Stories From Ike- Lessons Learned

In memory of Hurricane Ike, I’m taking a trip down memory lane this week and sharing some personal stories and lessons learned of what it was like to be a part of that storm. Hopefully what I learned and went through can give some of you a better idea for how to prepare for your own emergency situations. I hope you enjoy this week! πŸ˜€

In wrapping up this week, I thought I’d share a post from my personal blog after all was said and done…

September 22, 2008 {Lessons Learned}


Today we are resuming “life as normal”… more or less. Jim has gone back to work and everything is pretty much the way it was before Hurricane Ike ever hit (for our own little family, anyway). But I wanted to take a second to write down some of the lessons we learned from this disaster in hopes it can help someone else be prepared should something similar come your way. The nice thing about a hurricane is that you have plenty of advance warning. But not all of life’s disasters are so well announced. So, here are some of the Β tips are tricks that helped us make it through:

#1. Have a way to keep things cool! For us it was a generator to keep our fridge/freezer and deep freeze running (which meant we also needed to have extra gas stored to keep the generator running… and you should also keep some extra gas for your car), but you can also use ice in coolers, etc. A trick our neighbor taught us was to freeze water in 2-liter soda bottles and when you stick those in a bag of ice it makes the ice last a lot longer. (And if you use drinking water in the soda bottle, you can drink it when it melts.) So if you know a disaster is coming, start making lots of ice (or get a generator and then you can make ice for other people instead). πŸ™‚ (side note on this: there were a lot of distribution points offering ice, etc. but people had to wait in lines for generally a minimum of 2 hours in order to get it, so it’s nice to save yourself the hassle!)
#2. Have extra water available (and not just drinking water). We were fortunate that we never lost water and that our city’s water stayed unpolluted. But in case it didn’t, we had our drinking water supply* ready and for non-drinking water we had cleaned out one of the bathtubs the night before and filled it with water. We also have a 5-gallon water cooler and an ice chest that we filled, and over the past year or so, we’ve been filling some of the more sturdy plastic bottles we’ve used (like the kind apple juice comes in) with just regular tap water (and we marked them as being tap water so we know it’s not drinking water). You would be surprised at how often you use water for non-drinking purposes (like to wash your dishes, your face, your hands, brush your teeth, etc.). A lot of cities ended up with polluted water or no water at all, so it’s important to have that supply ready.
#3. Have a way to cook without electricity. We were again fortunate that all we lost was electricity (not water or gas). And again fortunate that we have a gas stove. So we didn’t lose our ability to cook (although we did not have the oven or microwave). But if you’ve got an electric stove with no electricity, you’re out of luck. So you need another alternative. Camping stoves are great, grills (if it’s a gas grill, make sure your propane tank is full and/or you’ve got extra tanks), etc.
#4. Have a stash of cash available at all times. When gas stations started coming back online, they could pump gas, but credit card machines wouldn’t work. So you could only get gas if you had cash (and of course ATM machines didn’t work either). We only found this out after waiting for 2 hours in line, but fortunately we keep an emergency stash of cash in several locations. We have a 72-hour kit in each of our cars that each has $100 in it, and then another $100 in our 72-hour kit at the house. So fortunately we were not stuck without any cash when we got up to the pumps. Also, make sure your “stash” is in smaller bills (nothing bigger than a $20) because a lot of people either won’t take larger than that or won’t have change to give you back.
#5. Battery or hand operated items are great! (It just means you have to make sure you have a LOT of extra batteries). There are a lot of camping items, etc that run on batteries or can be hand cranked. These can be lifesavers. Although camping equipment that runs on propane gas is great for camping, a lot of those things cannot be used in your house because they put out carbon monoxide or other harmful gases. We discovered this when we had hoped to use our propane camping lantern for a light source at night. That’s a no-go in the house! Luckily, I happened to also have a Coleman lantern that runs on batteries and Jim had a bright light in his tool set that runs on the same battery as his tools. I also have a battery operated camping fan that definitely came in handy when we were letting the generator have a break (and therefore couldn’t use our fans that were plugged into it). There are a lot of cool things that run on batteries… so check ’em out and then stock up on batteries.
#6. Have a way to get the news. This will usually be a battery (or hand) operated radio (although we were able to hook our tv up to the generator and just watch the news… did I mention that I LOVE our generator??!) But the news will keep you posted on if there are things you need to be doing, if your water is safe to drink, where you can find essential items being distributed, etc.
#7. Have a source of light for night. I already mentioned that we had some good lights, we also had flashlights, but you don’t want to keep those running all the time because then you’ll REALLY go through batteries quickly. So obviously candles are a good choice. Oil lamps are also great (I don’t have any, but know they work well) and just make sure you’ve got oil for the lamps (a scripture story is coming to mind here…) πŸ™‚ But a tip about candles, we found that the candles that are in glass votives put out a lot more light than a candle that is just set on a plate. You could probably even just put the candles in mason jars to make them shine brighter. If you have baby food jars, you could also keep a stash of those (empty and clean, of course) and then get a big bag of those tea-light candles (they’re really inexpensive, but you can go through them pretty fast, so it’s good to have a lot), and then just put the little lights in the baby food jars all over the place and you’ve got some decent light.
#8. Finally, make sure all this stuff is in a location you know about. Try to keep emergency supplies together so you don’t have to go hunting for them when you’re in the middle of a disaster. And make sure everyone is aware of your emergency plan, etc.
So anyway, that’s about it. I hope this helps somebody someday. We’re not experts on preparedness, but having just been through some crazy times, it was nice to be on the more prepared end of things to save ourselves some of the stress and insanity so many others have had to go through. (Plus it helps to put you in a position to be able to help others if needed.)
*P.S. A tip I was going to share about our water storage… we just recently switched our water supply/storage plan to be a little more functional. Initially for water storage, we had purchased several of those big 5-gallon jugs of water (like the kind you get delivered to your house… but we just bought them at the grocery store) and we just had them sitting in storage. But then we realized we needed a way to actually use that water. So we’ve stopped buying the expensive filters for our fridge (which has a water dispenser) and bought a standing water dispenser. Now we can keep a year’s supply of water in those big jugs but circulate through it instead of just letting it sit and go bad.
Oh, and another tip I just remembered about generators… if you’re thinking about investing in one, my dad pointed out that there are some they’ve come out with that run on diesel fuel and are quieter. Well, the quiet part would sure be nice (those suckers can be loud), BUT for as difficult as it was to get gas after the hurricane, it was nearly impossible to find diesel fuel. I don’t know if that’s something that would always be the case, but it’s something to keep in mind.
{Back to the Future – 2010}
I hope this week has been helpful for someone… anyone… in providing a little insight into what it may be like in a small emergency situation. Best wishes and happy prepping!!

Stories From Ike- More Memories

In memory of Hurricane Ike, I’m taking a trip down memory lane this week and sharing some personal stories and lessons learned of what it was like to be a part of that storm. Hopefully what I learned and went through can give some of you a better idea for how to prepare for your own emergency situations. I hope you enjoy this week! πŸ˜€

Here’s more from my personal blog…

{September 19, 2008} “Let There Be Light”
We have our electricity back!!! WAHOO!!!! We got power back at around 6pm last night and I tell ya what… you have never seen a pregnant lady jump and shout so much. πŸ™‚ The novelty of turning on a light switch has still not worn off. I get giddy each time I hear the AC unit kick on. I smile with delight when I look at the microwave and know that I can heat Dixie’s milk up in 30 seconds instead of having to wait 5 minutes for it on the stove, or when I load up the dishwasher with dirty dishes to be washed instead of with clean dishes that I just washed and are just needing a place to dry. I used my blow dryer and curling iron this morning for the first time in a week. *sigh* I have never had a greater appreciation for Benjamin Franklin than at this moment. πŸ™‚ I just feel profoundly more grateful for how blessed we are in this country. We truly do not know how great we have it. This past week wasn’t as rough for Jim because he’s pretty much ‘been there done that’. He said it was like being back in the mission. He served in Panama and there were times when he really had to do without. And I tell ya what, this boy knows how to make do! He was the one that was scrubbing our clothes in the bathtub and hanging them out to dry when we were running low (not that I couldn’t have figured it out, but he already knew how and was right on top of it). He was such a blessing to me (and to so many others) through this time.

Stories From Ike- What In The World Is For Dinner?!

In memory of Hurricane Ike, I’m taking a trip down memory lane this week and sharing some personal stories and lessons learned of what it was like to be a part of that storm. Hopefully what I learned and went through can give some of you a better idea for how to prepare for your own emergency situations. I hope you enjoy this week! πŸ˜€

Cooking in the wake of Hurricane Ike was a bit interesting. We were very fortunate in that we have a gas stove and did not lose connection with our gas. So we still had our stove to cook on. But even at that, without electricity, this was a whole new ballgame. It was funny how many times I would think of something to make for dinner, only to have my plans foiled because I needed the oven or something. (This was prior to my knowledge of the apple box oven, of course.) Without wanting to sound like a complainer… trying to come up with some ‘put-together-meal’ got old real fast. Don’t get me wrong, I did recognize my blessings at even having the option to cook on a stove and I was very grateful. But it has become very clear to me the importance of being able to continue a ‘normal’ food routine in the event of an emergency. If I was getting tired of trying to think up strictly stovetop meals within a matter of a few days, I can only imagine how frustrating life would become in the event of a BIG emergency if I were to not have access to a way to cook my ‘normal’ foods for a LONG period of time. So there’s a plug for the apple box oven, or a solar oven, or any other cooking method that brings you a bit of normalcy. Do your planning now to save yourself some heartache later!

And on that note… here’s one of the strictly stovetop meals we enjoyed in the week following Ike.

Chicken Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 – 1 lb penne pasta (there likely won’t be enough sauce to cover 1 lb, unless you thin it out with milk or something)
  • 1 jar Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo sauce (I like the Classico brand for this)
  • 1 pint canned chicken (or about 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • McCormick’s Grilled Chicken seasoning
  • Optional Veggie

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, cook your pasta according to package directions till al dente. (I like to sprinkle some Kosher salt in the water prior to adding the pasta. This way it flavors the actual pasta.)
  2. Drain and rinse your canned chicken (skip this step if using frozen chicken)
  3. In a large saucepan, heat your oil and then add your canned chicken. Sprinkle on enough grilled chicken seasoning to your liking (about 1 Tbsp) and lightly sautΓ© the chicken (this helps get rid of the ‘canned’ taste and smell). (If using frozen chicken, cube the chicken and then saute it in the oil with the seasoning until cooked through.)
  4. Add the sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce to the chicken and simmer over medium heat until the sauce is heated through.
  5. Place the penne pasta in your serving dish and ladle the chicken alfredo mixture over the top. OR, if you don’t want to dirty up another dish, just pour the pasta into the saucepan with the chicken and mix it all together. πŸ™‚ Serve and enjoy!
  6. Serves a family of 4 quite nicely.
  7. Optional variation: Don’t forget the veggies! You can also try adding a vegetable to the dish if you’d like… canned green beans, frozen peas, whatever floats your fancy… or just add a good vegetable as a side dish. In the picture above, I used green bell peppers from the garden because my cute little girls decided to pick every last one off our plants… so we’re trying to use them up. πŸ™‚ I sauteed them in the pan with the chicken and it actually added great flavor. We’ll have to do that more often!

Stories From Ike- Like A Good Neighbor…

In memory of Hurricane Ike, I’m taking a trip down memory lane this week and sharing some personal stories and lessons learned of what it was like to be a part of that storm. Hopefully what I learned and went through can give some of you a better idea for how to prepare for your own emergency situations. I hope you enjoy this week! πŸ˜€

Today I want to share a story from my personal blog (6 days into the aftermath of Ike) that demonstrates the importance of having a good relationship with your neighbors…

September 18, 2008 {“You Loot, We Shoot”}

Looting has got to be one of the saddest things in the aftermath of a natural disaster. As if people weren’t suffering enough, you have to go and kick ’em while they’re down. I know most people were just disgusted after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with the amount of looting, etc. That’s why when Jim and I were watching the news the first days after “Ike” and saw a sign as you entered a neighborhood that said “You Loot, We Shoot” written on a big piece of plywood, we thought, “Go Texas!” But your feelings tend to change a little when it’s your own husband going to the gun safe and pulling out his shotgun and shells to keep on the ready. And it’s even MORE scary when it’s for the following reason:
Last night, Jim went over to our neighbors house to just sit and chat with them for a bit (no power= everyone sits outside in the evening to enjoy the cooler weather) and while he was there, our neighbor, Mark, mentioned to him that a truck had pulled up into our driveway last night (which would have been Tuesday night). Jim didn’t think much of it because cars are always pulling up into our driveway and backing out to turn around on the street. So Jim wasn’t quite sure why Mark was bringing it up, so he asked if it had looked suspicious or something. Mark said “Oh yeah!” And the story goes as follows… It was right at midnight and the truck was driving down the street super slow, which is what caught Mark’s attention. The truck pulled up into our driveway and then someone got out and started walking toward our front door. Mark said at that point he came out of his house and just stared at the guy. (And I have since learned that Mark actually had his gun with him, resting on his arm where the guy could clearly see it.) When the guy saw Mark, he stopped, walked back to his truck, got in and drove away.
Um… did anyone else just get goosebumps?? Holy cow!
It’s additionally freaky that even though we had our doors locked, all the windows in our house were open to let the cool air in… so all someone would have to do is pull the screen off and come right on in our house. We’re not sure if they were wanting to steal our generator or were wanting to see if someone was home and break into the house, but apparently a lot of people that still don’t have power have gone somewhere else to check into a hotel or something, so looters are targeting areas without power. Well, needless to say we closed and double locked all our windows and doors last night and just kept the fans (which are running on the generator) on full blast to keep cool. We also parked the truck in a way that would make it hard to get the generator out, so once they turned it off (and we would definitely know because it would shut our fans off), Jim would have time to get out there with his gun. I hate to even think about him having to use that on a person. It makes me sick. But at the same time, I would be even MORE sick if anything were to happen to any of us… especially Dixie.
Anyway, the night has come and gone and we are still safe. I woke up half a dozen times and kept checking on Dixie and the street to make sure there was no one out there. I will forever be grateful that Heavenly Father kept our neighbor awake and alert that night to keep us safe and protected. What a testimony that prayers really are answered and we are being watched out for. Loves to all!
P.S. I’ll give more updates on everything when we get power restored. We’re now on Day #6 of no power and I’m using generator power to write this, so that’s all you get for now. πŸ™‚ I love you all!

Stories From Ike- Braving The Storm

In memory of Hurricane Ike, I’m going to take a trip down memory lane this week and share some personal stories and lessons learned of what it was like to be a part of that storm. Hopefully what I learned and went through can give some of you a better idea for how to prepare for your own emergency situations. I hope you enjoy this week! πŸ˜€

{Ike Background}
In September of 2008 (two years ago this month), Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast as a strong Category 2 hurricane with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge (Category 5 is the highest category there is). Hurricane Ike was the third costliest hurricane ever to hit the U.S. and caused the death of 112 people (in the U.S. alone),with others still missing. It was the strongest storm of that season, and I was here for it.
As I mentioned before, I live on the outskirts of Houston, TX (and actually in Galveston County… Galveston being the island where the center of the hurricane passed through), so we were preparing ourselves for a big hit. Fortunately, my home happened to be on the “clean” side of the hurricane (is there such a thing when you’re talking about a hurricane?!), which meant the winds weren’t as strong/damaging on our side of the storm. And seeing as our city was out of the storm surge area, we decided to shelter in place (as opposed to evacuating). This was my first experience with a hurricane, and it was definitely a memorable one (did I mention I was about 6 months pregnant at the time?!).
Many of the lessons I’ve learned, I’ve been trying to share with you throughout this site, and we’ll get to many more lessons as we continue on, but today I just want to Β share some personal memories of what it was like to know we had a monster knocking on our door. πŸ™‚ Here is an excerpt from my personal blog from the day before the storm…

September 11, 2008 {Braving The Storm}


I suppose that if you were to see a picture of a storm that equaled the size of your state (with your state being the largest in the continental U.S.) heading straight at you with the projected strength of over 120 mph winds and a storm surge coming that could end up giving you ocean front property, you would probably think to yourself, “Self, I should get out of here.” Well, I’ll tell ya what… We’re not like the usual selfs out there. That, plus we don’t talk to ourselves. (just kidding- we TOTALLY talk to ourselves.) πŸ™‚ Anyway, the point being… we’re sticking Hurricane Ike out. (And if you don’t know what Hurricane Ike is and the fact that it’s headed RIGHT at my house, just click over to someone else’s blog that you actually care about. jk- again.)
So anyway, I just thought I would update everyone so that you all know I am currently alive and well. We are taking a lot of precautions for this storm and feel pretty secure, so we’re not feeling the need to evacuate (despite our zip code being listed as a mandatory evacuation zone). πŸ™‚ We’re looking at it as a fun adventure (you can do that when you’re young and stupid… even though we’re old and …well, still stupid). But we’ve got our windows on our house boarded up (thanks to my hunk of a husband), our generator just got returned to us today so we’ll have power to run some essentials if there were a power outage, extra gas, extra water and food, the mini DVD player is fully charged so Dixie can still watch Barbie (hey… it’s all about priorities! …KEEP THE BABY HAPPY!!!) πŸ™‚ and we’re just ready to look this storm in the eye and say “bring it on”. Of course, with my luck, the storm is going to change course at the last minute and go somewhere completely different and ruin all my fun. But I guess as long as my house is still standing, I won’t complain. πŸ™‚
Well, I will be sure to give an update by the end of the week so everyone can breathe easy knowing I’m alive (this is where you pretend you care) πŸ™‚ and I’ll let you know how all the excitement went down. Loves to everyone!

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