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.