I pit unprepared people--like my mother

My mother lives in Houston, along with the rest of my extended family. (I used to live there, but now live in Connecticut.)

While she did stock up on bottled water, etc., she only figured that the power would be out for a few hours, a day at the most. They are now going on four days, and restoring all of the power throughout the city is projected to take weeks.

She has no way to heat anything, as her stove is electric, She has one outside BBQ grill, but no charcoal. She and my sister just have a couple of flashlights in the house for the long, dark nights, and have found that it is difficult taking a shower with a flashlight. They were completely unprepared for the power being out for any length of time.

For comparison, I have:
[li]Gas grill with a side burner[/li][li]Extra 20-lb propane cylinder[/li][li]Gas stove in the house that runs off propane[/li][li]Hurricane lanterns and lamp fuel[/li][li]Battery-powered fluorescent lanterns[/li][li]Propane camp lanterns[/li][li]Propane bottles[/li][li]Portable Coleman camp stove[/li][li]Dehydrated food pouches (just add hot water)[/li][/ul]

Now granted, my son is in the Boy Scouts, (and I’m a leader), and we go camping every month, which is basically good practice for living without electrical power. But still, how can people possibly be this unprepared for an extended power outage?

What even more ironic is that my mother (and my wife, for that matter) are still making fun of me for stocking up for Y2K, but frankly, it was just an excuse to get some camping equipment, and to buy some emergency supplies that we should have had anyway. Heck, I still have a few dozen 1-lb propane cylinders left from back then that I keep out in the shed.

FWIW, I just shipped my mother a portable Coleman stove and a battery-powered fluorescent lantern. I apparently can’t ship her propane bottles, though, so I hope she can find some.

It is so easy to get complacent. We have always stocked up prior to a hurricane, but too many people got burned when Rita turned away from us.

We bought a generator that it turned out we didn’t need, but we loaned it to our neighbor across the street.

What side of town is she on? They are giving away MRE’s and ice and water at lots of PODs - Points of Distribution. Lines for gas are kinda long, but it is available. Grocery stores and Wal-Marts are opening up now. I can find out more info for her if you’d like.

Thanks. She is OK on food and water, but is sitting in the dark at home.

She has a brother in Missouri City who has power, and my sister’s fiance has power, so they’ve been hanging out there, but there’s not enough beds to go around after curfew.

I’ve been telling them that a portable generator is not really all that helpful. It’s difficult to keep them fueled up for any length of time, and they don’t produce all that much power, relatively speaking. Also, they won’t work with the stove, unless you get an electrician to wire it up properly, as well as prevent unsafe back-feeding of the lines in the street.

After Hurricane Alicia, it took weeks to restore power to the whole city.

My preparation level is somewhere between your mother’s & yours. But I do have a gas stove–so cooking & boiling water would have been easy. Beyond the storm surge area, the natural gas will keep flowing. As will the water–even though it might be suspect.

“Would have been”–because my power was restored at 6PM on Saturday. But I made a note to stock up on batteries for my booklight. As it is, I’m merely suffering from lack of cable TV & internet.

(A co-worker took YTK a bit too seriously. But I told him he’d just made a beginning on his Hurricane Kit.)

I don’t understand. Wouldn’t one still be able to use the supplies they stocked up in the coming months, even if there ended up not being an emergency.

I’m still living off my Y2K tuna.

Can you just ship her some MREs? She won’t need heat then.

I’ve spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast. (Not right on it–after Carla, I saw what storm surge can do.)

What you do is stock up. Then keep using & restocking perishables so there’s no rush to the store at the last minute. If you get prepared for a storm that swerves at the last minute, you should be happy. Not disappointed. The aftermath of a storm is not fun, even if you just have to deal with a long stretch without power.

I’d like to add a sub-pitting for the folks who have built big-ass houses in my neighborhood but neglected to add window screens. In nice weather–or hot weather when the power’s out–they are stuck. (Yes, mosquitos can be a problem.) One faux-Victorian a few blocks away has a few windows propped open with crummy little screens.

And a non-pitting for the intelligent minority who added functional shutters to their new houses. Not those idiotic “plantation shutters” inside the windows, either. Many folks boarded up their windows before the storm. In most cases, the boards are still there. Eventually, they will be removed–but the screw holes will remain.

Again, she is OK on food and water.

Besides, cold food sucks, especially MREs. You can heat the pouches in boiling water, if you have the means to boil water…

She’s also been complaining about having no way to make coffee or tea.

I live in Baton Rouge where Gustav just came through and knocked out our electricity for 4 1/2 days (we’re one of the lucky ones). We used our portable generator (bought at a pawn shop) to run the refrigerator, a small T.V. and a small window unit. We used on average 5 gallons of gas every 12 hours. We stocked up on gas and food prior to the storm. Using an extension cord every once in a while, I made coffee for us and our neighbors. We could have plugged the stove into it, also, if we really wanted to create more heat in the house.

Portable generators are by no means “not really all that helpful.” Ours kept us sane.

Just FYI, I have no idea how tasty they are, but I’ve seen cans of coffee in WalMart that are self-heating.


There are all sorts of portable generators. They don’t have to be back-fed into the house line.

We didn’t get ours until we got the estimate that it would be Sept. 24th before we’d get power restored after Gustav. Thankfully we got power back this weekend, but that was still 13 straight days for us in Baton Rouge. That generator, as noted by a poster above, kept me sane.

A portable generator is great to run a small window A/C if you want one room in which to sleep comfortably, and a few electric lights, maybe a television and a gaming console. You can run basic refrigerator/freezer off it if you have someone home all day to keep the generator fueled.

We had a 5500 watt “storm responder”, but both my husband and I were back at work one week after Gustav. We couldn’t keep the generator going all day, and we wanted to be able to lock it up when we were gone.

Seven gallons of fuel ran it for about 14 hours at the load we were placing upon it.

On the other hand, we were “stocked up” as the OP noted. We had plenty of non-perishable food. We could have done with more ice, but it would have melted eventually anyway. I spent a good two hours in one FEMA handout line to get 40 pounds of ice in that first week after Gustav, and my husband loved the MREs I picked up there. As long as we had some ice, I was surviving.

I’ve had the hot chocolate version. Pretty good. It was like $2 though. Which I suppose is cheaper than Starbucks but more expensive than QuikTrip or making it yourself. And there is less liquid than it looks like because the heating element takes up space of course.

Those things are neat though. Isn’t there soup like this too?

Hmmm. I know people who live in areas without electricity ever who don’t have that kind of gear.

Really, most people ought to be able handle up to a week in warm weather without much more than a few candles. Yeah, eating canned tuna, cold-soaked oatmeal, potato flakes and drinking sun tea isn’t that much fun, but it’s a freaking hurricane you don’t expect to have fun. Tell mom to suck it up!

Have you ever had an MRE? The ones I have seen (which is about a billion, since my family is military and my husband loves the damnable things!) all come with little heaters that only require water to activate.

As for coffee/tea – again, most MREs come with a drink packet – many with coffee or tea. One uses the heater to heat his/her water and then voila! hot beverage.

Preparedness is a state of mind. Some people have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality, others just make it a low priority. While I think our family would probably be ok in the event of a catastrophic issue (we have well water, and it would suck hand pumping, but that can be done in the event of no electricity), a propane grill with a side burner, several kerosene heaters and plenty of non-perishables – we are not as prepared as I would like to be. Why aren’t we? Because day-to-day bills and groceries come first and sometimes, there’s just not enough left after that for other things. We’re the working poor.

Having lived my entire life in places where going outside in winter could kill you in a couple of hours, I truly don’t understand the mentality of people who don’t prepare for the realities of where they live. You live someplace that gets hurricanes - being prepared for them isn’t optional, to my way of thinking. That’s like being western Canadian and not owning a proper parka and snow boots - unthinkable. Maybe it’s the difference between “you’ll probably get a hurricane” and “you’ll definitely get a cold winter.” :confused:

Why doesn’t she just make one of these? It’s a simple stove made out of a soda can, and uses plain old rubbing alcohol for fuel. It can be used indoors, right on her stovetop too.


So, if you used 5 gallons of gas every 12 hours, in 4-1/2 days you used 45 gallons of gas?! Where can anyone safely keep that much fuel on hand? Also, I don’t think you realize how much power heating elements use, if you think you could have also powered up an electric stove.

True, but if you’re going to try to power a hard-wired stove, or a well pump, it needs to be wired into the house.

And 13 days at 7 gallons per 14 hours comes out to about 156 gallons of gasoline! How do you even get that much gas home, much less safely stored?

Personally, I can live without a TV, A/C, or house lights. If you choose your food carefully, you can go without refrigeration, too. I still don’t generally see a generator being all that helpful.

That is, with one exception–water. My house has a well, so when I lose power, we lose our water, too. That’s why we fill our tubs when a storm is predicted, so we can flush the toilets. However, if we lost power for an extended period of time, we would be unable to shower in our house. That would suck.

In my mother’s case, though, a generator seems like more trouble than it’s worth for her.

I haven’t had an MRE since I was playing with the Marines back in 1989. (We got real food in the Navy.) Anyway, I don’t think they had heaters then, because we had to put them in boiling water or eat them cold.

On checking wikipedia, they apparently added the heaters in 1992.

robby, you’ve lived in Houston and can say with a straight face you can live without A/C in 95 degree weather? More power to you (no pun intended).

Yes, we did use around 45 gallons of gas. We stored the gas in approved gas cans on our property. Is that so odd?

As to the stove, I didn’t make it clear that we could have unplugged the A/C for that small amount of time. We didn’t use the stove, though. We cooked on our grill.

We didn’t use any lights. The T.V was for info only and for short amounts of time. We have pretty poor radio reception in our area with the hand-crank radio.