolen. There was a lot of that going on.

One last tip I learned and this is if you were not going to ride out the storm and evacuate.  Prior to leaving, put a cup of water in your freezer and let it freeze solid. Then when you leave put a penny on the frozen cup of ice. When you return if the penny in now on the bottom but the water is frozen what happened was you lost power long enough to melt the ice.  Power may have come back on before you got home but your food, meat, already thawed and refroze again so you do not want to use it.

Well that's about it as far as urban survival due to a hurricane.  Granted, I have done my share of camping and backpacking both in summer and in winter and have had my share of mishaps but like anything you plan the best you can and keep your head about things and the right attitude one can get through a lot.

Nick Repollo

A Note from Survival Authority, Tom Sciacca of CampingSurvival.com:

This is one of my favorite stories on our site. It is jam packed with info and would be a good story to tell others about if your concerned about their lack of preparedness and want to give them some good ideas. One little tip to think about. The next time there is a power outage in your areas, if it's safe, drive to all the gas stations you know of. Make a note of any gas stations that are running on generator power. Or if you're up for it, ask them next time you're there. In our town, there is one. For a normal power outage, this is no big deal, but this little bit of knowledge can come in real handy. Of course never let your gas tank get below half.

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